Medication doesn't always have to be the answer

By Melody King, L.C.S.W.
A New Start Counseling Center, Inc.

Many people are suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Often people go to their doctor and get medication. Sometimes medication is the best choice. There are people who do not want to take medication or can’t take it because of side effects. The good news is there are other ways to get better. Scientists have learned a great deal about the brain and body. This has led to new ways of helping with these symptoms.

More and more people are using electrical therapy to improve symptoms. Small electrodes are worn on each ear. A very tiny electrical current passes through the electrodes. This can be worn daily for 20-60 minutes. It is very easy to use while going about your daily routine. This device has also helped people with chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, head trauma, and strokes. Side effects, such as feeling woozy or sleepy, are mild and don’t last long.

Winners of the World Cup in soccer and recent Olympic medalists have used something called Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback). Research has been mostly with ADD/ADHD. It has helped many people with PTSD, Anxiety (Includes OCD, Panic Attacks), Depression, Insomnia, Traumatic Brain Injury (including Strokes), Substance Abuse, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Learning Disabilities, Seizures, Fibromyalgia, Tinnitus, and many other issues. Athletes use it for peak performance training.

Electrodes are placed on the head and one or two are placed on the earlobes or behind the ears. These electrodes are connected to an EEG device. This gives the person feedback they can hear and see about their brainwave activity.

The electrodes measure the electrical patterns coming from the brain. No electrical current is put in to the brain. It’s like a physician listening to your heart from the surface of your skin. The brain’s electrical activity is sent to the computer and recorded.

Normally a person cannot influence their brainwave patterns because they lack awareness of them. This process enables you to see your brainwaves on a computer screen a few thousandths of a second after they occur and gives you the ability to influence and change them. This is called operant conditioning. The more training sessions you do the longer the effect lasts. The goal is for the brain to continue with these changes after sessions have stopped.

Neurofeedback is similar to exercising or doing physical therapy. The client attends 2-3 sessions per week for several weeks until goals are reached. Sessions can be 30 minutes to 1 ? hours each. Many practitioners will do a Brain Map on the person before beginning. This gives them a clear picture of the electrical activity in the brain. It helps the practitioner focus on the area most out of balance.

There are other devices that retrain brain activity but are not focused on a special part of the brain. These use Audio Visual Stimulation (or Audio Visual Entrainment) to help the brain get to a more healthy and balanced state. People can use these at home. They are typically used daily for 10-60 minutes.

Biofeedback also helps with anxiety, stress, insomnia, high blood pressure, focus, and many other problems. There are also herbal interventions that help with mild symptoms or as support with other therapies.

I have very exciting results using these various interventions with my own clients here at A New Start Counseling Center. Many have been able to take less medication or even stop it completely. It is rewarding to see clients regain their smile and enjoying life.

I can be reached at A New Start Counseling Center for any questions regarding the information in this article. Call 770-461-9944 and ask for Melody King. We are located at 115 Habersham Drive, Fayetteville, GA 30214.

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