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How To Support Your Child’s Mental Health Amidst School Returns

Over a month into the 2020-21 school year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, Canada has since returned to in-person schooling whilst ensuring that precautions and guidelines are in place for the safety of students, faculty, and staff. Imagine being six years old, starting in-person schooling for the first time in months. You’re starting Grade 1. You’re excited for your first day of school in the new year. You’ll get to see all your friends and make new ones.You wake up in the morning, get ready for school and put on your mask as you leave the house. You get to school with your mask still fastened over your face, remembering to clean your hands with hand sanitizer before you enter the classroom. Only when you enter the classroom can you finally remove your mask. As the bell rings for recess, you must again put on your mask as you play outside with your friends. After school, you put on your mask and return home. There likely won’t be any after-school activities, and no playdates.That is the reality of what a regular school day will look like for your child in these COVID-19 times. As children adjust and become acclimated to this new educational environment, there are uncertainties regarding how this unique environment will affect the long-term mental health of children.So how can parents ensure the health and success of their children? How can parents ensure that their children are able to manage their mental and physical well-being? What kinds of behaviours or signs can parents look for regarding their child’s mental health?

 

How the Changes in School May Affect Students’ Social Development

School is a crucial environment for children to learn, engage, collaborate, and become educated on a variety of crucial topics that they will take with them beyond their education lives. What children learn in school, they carry with them, in most cases into adulthood when they begin to discover what they want to do with their lives.Of course, for many of you parents out there, it will be some time before they will be at that point where they must decide on their career paths so don’t reminisce about their childhoods just yet.Nonetheless, as children begin to form education and develop as humans, there is another equally important aspect of schooling that often gets overlooked. That is Social Development.

School is not only a place to receive a formal education; it is also a place where children learn necessary social clues, where they learn how to interact and engage with one another, how to play and share, how to learn accepted and undesirable behaviours, how to understand and regulate their emotions, and so on. Social development is critical to a child’s mental health as well. It enhances their lives and will be crucial come their teenage years and beyond.For these reasons, as students continue with their schooling amidst the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that children continue to be able to receive the necessities when it comes to their social development. It is easier than ever before for children to become isolated from one another and to end up being more solitary as a result of the health regulations and precautions put in place at their schools. Ensuring that your child is receiving the proper social development will also go a long way in their long-term mental health and will decrease the likelihood of future social or mental difficulties.

 

How can you help your child with their Social Development?

One way to take a proactive approach is to engage with your child more than ever. Ask them about their day at school, if they met anyone interesting, what they did at recess. At the same time, try and spend more time with your child, interact with them whenever you can in a social (but distanced) setting, or engage with them in a variety of activities and games. As your child develops social skills at school, they can also continue to learn these skills at home. And as a parent, you can help them with that.Not only will this help your child, but it may help you as well. Playing charades or Apples to Apples with your child will likely help their mood and their understanding of the world, but it may also give you an opportunity to connect with your child more than you have.Another way is to try and maintain a lifestyle for both you and your child that resembles normal pre-pandemic life as much as possible. While this may be difficult during a pandemic, there are still things you can do to make life seem as normal as possible to your child. What you can do will depend on your province’s regulations for pandemic regulations and social distancing guidelines.Have your child join after-school programs, classes or sports, if they aren’t doing so already, and if it is safe to do so. I’m sure many of you have experienced those Saturday mornings standing in the torrential rain watching your child play soccer while you and the other parents shout and encourage them along the field. Such an experience, while it may be slightly uncomfortable for you as a parent, is invaluable for your child’s development as they learn the rules of the game and communicate with their teammates.Additionally, allow for play dates with their friends (ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing when necessary). And allow safe and monitored access to online discussion and/or online video games with their friends. Taking the initiative in making these changes and additions will likely ensure that your child is receiving the necessary social development that they may not be fully experienced at school, whilst also helping your child’s mental health, both in the short and long-term.

 

How to Know if Your Child Has Heightened Levels of Stress and Anxiety

With schools back in session, it can be a stressful time for students returning to school. In some cases, children may have been directly affected by the COVID-19 virus, and even if they haven’t, it’s quite possible that they’ve heard about it on the news, or from others around them.Children have everyday Stress and Anxiety, just as adults do. It is normal for your child to have worries or thoughts that are bothering them. That being said, the pandemic has added an additional layer of worry that is unprecedented. This added layer of anxiety is something that neither children nor parents could have prepared for.Being a child can be scary and intimidating. Think back to the scenario of imagining yourself as a six-year-old entering your first day of the school year. You feel nervous as you get on the school bus, you worry as you sit down that your mask will fall off and the police will arrest you. You may worry that your mask is ugly and that no one will want to play with you. These are potential scenarios of concerns that your child may experience under COVID-19, and such concerns could lead to heightened anxiety and stress. As mentioned by Kids Help Phone, 8 out of every 10 students were facing back-to-school anxiety in regards to returning to school. Additionally, many children were also worried about being isolated and alone while dealing with their mental health. While this may sound quite concerning, there are ways to address the fears and anxieties that your child may be facing.

 

So, what can you do?

The best way of reducing the amount of stress and exertion on your child is to talk to them. Discuss the virus with your child if you haven’t done so already. Inform and educate them. For example, if your child is worried about going to school every day, talk to them. Let them know that their school has put in several safety measures to ensure the safety of all students, staff, and faculty. Remind them of the importance of washing their hands as regularly as they can to prevent the spread of the virus. Wearing masks can be an added frustration for children, as they struggle to ensure that their mask is securely fastened while in the hallways, or as they play outside at recess or lunch. Empathize with them. Let them know that you understand that it’s not easy, but that continuing to wear masks and other safety equipment when necessary is important in combatting and maintaining the virus. A lot of what you tell your child will be about transparency. Tell them the facts and educate them. But don’t stop there. Be active and watchful with your child. Look for the signs. Is your child exhibiting changes in behaviour? Are they keeping to themselves more? Are they exhibiting a decrease in appetite? Are they portraying sudden, unexpected bursts of anger?

If so, address these behaviours. Lightly talk to them and see if you can understand what is going on. If you do this, ensure that you are not probing too deeply. If your child is struggling internally, this could cause them to withdraw more. Be patient and go at their pace. All children handle stress and anxiety in different ways, and it is important to watch out for any abnormal mood changes or emotional swings. At the same time, not all students will overtly show signs that they are struggling. Talk to your child regularly, ask them about their day, who they met today, what they learned today. Simply talking to them may lead to them opening up about any problems or issues that they may be experiencing.

 

What Else Can You Do?

Much of these strategies, while they may help your child, may only scratch the surface in dealing with your child’s anxiety. In many cases, deeper analysis and support may be necessary to combat their heightened emotions and changes in their behaviour. So, what other solutions are there? In addition to talking to your child and looking for the signs of heightened stress and anxiety, there are a variety of proven, clinical methods in treating your child’s heightened pandemic Anxiety.

Neurofeedback is a specialized form of brain therapy that trains your brain to become more flexible, calm and therefore resilient against anxiety. Neurofeedback allows your child to activate self-regulation so that they can manage their emotions more effectively. Biofeedback is a form of therapy that calms your nervous system by reducing its overactivity.Additionally, other treatments that we recommend in dealing with anxiety and stress for your child are different forms of counselling that can bring up the child’s anxiety and give the child the tools to deal with the effects of this anxiety. Furthermore, a resilient nervous system is one that is well-nourished and nutrition counselling can help you understand your child’s nutrition profile and how it can be managed.If you need support in helping your child with their mental health as they make their way through the school year, we at Elumind are here to help. If you would like to schedule an appointment with our client care coordinator, she would be more than happy to talk with you.

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How Your Concussed Brain Wants to Get Better and Here’s How; Less Big Macs More Walnuts

“Tell the truth! Tell the truth!” says Dr. Bennet Omalu in the film Concussion. Dr. Omalu, portrayed by Will Smith is a pathologist who, during his research, discovers the hidden truth about brain damage in relation to contact football. While it may just be a movie, Concussion is based on a true story, and Concussions are real injuries that need to be taken seriously.

 

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that results in a temporary loss of normal brain function that can include: memory loss, confusion, headaches, nausea, and other cognitive difficulties. Often a concussion is a result of a collision with the head whether that be contact with someone else or with the ground.When such trauma occurs to your skull, the brain inside your skull may become jarred or may have moved around inside your skull. This can lead to tearing of the nerves connected with the brain which can lead to a variety of cognitive and emotional difficulties, depending on the region of the brain connected with the trauma and with the severity of the injury. Depending on the severity of the trauma, the concussion can be mild, with the symptoms resolving after mere minutes, or the concussion can be severe with symptoms (including loss of consciousness) lasting months and even years after the injury. For those that continue to struggle with concussion-like symptoms for extended periods of time, a healthy diet and focused nutrition can play dividends in drastically improving your life and putting you back on track. Don’t worry! It can get better!

 

Your Brain

Your brain is the control centre of your body. Everything goes through your brain, and you would be unable to function without it. Think back to all your innermost feelings. Don’t worry, you don’t need to share them. Everything you’ve ever thought of, and everything you hadn’t thought of involves your brain processes. Even simply being able to read this blog right now is in thanks to your brain. Your brain is your friend, the one you never knew you had. Your brain does so much for and checks up on you regularly. You just can’t see it or talk to it or text it or hang out with it at the mall. Think of a city. A city is complex. In a single city, there will be thousands of roads that can take you anywhere, highways that will lead to different cities, bridges that cross between different sections of the city. Within the city itself, there will be apartments, homes, vehicles, businesses, restaurants, police stations, people, and much more. The city is held together by those who live and use it and it functions properly according to the rules of the city. Day after day goes by with the city functioning as it is supposed to, and no problems arise because of it. Now imagine what would happen if a large earthquake occurred in the city. Roads would be shattered, bridges collapsed. Chaos would fill the streets, and people would begin to panic as they attempt to find a way to restore harmony.

Such a scenario is not much different from when you get a concussion. Your brain’s balance becomes disrupted; nerves and certain areas of the brain may or may not function as they’re supposed to. When such trauma occurs, it can cause chaos within the brain. When the symptoms of a concussion do not get better or you continue to feel the symptoms weeks, months, or years after the injury, then it may be necessary to receive additional support and treatment.

 

How Can Nutrition Help With a Concussion?

We’ve all been there. You woke up in the morning. You had to wake up the kids, get them ready for school, and then hurry on your way to work. You were so busy that you didn’t have time to pack a lunch for yourself. Now it’s noon, you’re on your lunch break and you have nothing to eat. Fortunately for you, there’s a Mcdonald’s across the street. While it’s ok to have a guilty pleasure (we all have one), a healthy, nutritional diet can be critical if you’re dealing with the symptoms of a concussion. Maintaining and focusing on nutrition can significantly help your brain, and ultimately the quality of your life. Let me explain. If you’ve ever seen what a brain looks like, then you’ll know that it essentially looks like a large glob of fat with many ridges. Of course, your brain is much more complex than just some fat, and it has so many components and processes that are significant in maintaining the functionality of your body.

As mentioned by Nutritional Weight & Wellness, your brain is made up of about 70-80% fat. Your brain, while it is small in comparison to the rest of your body, actually uses up 20% of your body’s energy. That’s a huge number when considering the brain only takes up 2% of your body’s weight. So, what does this mean? Essentially, in simple terms, this means that the brain needs a lot of nutrients and protein for it to thrive and function at its best. When a brain injury such as a concussion has occurred, it is even more necessary to avoid those Big Macs and turn to a healthier diet. This means nutrition becomes critical in healing your brain and maintaining it so that it is working at full capacity.

 

What foods should you eat and which to avoid?

Since a traumatic brain injury (TBI) such as a concussion causes inflammation to the brain, it is important to reduce that inflammation. This means, of course, eating foods that will help with the inflammation. Eating foods that are rich in natural fats such as flaxseed, krill oil, avocado, walnuts, grass-fed butter, fish, and coconut oil will all help in healing brain trauma. Simultaneously, digesting foods heavy in natural fats also boost brain functioning so it’s an added bonus! Additionally, having a large diet of lots of vegetables will also help. By eating lots of vegetables, you are increasing your intake of antioxidants which has been shown to decrease cell death. Conversely, the foods that are unhealthy for a damaged brain may be more challenging to avoid. In our world today, it is much easier to find and eat foods that are heavy in carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sugar. While these types of foods may be okay to consume occasionally, such as with your infrequent Big Mac run, if you are suffering from the effects of a concussion, it can be much more important to avoid such foods. Avoid sugary snacks, simple carbs, or anything high in saturated fats. By doing so, and by moving to a healthier diet, the inflammation in your brain will surely go down, and you will find yourself with a better mindset and a healthier brain.

 

What Else Can You Do?

Besides improving your nutrition and focusing on healing the trauma to your brain, there are a few other ways of healing. One of these is with nutritional supplements or what are known as Nutraceuticals. There are a variety of nutraceuticals that can support and aid your brain and to ensure that you are receiving the necessary vitamins you need. Taking vitamins such as omega-3 fish oil pills or B vitamins can pay dividends in reducing brain inflammation. Additionally, if you want to know more about how to improve your nutrition, or to improve your lifestyle choices, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that need not be taken lightly. It’s critical that you treat your brain, as you would treat any other injury so that it can heal and so that the symptoms can be lessened or relieved. If you have any questions or want to know more about how to treat your brain, we encourage you to get in touch with our Elumind client care coordinator. She would be more than happy to chat with you and get you on the right track with receiving the proper care you need.

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All You Need to Know about Sports Associated Concussions: The Story of Billy

Billy watches the sun setting in the distance, shadows beginning to appear along the sideline of the football field. He stands in the backfield at the 24-yard line as the quarterback calls the alignment at the line, getting all the players set. Billy knows the play; it’s a run to the left. He licks his chops and gets ready. Finally, the quarterback huts the ball, and Billy runs up to receive the handoff. He gets the ball and quickly cuts it outside to the left. There is space in front of him with only one player to beat. He gains five yards with lots of space ahead. The linebacker is closing in on him fast. He knows he will have to try and break the tackle if he wants to get more yards. Billy cuts upfield lower his helmet and falls through the linebacker, his helmet contacting the linebacker’s chest pads. Billy breaks the tackle, managing to stay on his feet for a second or two longer, but then tumbles to the ground himself.

After that, Billy didn’t remember anything. He didn’t remember being on the ground for 10 minutes whilst being attended to by trainers. He didn’t remember ending up in the hospital and having a CT scan. That day became a haze in Billy’s mind, and he would never play organized football again. While such a scenario is tragic, it is a possibility for any athlete who plays contact sports. They are putting their bodies and their futures on the line for the sport they love. Athletes, whether they are playing football, hockey, soccer, etc, know that concussions are a risk, as are a wide variety of other injuries. And even if you as an athlete had a concussion at one point, or currently have a concussion, it does not mean you need to struggle with the symptoms. There are solutions in relieving and/or reducing the symptoms associated with a concussion.

 

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that results in a temporary loss of normal brain function. Symptoms include amnesia, confusion, nausea, headaches and other cognitive difficulties. Normally a concussion is caused by a head injury when your head slams into an object or the ground. When a collision with your skull occurs, your brain becomes jostled and can slam around inside your skull. This can result in damage (sometimes permanent) to the brain itself. Such damage leads to lessened functionality of the brain which can mean cognitive, emotional, and physical difficulties. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, symptoms can be mild, with symptoms going away after minutes, or symptoms can be severe and last months or even years after the injury. For athletes who have a history of past concussions or for those athletes who are still experiencing symptoms of a concussion, there is hope.

 

Concussions in Contact Sports

The National Football League, or NFL, is a contact football league and a multi-million-dollar industry. Every year from September to February, fans grab their beers and their hotdogs and watch the game from the stands, taking in every aspect of the game. The big game, the Superbowl, is one of the most anticipated sporting events each year, with millions of people tuning in from all over the world. They watch the football game, the halftime show, or both. While fans are watching the game, the players down below play the game. Quarterbacks throw footballs for receivers to catch downfield, running backs run with the ball and avoid tacklers, linebackers tackle and make stops, and kickers kick footballs through the uprights. Of course, all this isn’t without its risks. Every snap has a chance to lead to an injury, and as a football player, you are putting your body at risk. One potential injury is a concussion. Of course, players aren’t going in unprotected. They wear pads from head to toe and wear sturdy helmets that are enclosed over their skulls. Nonetheless, that does not mean that concussions don’t occur. They do. While helmets do protect the skull from damage, they don’t necessarily protect the brain from getting jolted inside the skull. In the past, players, whether they knew they had a concussion or not, would get right back into the play and play football, even if they were feeling dazed or confused. It was a tough-guy mentality that was part of the game. Players wanted to get right back up and show that they could play and that they were okay. They didn’t want to miss a snap. They didn’t want to portray any weakness. Getting hit was just part of the game.

Nowadays there is more awareness about concussions, and NFL players must now go through a concussion protocol to ensure that they don’t have a concussion and are okay to resume playing. Of course, sometimes it can take hours or even days for signs of a concussion to materialize so any examination could be moot. If the players are examined, and it is determined that they do have a concussion, they must sit the remainder of the game. Often, they are right back out there the next week if they are symptom-free. Of course, football isn’t the only sport that has concussion risks. The same can be said about ice hockey, or soccer, or basketball. Risks of concussions are there in organized sports and are more likely in contact sports. If you have had, or have a concussion, there are ways in which you can reduce the symptoms of a concussion and improve your brain health.

 

What Can You Do?

Billy, in the scenario above, experienced a concussion, one that would leave him unable to play contact football ever again. If you’ve ever played contact sports, you’ll know that injuries are a part of the game. You could sprain your foot, or break your hand, or end up with any number of other potential injuries. The risks are there when you play the game you love. But don’t worry! Dealing with a concussion doesn’t need to be stressful or frustrating. It can get better! There are solutions to healing your brain. If you’ve recently experienced a concussion, the best thing to do is rest. Avoid doing anything that uses your brain. This means avoid reading, working on the computer, playing video games, or even watching tv. Just rest, sleep and take it easy. Doing so will allow your brain to heal without exerting it to be used too much. Besides resting, another way to promote the healing of your brain is by focusing on having a healthy nutritional diet. Focus on drinking lots of water, eat foods that are high in natural fat such as avocado, walnuts, and grass-fed butter, and eat lots of vegetables. Simultaneously, avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. Also, avoid any foods that are high in sugar or any that contain saturated fats. For more information on specifics about what to eat as part of your diet, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Nutritional counsellors.

Besides nutrition, Neurofeedback therapy is an effective and completely harmless form of brain therapy that can help get you on track. First, QEEG brain mapping technology is used to get an understanding of which areas of the brain have been affected and need support. After that has been determined, Neurofeedback can then be used to target those specific areas through a reward-based system to re-train your brain so that it can heal. Don’t worry! Help is there for you. With the right tools and the right forms of help, you can feel better in no time. If you have any questions or want to know more about how to treat your brain, we encourage you to get in touch with our Elumind client care coordinator. She would be more than happy to chat with you and get you on the right track with receiving the proper care you need.

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Generalized Anxiety and the Pandemic

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy… he’s nervous, but on the surface, he looks calm and ready.” We do not need to go further into the lyrics, but can you relate? Anxiety arises in our lives in several ways, but what do you do if it persists and manifests itself into the many domains in your life?

With our current global conditions, as COVID-19 is still prevailing and numbers are beginning to rise, stress and anxiety amongst the population will too. 

So, what do you do? 

We all experience the common daily stressors in our life – worrying about upcoming presentations, meeting deadlines for work or school, or even managing a kid’s busy schedule. 

With what seems like a never-ending global pandemic, how do we cope?

 

How Common Are Stress And Anxiety?

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety daily to some extent. A study conducted in 2013 found that roughly 3 million Canadians aged 18 and up claimed that their anxiety affected them in their everyday life. 

The typical question moving forward would be, what are the stressors in our lives that are activating our anxiety AND… how can we take control over them to promote a steady, mindful state?

But now we also have to take into account those added by the invisible threat, the novel coronavirus.

 

Let’s Start With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a global mental health issue that affects over 110 million people of all ages. It’s a chronic disorder that arises in people who experience excessive and ongoing anxiety and worry. 

According to the DSM-5, lifetime prevalence rests at an average of 5%, and rates rising to almost 10% for women aged 40 and higher. 

So if you find yourself constantly worrying over several things in your life such as money, your job, meeting deadlines, your relationships, household responsibilities, have difficulty controlling this constant state of worry — and this has all lasted over six months, you may have undiagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

Recognize it, but don’t make it a part of your life. It’s time to take care of your emotions!

But, did you know our children are also at risk of developing Generalized Anxiety Disorder too? 

 

How To Tell If Your Child Has GAD

If you have a young child or have a young child in your family – it’s important to note that a certain amount of anxiety is normal as a part of their healthy development. Loud noises, separation anxiety, fears of the dark, even strangers are all common, so there you have nothing to worry about! It’s all about them growing up.

However, if you start to notice that they begin to experience more frequented anxiety as they age – around multiple faucets in their life such as school, friends, family, sports teams – then we do recommend seeking a therapy plan for them; They shouldn’t be experiencing such stress at a young age!

Especially with the pandemic regulations and social distancing guidelines as outlined by our Provincial Health Officers, play dates with friends were prohibited to decrease the spread. Without regular interaction and play – anxiety and anger form. 

Children accumulate stress and aggression – it’s a normal phenomenon – and the way that it’s released is through playtime. It’s brought out from the inside out and helps them to rationalize their feelings. 

With today’s society, even without the pandemic, they are often over-stimulated which leads us to see an increase in stress, anxiety, and aggression in them. And now, due to a decrease in play with their peers, there is a decline in the way that all their emotions are managed. 

 

Pandemic Anxiety

Kids Help Phone stated that 8 in 10 children were nervous and anxious about returning to school back in September. They also stated that roughly one in three children who contacted them were nervous about contracting and spreading the disease. Others were concerned about their mental health in regards to being alone in isolation and living in fear of the invisible threat.  

In adults, we have seen their stress and anxiety portrayed in a variety of means. 

Drinking, smoking, and substance abuse increased in North America once the pandemic came and took a hit. 

Adults needed to find new ways to cope; From losing their jobs, reduced outside errand time, not being able to see loved ones, as well as all the coupled up stress and anxiety from their drastically changed daily routine, we all needed to find ways to utilize our time.

While some gravitated towards board games and puzzles, which consistently sold out online, others gravitated towards other means, which contributed to the delay of dealing and managing their emotions.

For example, in comparison to 2018, liquor sales in British Columbia increased 21.5% from $498-million to $605-million in a span of months. 

Others took to creating a calm, safe environment in their homes where they, for example, began a new fitness routine and leveled up some skills. 

 

Understand Your Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder is common. It’s normal for people to experience typical daily life stressors, but if not treated, it can have long-lasting harmful effects, such as:

  • Sleep issues
  • Autoimmune problems 
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • IBS

along with many more. Coupled with pandemic stress, it’s important to develop a plan to reduce your stress, anxiety, and seek treatment so you can be the best you can be.

 

Ways to Reduce Pandemic Induced Anxiety

There are many techniques and therapies that you can have easy access to that are proven to be effective treatments for Anxiety. 

Neurofeedback treats your cognitive worrying and emotional irritability. Biofeedback reduces the physiological hyperarousal symptoms associated with generalized anxiety. 

In addition to that, there are some easy tasks you can do regularly such as monitoring your news update schedule, limit your time on social media if you recognize that to be a trigger for stress, and perhaps try to limit your alcohol consumption – they had plenty of sales back in April!

Also, something we highly recommend is shifting your focus and attention. Practice your awareness of self and surroundings through meditation. Implement a new workout routine and focus on that. Where your focus goes, energy flows. And with what comes with exercise are all those happy neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine. 

Through workout and meditation, you can calm down your hyper-aroused state and begin your decompression. 

Other treatments we recommend if you or someone you know is dealing with increased anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Clinical Hypnosis, Functional Medicine, as well as Nutrition Counselling. 

If you need support, we at Elumind are here to help. Living in an anxious state is not a comfortable one for either you or someone you love. If you would like to schedule an appointment with our client care coordinator, she would be more than happy to talk with you. 

 

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Adult ADHD: The Life-Long Journey of Undiagnosed ADHD

Is this you?

You are sitting at your desk at work, but you just can’t focus. You’re trying to start a project but… you don’t know where to begin. You’re juggling emails, meetings, phone calls, along with all your everyday duties – but you find you can’t keep up. As a result, you feel continuously stressed and stuck.

In addition to work stress, you find you have issues with your relationships. You find there are a lot of misunderstandings, frustrations, and resentment coming from both sides. You feel as if you’re constantly being criticized, nagged, and told what to do – you try your best, but that isn’t enough.

So, what’s going on?

Meet Adult ADHD, a mental disorder that affects around 4.4% of adults averaging to a total of 1,500,000 adults in Canada.

 

Undiagnosed ADHD

There has been a great debate over whether adult-onset ADHD is real. Len Adler, M.D., professor of psychiatry at New York University and one of the leading researchers in adult ADHD, believes that around 75% of adults who have ADHD aren’t aware of it. This lack of knowledge leads to an impact on several areas in one’s life… as we mentioned earlier!

So let’s start at the beginning…

 

Undiagnosed ADHD in Children

Children with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD will most likely experience many issues both at home and at school. They may have bad grades due to their struggles with attention and have difficulties controlling their emotions that affect their social relationships with their peers. Combined, these will increase their risk of developing low self-esteem or even depression.

As they grow into their teenage years and their ADHD still runs undiagnosed, if the children who didn’t perform well in school – it’s likely they aren’t about to catch up. They will continue to struggle with relationships, may not do so well in the dating world, and they may have issues getting along with their parents.

Especially for girls with ADHD, they pose a higher risk of developing an eating disorder that would be linked to depression or low self-esteem.

Having undiagnosed ADHD can harm an individual’s way of life to great lengths. As some symptoms may start to fade with age, it’s a lifelong problem if it goes untreated.

As they grow into their teenage years and their ADHD still runs undiagnosed, if the once-then children who did not perform well in school – it is likely they are not about to catch up. They also will struggle with relationships – meaning they may not have many friends, may not do well in the dating world, and may have issues getting along with their parents.

For young girls especially, they pose a higher risk of developing an eating disorder that would be linked to depression or low self-esteem.

Having undiagnosed ADHD can harm a person’s way of life to great lengths. As some symptoms may start to fade with age, it will be a lifelong problem if it goes untreated.

 

Symptoms of Adult ADHD

If this much time has passed and you think you may have ADHD, we recommend getting it diagnosed so that you can have access to the treatment you need! But before we get into that, do you know what the common symptoms of Adult ADHD are?

 

Adults living with ADHD may:

  • Have time management issues
  • Have difficulty meeting deadlines
    Staying organized
  • Relationship issues with friends and significant others
  • Have issues with their emotional control

If we compare it to whence they were children, their hyperactivity has evolved to a general restlessness; A kid’s impulsivity has masked with time and now comes out through impulsive spending habits, conversation interruptions, and engaging in risky behaviors.

On the other side of things, we need to consider the emotional impact this has on adults. As we’ve mentioned earlier as a response to their symptoms, they’re likely to develop low self-esteem and or depression.

But – what does that mean?

 

ADHD and the Emotional Effects

Living with an unrecognized and undiagnosed condition like ADHD is bound to make someone question themselves – and probably a lot. We’ve encountered many who’ve said that they felt as if a light has been shined down on them bringing clarity and answers once they have received reasoning for their behaviors and reactions.
The most common emotional effects living with untreated ADHD:

  • Feeling inadequate for anything made them feel as if they were running on fumes.
  • Like they were from outer space as they couldn’t relate or make regular things work.
  • Super paranoid – as if everyone is making fun of them.
  • Like they had tunnel vision. They would be so consumed by one thing for years and left other important aspects of their life fall apart.
  • They felt bored and had trouble holding a job long term.

 

Neurofeedback for ADHD

Have you heard of Neurofeedback? It’s one of the most clinically effective ways to alleviate and stabilize symptoms of ADHD – along with Life Coaching and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

And this is all non-invasive and without the use of pharmaceuticals. Once you swallow the pill, you pretty much give up control. Side effects can make you sleepy, nauseous, have an allergic reaction that causes you to break out with a skin reaction… it’s all in the flip of a coin.

With Neurofeedback, you keep your control and train your brain to heal itself rather than teaching it to rely on medication to curb symptoms.

 

The Science Behind It

People with ADHD tend to generate too much of the slower brain waves, known as Theta brain-waves located in the Frontal Cortex. As a result, those with ADHD have a shortage of high-frequency Beta brain waves.

What Neurofeedback Therapy does is that it trains your brain to reverse the ratio of Theta and Beta brain waves.

Beta waves: associated with efficient information processing and problem-solving

Theta waves: associated with creativity, insight, deep meditation, and reduced consciousness.

 

You Got It!

It’s important for you, or if someone you love who you think has ADHD to know that you are in control and you can bring clarity to your life. Symptoms of ADHD can be overwhelming and drowning but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you want to schedule a Therapeutic Assessment to start your ADHD journey, contact us at any time and we can point you in the right direction

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What Is TMS And What Does It Do?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment that directs magnetic energy pulses at the specific regions of the brain that are involved in mood control. The pulses pass painlessly through the cranium (skull) and stimulate brain cells, which can improve communication between various parts of the brain. TMS is most commonly used to treat depression in people for whom antidepressants have had no effect.

 

History

As with many scientific discoveries, the principles of TMS were discovered many years prior to the invention of the first TMS device.

In 1831 famous physicist Michael Faraday discovered that if a magnet is applied to a material that conducts electricity, a flow of electric current results. Fast forward to 1938, when ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) was introduced as a treatment for major depression. For a time, ECT was the treatment of choice when all other attempts at alleviating the symptoms of major depression failed. ETC causes seizures in the brain and is administered under general anesthesia.

Although ECT may relieve depression, it has severe side effects, such as memory loss and a decrease in mental clarity (“brain fog”). It has often been thought of as a cruel, crude attempt to rid a person of depression, as so many times the personality is permanently changed. (The procedure was scandalous in the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”)

In 1985, Anthony Baker at the University of Sheffield in England began exploring the use of magnetic fields to change electrical signaling in the brain. Shortly afterward he introduced TMS to the world. Many clinical trials followed, and in 2002 Canada approved TMS as a treatment for depression.

 

Your Brain

The human brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons. An electrical charge flows between them, carrying chemical “messages” from one to the next. Teamwork among neurons is essential for the neural network to perform at its best.

If there is a breakdown in the communication system along the neural network, a domino effect is created, and neurons cease to function as they should. This breakdown can affect many parts of the brain, including the area of the brain responsible for mood control. Severe depression can result.

Brain scans of people who are depressed show that some areas of the brain have less electrical activity than the brains of non-depressed individuals. This is particularly true in the pre-frontal cortex—the area of the brain just behind your forehead, which is the center of mood control.

 

How TMS Works

TMS does not require anesthesia and it doesn’t involve surgery. No “down time” is required after a session. You can return to normal activities, including driving, immediately.

Before your first TMS session, your doctor will need to identify the best place to put the electromagnetic coil on your head and the best dose of magnetic energy for you.

During a TMS session, you will sit in a comfortable chair and insert earplugs (the procedure is rather noisy!). The coil is placed against your scalp in the predetermined spot.

The coil painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex. The pulse activates portions of the brain that have become less active and have contributed to depression.

Your session will last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, although some newer devices require sessions as short as 3 minutes. You will hear clicking sounds and feel a tapping, knocking, or tingling sensation in your head. You may feel some discomfort in your scalp during the session and for a short time afterward.

You will typically undergo five sessions per week for four to six weeks. It may take a few weeks for you to notice a difference in your depression. Whereas not everyone will have the same response to the treatment, over 50% of people who undergo TMS feel a vast improvement in their depressive symptoms. The effects of the treatment can last up to a year. Some people choose to do maintenance sessions to ward off future symptoms. However, some people find that their depression disappears completely.

 

Can TMS Help With Other Disorders?

Researchers continue to study TMS to determine if it can alleviate other disorders. Some European countries have already approved TMS for the following conditions:

  • Pain management
  • Pediatric depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Chronic Pain

 

Is Everyone A Candidate For TMS?

Since TMS uses magnetic energy, it is not suitable for people who have metal in their head or neck, with the exception of braces or dental fillings.

Other objects that would prevent TMS treatment include:

  • Aneurism clips
  • Stents
  • Deep brain stimulators
  • Metallic ear or eye implants
  • Shrapnel or bullet fragments
  • Pacemakers

Other factors that may exclude you from TMS are:

  • Certain other mental health disorders
  • Substance misuse
  • Psychosis
  • Brain damage from illness or injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke

 

Promising Treatment

TMS is a promising treatment for those whose depression has been relentless. It’s important to note, however, that while your depression may be the result of an imbalance in your brain, it may have been made worse by your inability to function while being depressed. Often those who are depressed stop taking care of their health, sleep patterns, hygiene, diet, and relationships. TMS can increase your energy level, enabling you to improve areas of your life that depression has caused you to neglect.

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How TMS Affects Depression

Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability worldwide, afflicting 322 million people. It is an “equal opportunity” illness, affecting people of all races, genders, ages, religions, and communities, making it a significant public health concern. Many people who suffer from depression cannot work, study, or even maintain healthy relationships with family and friends.

The most common treatment for depression is antidepressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. However, 20% of depressed people have what is referred to as “treatment-resistant depression,” meaning that common treatments have no effect.

 

What Causes Depression?

There are basically two types of depression: situational and clinical.

Situational depression is caused by an external event, such as a death, breakup, loss of job, or moving away from family and friends. In other words, if the cause of the depression were reversed—if the person hadn’t died; you got back together after a breakup; you got a new job; you moved back with family and friends—the depression would disappear.

Situational depression can often be reversed with a change in the way you think about the situation. By looking at the depressing situation differently—finding the silver lining in the dark cloud hanging over you—you begin to feel better. To a great extent, you have control over how bad you feel. It’s the “make lemonade when life gives you lemons” approach.

Clinical depression has internal causes—inside your brain. No matter how happy life is on the outside, you are still depressed. If the day presents with sunshine and rainbows, you still feel sad, hopeless, worthless, and empty. You lose interest in activities that used to bring you joy. It is this kind of depression that often becomes disabling.

 

What’s Going On In Your Brain?

Your brain is made up of microscopic cells called neurons. On average, there are 100 billion neurons inside your brain, and each neuron has a specific job to do. To do their jobs, they have to work as a team and “talk” to each other. They communicate by exchanging chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Each neuron is separated from the next by a tiny gap, called a synapse. An electrical impulse travels through a neuron, triggering the neuron to release a neurotransmitter into the synapse. The next neuron takes the neurotransmitter and turns it into an electrical impulse that travels through it until it gets to the next synapse, where it is turned into a neurotransmitter that bridges the gap…and on it goes from neuron to neuron at lightning speed in your brain.

Your ability to function in everyday life—to pay attention to your surroundings; to learn; to remember; to make decisions; to manage your emotions—all depends on how well your neurons work together as a team. When neurons cannot do their jobs, the way they are supposed to, important brain functions cannot be carried out properly. This is what happens when you experience depression (or another mental illness).

 

How Do You Fix Your Depressed Brain?

As previously stated, medication such as antidepressants can fix malfunctioning neurotransmitters, restoring the communication between neurons to good working order. However, when you swallow an antidepressant, the medication doesn’t immediately speed to your brain. The medication is absorbed in your gut and affects cells throughout your body.

Undesirable side effects of depression medication can occur, including:

  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Science has produced many different antidepressants that work on many different neurotransmitters. But finding one that works for you is often a trial and error process, and it can take many months to find the right one. In fact, fully half of depressed people are never helped with antidepressants—which, when you think about it, is even more depressing!

 

And The Answer Is…

Remember that electrical impulse that travels from neuron to neuron in your brain?

In 1831 a famous scientist called Michael Faraday discovered that a brief magnetic field applied to a substance that conducts electricity generates a flow of electric current. To make a long story short and simplified, neurons conduct electricity, so applying a magnet to neurons will cause current to flow through the neuron, which can change their activity.

We won’t get into exactly how this happens in your brain. Suffice it to say that in 1985 a device was invented that could alter the activity of neurons in the brain by applying a magnetic field to the scalp. The technique was called “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation,” or TMS for short. Transcranial means that the magnetic field goes through your cranium—your skull—and magnetic stimulation refers to the use of a magnetic field to stimulate the neurons in your brain underneath your skull.

When TMS was first discovered, scientists were excited to learn which parts of the brain were connected to various parts of the body. For example, they found that if one part of the brain was stimulated through the scalp by TMS, it made the hand twitch.

Researchers than wondered if TMS could alleviate depression, and in the 1990s they began to conduct a lot of studies. They did brain scans of people with depression and discovered that certain sections of the very front of the brain—called the prefrontal cortex—showed less electrical activity in a depressed person than in a person without depression. Researchers then applied TMS to that part of the prefrontal cortex to increase electrical activity in the brain, and the depressed person felt better!

 

Is TMS Safe?

In the past 25 years, research into TMS and depression has continued. TMS was approved as a treatment for depression in Canada in 2002.

Unlike antidepressants, side effects—if they occur at all—are localized and do not affect the whole body. Side effects may include mild headache and irritation on the scalp where the TMS coil (the magnetic device used in the treatment) is placed.

TMS does not work for everyone, and you are probably not a candidate for TMS if you

  • Have a history of seizures
  • Have metal in your body (excluding braces and fillings in teeth)
  • Have brain damage from illness or injury
  • Have frequent or severe headaches
  • Have certain other medical conditions

Your doctor will examine you carefully before recommending you for TMS. Be sure and tell him/her everything about your medical history.

 

But Is TMS Effective?

Approximately 50% to 60% of people with treatment-resistant depression experience a positive response from TMS. The results seem to last about a year, though some people find permanent relief. After the initial treatment, maintenance sessions may be advised to sustain the positive results.

If you suffer from treatment-resistant depression, TMS might just be the answer you’ve been seeking!

 

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How Neurofeedback Can Increase Healthy Brain Functioning

Have you ever done this?

You are driving to work by the same route you have driven a thousand times before. When you get to work, you have no memory of the drive. It’s like your brain was on autopilot. You do remember what you were thinking about as you drove—the surprise visit you had from an old friend, or the delicious dinner you had last night, or myriad other things. However, you don’t remember stopping at stop signs, or seeing familiar landmarks as you passed them on your way to the office.

The next day, you are driving the same route again—only this time, you see a road crew and a sign that says, “Detour.” Suddenly you are paying attention as you figure out a new way of getting to work.

The detour is in place for several weeks, as the road project is an extensive one. After a couple of weeks this new route becomes as familiar as the old one was, and soon your brain is on autopilot once again as you drive to work.

So what happened?

 

Your Wonderful Brain

Your brain is a marvel. It is made up of billions of cells called neurons that use electricity to communicate with each other. This electricity moves through the brain in patterns called brainwaves. Each brainwave moves at a specific speed, or frequency. Some brainwaves move relatively slowly; others are very rapid. Everyone has the same brainwaves, but the pattern of those waves differs from one individual to the next.

Certain brainwave patterns are associated with specific conditions. For example, people with ADHD often have too many slow waves in the front of their brains and not enough of the faster brain waves. This causes them to have a hard time focusing.

But a person with ADHD is not doomed to suffer for the rest of his life. The brain has the ability to change the way it functions—and you have the ability to make that change. When you had to find a new route to work because of the detour, your brain learned the new route by creating new pathways of communication between neurons. And it got so used to the new route that after a couple of weeks of driving it, you no longer had to consciously think about how to get to work. (But please be cautious and alert when driving anyway!)

How do we know all this about the brain?

 

Brain Mapping

For thousands of years, humans have been curious about the brain and how it works. Some grotesque experiments have been done over the centuries to study the brain, but in the 1880s scientists developed non-invasive techniques, and improvements continued from there.

We now have ways to “map” the brain’s electrical signals and detect areas that might not be working as well as they could. And scientists have discovered marvelous ways to correct these flaws and help people live more comfortable lives.

 

Train Your Brain

The process of getting our brains to function in healthier ways is called operant conditioning. Those are big words that carry a simple meaning. Think of it this way: You want to teach your dog to sit. Each time he sits on command, you give him a treat. He eventually learns that every time he sits when you say “Sit!” he is rewarded by a treat, so he becomes a very obedient to that command.

You can train your brain in much the same way through Neurofeedback.

 

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback works on the same principle as training your dog. You will first go through a brain mapping session, where sensors will be placed on your scalp to measure your brainwaves and determine which areas of your brain (if any) are not working as well as they could be.

After your brain has been mapped, the Neurofeedback therapy can begin. A trained clinician will again place sensors on your scalp. You will be connected to a computer monitor, so you will actually be able to see your brainwave patterns. The clinician will then lead you in a series of exercises aimed at changing the brainwaves in certain areas of your brain.

You will hear sounds and tones and will receive visual feedback on the computer screen and be rewarded—not by dog treats—but by puzzles, animations, or video graphics when your brain behaves as coached. Your brain will practice the desired behavior and will eventually develop the ability to maintain that behavior by itself.

With Neurofeedback, you are actually changing your brain by teaching it new and better ways of functioning.

 

What Conditions Does It Treat?

It’s important to know that Neurofeedback is not considered to be a cure, but rather is a method of managing or controlling the workings of the brain so it functions in a healthier way.

 

Following is a list of just some of the conditions Neurofeedback has been used to treat:

  • Insomnia
  • Memory
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Certain seizure conditions
  • Addiction
  • Pain
  • Headaches

 

Who Uses Neurofeedback?

Various professional sports teams use Neurofeedback to enhance performance, including the US Olympic Ski Team, Olympic beach-volleyball player Kerri Walsh-Jennings, and members of the Italian soccer team.

The Canadian short-track speed skating team used neurofeedback to help them achieve five medals, including two golds, at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has used Neurofeedback. In fact, Alan Pope, a scientist at NASA, discovered that neurofeedback could improve astronauts’ attention and engagement to tasks, which, as you can imagine, require sharp, unwavering focus.

 

All Good!

Neurofeedback has no side effects to speak of. Occasionally people feel tired after a Neurofeedback session, owing to the energy they have expended in concentrating on changing the brain.

Overall, though, neurofeedback is an excellent and long-lasting way to retrain your brain to function more efficiently and effectively.   If you or someone you love is interested in trying an alternative, non-invasive therapy, or to augment a current treatment, get in touch with Elumind’s Client Care and schedule a therapeutic assessment and start the journey of healing.

 

 

 

 

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Neurofeedback As A Treatment For Major Depressive Disorder

Jane was beyond discouraged. She had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder a year ago. Her doctor prescribed antidepressants, but none of them proved effective. Besides, some of them had horrible side effects. She was about to give up; life was not worth living this way.

Then Jane read about Neurofeedback and its positive effect on depression. She decided to give it a try and was amazed at the results.

 

The Great Disabler

The World Health Organization has called depression “the leading cause of disability worldwide,” with 300 million individuals suffering across the globe. There are treatments for depression, but up to one-third—one hundred million people—don’t respond to treatment, even after trying various antidepressant medications. This is known as TRD, or Treatment Resistant Depression. For these folks, there are few options left.

But Neurofeedback is one remaining option that works. Decades of study and research have been done on the effect of Neurofeedback on depression and, as Jane discovered, the results are amazing and give hope to those with TRD.

 

This Is Your Brain On Depression

A number of years ago a television commercial showed an egg frying and sizzling in a hot pan. The caption was, “This is your brain on drugs.”

A similar commercial for depression could show an ominous grey cloud in a darkened sky, pouring unceasing, cold, hopelessly miserable rain. That’s how Jane felt all the time. Even when happy events happened around her, she felt a constant undercurrent of sadness and despair that just wouldn’t go away.

 

Your Brain

Different parts of your brain are responsible for different functions.

Note that emotional reactions are seated in the frontal lobe (the yellow left part of the brain in the diagram above).

When seen from the top, the brain looks something like the picture below. Note that there are two halves, or “hemispheres,” of the brain. In a minute, you’ll see why this is important…

(By the way, no one’s brain is this colorful!)

 

Brainwaves

Your brain is a very complex organ made up of billions of neurons with trillions of connections. The communication between neurons is at the root of all your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Messages are relayed between neurons in fractions of a second by electrical impulses.

Brainwaves are produced by synchronized electrical pulses of masses of neurons communicating with each other. Brainwaves travel at different speeds, or frequencies, in the brain, and are associated with different brain states, as seen below.

 

What Does This Have To Do With Depression?

Different brainwaves have been shown to be associated with different moods. Scientists can see your brainwaves by placing sensors, or electrodes, on your scalp, and connecting them to a computer. The electrical activity in various parts of your brain will show up on the screen.

Your mood is happier when the left frontal area of your brain is more active than the right frontal area. When the right frontal area is more active than the left, your mood is much worse.

Here’s where Neurofeedback comes in…

 

A Gym For Your Brain

When you want to get physically fit, you exercise various parts of your body. Positive results don’t show up after your first visit to the gym. It takes time and consistent effort to develop the body you want.

Neurofeedback is a way to help your brain become “fit” through intensive brain training exercises. The process is simple, painless, and non-invasive. It’s just learning! You learn to change the activity of your brainwaves through feedback and practice.

Here’s the procedure:

A trained clinician will attach electrodes to your scalp. No electricity will go into your head—the electrodes will simply measure your brain’s electrical activity and give you feedback that you can see on the computer screen.

You’ll go through various mental exercises, and the screen will give you instantaneous information about any changes you have been able to make in your brain’s electrical activity. When you meet the goal the clinician has set for you, you’ll get a signal.

Neurofeedback allows you to change the “mood network” in your brain. Studies show that Neurofeedback for depression results in more positive thinking patterns, and a reduction in the negative ways of thinking associated with depression.

Just as reshaping your body will take more than a few sessions in the gym, reshaping your brain will take numerous sessions too. Some people feel relief after 15–20 half-hour sessions; others may take 40 or 50 sessions to feel a difference. It just depends on each individual’s brain.

 

Real-Life Stories

The following accounts of John and Mary come from The Neurodevelopment Center, Inc., in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

“John had a longstanding history of problems with mood. Like most people with depression, John also suffered from anxiety. He had been in psychotherapy several times before and was taking three medications when he began Neurofeedback. We measured his level of depression and anxiety with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories—well-established psychological tests. His scores showed moderate depression and a mild level of anxiety, even with the three medications. After ten weeks and 20 sessions of Neurofeedback, we repeated these tests. By this time, he had stopped all three medications. His scores showed very significant improvement in mood and anxiety. After his brief course of Neurofeedback training, he showed minimal signs of depression and anxiety—this time without medication. John has visited us periodically over the course of three years. He continues to do very well, with no return of symptoms.”

“Mary was a fifty-five-year-old woman with severe depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She was treated for many years with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. In fact, her treatment was overseen by one of the world’s leading experts in OCD. But years of this treatment regimen had yielded very little benefit. She came to us extremely discouraged, more or less hopeless, and largely unable to function. We used the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a worldwide standard, to measure her depression severity before and then after 20 neurofeedback sessions. Mary’s mood had improved markedly. Her scores on the BDI decreased from a severe level score of 38 to a score of just 1! Her OCD symptoms diminished also…

“It is now five years later. Mary [does Neurofeedback training] a couple of times a month. This small amount of training maintains her with a positive mood and with very little anxiety.”

 

The Upshot

There is ample scientific proof, going back decades, that Neurofeedback works to alleviate major depression—even depression that is resistant to all other treatments. Because your brain is different from everybody else’s brain, no one outcome is guaranteed.

But it’s worth a try, isn’t it?

If you or someone you love is suffering from depression and would like to have a professional distinguish and identify the condition, please reach out to Elumind Customer Care. We can help by scheduling you for a therapeutic assessment with our clinical psychologist and create a personalized Neurofeedback protocol and training plan for you. You can literally begin recovering and healing right away.

 

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How Neurofeedback May Alleviate Symptoms of ADHD

The most traditional treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is stimulant medication. However, medication may come with side effects—and it treats the symptoms, not the root cause of the problem.

Think of the common cold. The cause is a virus, and the symptoms are often a sore throat, runny nose, and cough. You can treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medications that will temporarily relieve or stop them. However, they do nothing to actually get rid of the virus.

So, if stimulant medications relieve the symptoms of ADHD, what will treat the actual cause?

Enter Neurofeedback.

 

What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is not medication. It is a technique, a learning process, that teaches you to control certain brain functions.

Put another way, once you swallow medication, you are no longer in control of it. You have given up control to the little pill and are subject to its effects and side effects on your body. The pill may make you sleepy; it may make you nauseous. If you have an allergy to it, it may cause you to break out in hives. It could even kill you…

With Neurofeedback, though, you are in complete control. In the process of Neurofeedback, you are retraining your brain to act in different and better ways.

How is this accomplished?

 

How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Your brain is very complex, and there’s a lot of stuff going on up there. One very important part of your brain is brainwaves, which are patterns of electrical pulses that enable the various parts of your brain to communicate with each other.

For our purposes, we’re going to keep it simple, and we are going to concentrate on only five types of brain waves: alpha, beta (BAY-ta), delta, gamma, and theta (THAY-ta) waves. Each of these brainwaves moves at different speeds (frequencies) through the brain and each has a particular effect on the brain. Frequencies are measured in hertz (abbreviated Hz.)

Think of a symphony orchestra. You’re sitting in the concert hall, and the percussionist is beating the timpani (kettle drum) in long, slow beats. This represents the delta waves—the slowest of the brain waves. It’s almost a hypnotic sound—you find yourself falling asleep. Suddenly the flute joins in with very fast, high-pitched notes. Those are the gamma waves—the fastest of the brain waves. Suddenly you’re wide-awake and energized! The other brainwaves correspond to other instruments in the orchestra—not as slow as the drumbeat, and not as fast and excitable as the flute.

Following are the five brainwaves broken down into their frequencies and their general characteristics.

  • Frequency range 1­–4 Hz. Associated with deep, restorative sleep; unawareness; deep unconsciousness.
  • Frequency range 4–8 Hz. Associated with periods of creativity; insight; daydreaming; depression; anxiety; and distractibility.
  • Frequency range 8–12 Hz. Associated with alertness; peacefulness; readiness; meditation; physical relaxation.
  • Frequency range 13–30 Hz. Associated with thinking, focusing, sustained attention; tension; alertness; intensity; excitement.
  • Frequency range above 30Hz. Associated with learning; cognitive processing; intensely focused attention; problem solving tasks; mental sharpness; memory.

You always have some degree of each of these brainwave frequencies present in different parts of your brain. For example, if you become drowsy, more delta waves creep in. If you are inattentive to what’s going on around you and your mind is wandering, theta waves tend to build up. If you suddenly become anxious and tense, an excessively high frequency of beta waves may be present in different parts of your brain.

A person with ADHD tends to have too many slow waves (usually theta, and sometimes alpha) present in the front part of the brain (frontal cortex). As a result, this person will generally have problems with concentration and focus; memory; impulse control; mood regulation; and hyperactivity.

 

Neurofeedback Training for ADHD

Let’s say you have ADHD and want to try Neurofeedback.

A clinician with specialized expertise in brain function will do the testing. Because Neurofeedback is not one-size-fits-all, an assessment of your brainwaves is necessary to find out if you have too many or too few frequencies in various parts of  your brain. Your neurofeedback treatment can then be tailored specifically for your brain.

The clinician will place electrodes at various places on your head, corresponding to various parts of your brain. Rather, the electrodes will measure your brain activity—and you will be able to see it instantly on a computer screen!

Once the assessment is complete, your Neurofeedback treatment can begin. Your treatment may be only 30 or 40 sessions, or may be up to 60 sessions, depending on the severity of your ADHD. Each session lasts about 45 to 50 minutes.

At the beginning of each session, one or more electrodes will be placed on your scalp. You may then be asked to play a video game, using only your brain. You will use your mind to control what is happening on the video screen.

When your brain functions the way it’s supposed to, the computer will give you on-screen rewards. If you get distracted, the computer will let you know that you need to readjust your focus. With a little practice, you can control your brain activity and play the whole game without interruption.

In another example, you may be asked to watch your favorite movie instead of playing a video game. When your brain is focused, the movie plays. If you get distracted, the sound fades and the picture goes black—a signal that you need to refocus your brain.

What you are doing is retraining your brain to exist in a more focused state. You are actually changing your brain! Eventually you will automatically focus and won’t have to be reminded to do so by a black picture or fading sound.

Think of it this way. There was a point in your life when you didn’t know how to ride a bike. When you started out, you had to learn how to balance, how to pedal, how to steer, how to go around corners, and where to look.

Once in a while you may have fallen off the bike, which reminded you to pay more attention to what you were doing. Eventually, though, when you hopped on the bike, you didn’t have to think about pedaling and balance—your brain automatically knew what to do! And if twenty years went by and you had not ridden a bike in all those years, your brain would know exactly what to do next time you got on a bike.

That’s exactly how neurofeedback helps you control your ADHD symptoms. You don’t have to be reminded to focus—your brain just does it.

 

You’re In Control!

Neurofeedback is safe, and gives you control of healing and organizing your brain. You are not a victim of the brain you were born with. You are the master of the brain you have altered with Neurofeedback. If you or someone you love is interested in trying an alternative, non-invasive therapy, or to augment a current treatment, get in touch with Elumind’s Client Care and schedule a therapeutic assessment and start the journey of healing.