Anxiety and Phobias
As a part of growing up, “children naturally have fears”, however when it stops being developmentally appropriate, then it’s a problem. For example if fear is keeping a child from doing things that he should be doing, participating in school, playing, having friends, sleeping away from parents, then it’s time to get help.
Anxiety disorders are often debilitating chronic conditions, which can be present from an early age or begin suddenly after a triggering event.
Anxiety is prone to flare up at times of high stress and is frequently accompanied by physiological symptoms such as: headaches, sweating, muscle spasms, palpitations and hypertension which in some cases lead to fatigue or even exhaustion.
The words anxiety and fear are often used interchangeably, but they have the following distinct meanings:
- Anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional state for which the cause is either not readily identified
or perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.
- Fear is an emotional and physiological response to a recognised external threat which has been crucial
for survival both as an individual and as a species.
- The term Anxiety Disorder, includes fears, phobias as well as anxieties. Anxiety disorders are often
comorbid with other mental disorders, particularly clinical depression, which is why there is considerable overlap between the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Worries, doubts, and superstitious beliefs are all common in everyday life and it is only when they become excessive i.e. driving around and around the block to check that an accident didn’t occur, then a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is probably in order.
In OCD, it is as though the brain gets stuck on a particular track, thought or urge and it just can’t let go…
A person is considered as having OCD when obsessive and compulsive behaviours are extreme enough to interfere with the quality of everyday life.
Obsessions are unwanted, persistent thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and the person will feel that they are out of their control. People with OCD typically try to make their obsessions go away by performing irresistible compulsions. An OCD person does not want to have these ideas, and finds them disturbing, and intrusive, and usually recognises that they don’t really make sense or have any relevance to the reality of the situation.
Compulsions on the other hand are acts that the person performs over and over again, often according to certain “rules”. For example a person may repeatedly check that she has turned off the stove or iron because of an obsessive fear of burning the house down. Similarly, people with an obsession about contamination may wash constantly to the point that their hands become raw and inflamed.
Unlike compulsive drinking or gambling, OCD compulsions do not give the person pleasure. Rather, the rituals are performed to obtain relief from the discomfort caused by the obsessions.
Conventional approaches to OCD include educating the person and their family about OCD and its management. The most common interventions for OCD are medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). At LDPS we also offer Neurofeedback to compliment the above.
Our approach to assisting those with Anxiety Disorders is to undertake a thorough history and psychometric assessment including a QEEG (quantitative electroencephalograph). Conventional approaches are then combined with Neurofeedback training (the sister technology to QEEG) which is proving to be a powerful intervention strategy in alleviating anxiety.
Neurofeedback training is a drug-free, non-invasive and a safe method of reducing fear, worry and mind chatter in those who exhibit symptoms of anxiety. The “Relaxation Training for the Brain” allows the individual to learn ways to increase their state of calm and quiet alertness. It also helps the central nervous system to become more adaptive and responsive instead of remaining inflexible and reactive.
At Learning Discoveries we devise an individualised programme that is aimed at restoring balance in the autonomic nervous system as well as improving a person’s outlook on life. A core component of the programme is our state of the art Neurofeedback training techniques as well as a combination of the following: education and counselling, breath work, heart rate variability training, inhibition of the Moro reflex, hyposis and meditation.