Biofeedback is a treatment technique that helps patients better understand the relationship between their mind and body. This training helps to reduce the symptoms of stress through the use of relaxation techniques. Although biofeedback is commonly used for treating a variety of conditions, my staff and I have found it to be particularly useful in treating anxiety disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, and attention deficit disorder.
I was recently treating a patient diagnosed with anxiety that prohibited him from traveling. Unfortunately, he was required to travel frequently for work and previously enjoyed travel for leisure as well. A large component of treatment involved biofeedback, and this training allowed him to learn ways to calm his own anxiety responses in these stressful situations. Essentially, he was learning new ways to quiet his brain and nervous system and engage his relaxation skills when he entered an airport or boarded a plane.
Here’s how the treatment works: I place non-invasive sensor pads on the patient to record his bodily reactions to both stress and relaxation. The information about his breathing, body temperature, and heart rate was then displayed on a screen for him to observe, as I taught him ways to control his own bodily responses to panic. As treatment unfolded, he began using the relaxation techniques learned with biofeedback while he was in situations that made him feel nervous. Each week was a small victory as he continued proving to himself that he could manage his response to panic.
Biofeedback training is an effective approach to dealing with internal feelings and problematic physiological responses, like anxiety, insomnia, lack of attention, and chronic pain. When used in relationship to other evidence-based treatments, biofeedback can certainly help reduce suffering for people.
Dr. Tina Rago