We all feel a tinge of anxiety at various points in our lives. Problems at work, test-taking, making an important decision, or simply stepping out of our comfort zone can all trigger anxiety, the body’s natural response to stress. But living with an anxiety disorder can be a completely different experience. People with anxiety disorders often feel worried, panicked, paranoid, and afraid, even during less stressful moments. These overwhelming feelings interfere with their lives, which can negatively impact their job, school, work, relationships, and mental wellbeing. Luckily, research shows that a process called brain mapping may be able to help calm anxiety and restore anxious brains back to optimal health.
What Is Brain Mapping?
As the name suggests, a brain map is a visual representation of your brain. The image, also known as a qEEG, or quantitative electroencephalogram, shows how your brain functions and allows you to see brain patterns that identify mental strengths and weaknesses. In many ways, brain mapping is like a fitness assessment for your brain that “reads” and analyzes your brain’s electrical activity.
What Does Brain Mapping Show?
Brain maps provide vital information that shows which parts of our brains are overactive or under-active. Based on the brainwave activity represented in specific areas of the brain, qEEG can pinpoint:
- Head injuries
- Brain tumors
- Sleeping problems
- Memory problems
- Poor executive processing
- and more.
Brain mapping can also show abnormal activity in certain parts of the brain. By doing this, qEEGs may help predict:
- Difficulty paying attention
- Impulsive behavior
- Lack of emotional regulation
- Poor problem-solving ability
- The good news is that brain mapping can also help behavioral health experts strengthen these specific parts of the brain so they function more efficiently.
How Does Brain Mapping Work?
Advanced software captures and “maps” electrical impulses in the brain via a cap placed on your head. After just about 15 minutes, the software translates your brainwave patterns into data which is then converted into a visual brain map report. Doctors analyze that brain map and then customize a neurofeedback training and therapy program designed to:
- Boost areas of the brain that have too little activity
- Calm parts of the brain that have too much activity
- Improve performance in brain areas that are not functioning optimally
Brain Mapping and Anxiety
Brain mapping measures the activity of 5 different types of brain waves:
- Delta waves, also known as the brain’s “sleepy dreaming” waves, are essential for restoration and rejuvenation. These low-frequency brain waves mostly occur when you’re sleeping, relaxing, or meditating deeply.
- Theta waves often referred to as “drowsy meditative” waves, also appear when you’re relaxing or sleeping. Unlike delta waves, though, theta waves typically appear when your dreams become more focused and energetic.
- Alpha waves, or “relaxed reflective” waves, occur when you’re awake and alert, but doing a restful, thoughtful activity such as reading, praying, or journaling.
- Beta waves also referred to as “alert working” waves, mostly occur during our waking hours. Typically, these brain waves show up when you’re working, thinking, doing homework, or engaging in other activities that require attention, creativity, and focus.
- Gamma, or “peak concentration” waves, are the fastest brain waves produced by the brain. Gamma waves are responsible for cognitive functioning, memory, and learning and help you stay focused on the task at hand and pay attention.
How Do These Brain Waves Indicate Anxiety?
Too much or too little brainwave activity on a qEEG can indicate anxiety. Too many delta waves, for example, can lead to an inability to think properly, while too few delta brainwaves can prevent the brain from revitalizing itself, resulting in poor sleep.
Brain maps displaying the following might also indicate an anxiety disorder:
- Low theta brainwave activity, which typically indicates stress and poor emotional awareness
- Extremely high levels of beta brainwave activity, which contributes to high arousal and an inability to relax
- Low alpha brainwave activity, which can lead to high stress levels, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- High levels of gamma brainwave activity, which can also cause high stress levels and a highly aroused state
Luckily, brain mapping can also help relieve anxiety.
How Can Brain Mapping Help With Anxiety?
Brain mapping can help ease symptoms of anxiety by:
- Pinpointing abnormalities in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and stress
- Helping doctors and scientists retrain an anxious brain
Brain Mapping Can Pinpoint Brain Regions That Regulate Emotions
Brain maps can clearly show what’s occurring in various parts of the brain. Because of this, brain maps can help neuroscientists evaluate parts of the brain that are responsible for stress and emotional regulation. With a quick but thorough glance, neuroscientists, psychologists, and behavioral health experts can examine the:
- Hippocampus, which helps process emotions and long-term memories. Studies show that traumatic events, stress, and depression can reduce the size of the hippocampus.
- Amygdala, which stores memories of frightening events and other emotional experiences. Typically, people with anxiety disorders have an overactive amygdala. Brain scans can show which specific parts of the amygdala are overactive, which can indicate different types of anxiety disorders.
- Basal ganglia, which helps determine the body’s anxiety level. Increased activity in the right side of the basal ganglia can indicate an anxiety disorder.
- Locus coeruleus, or brainstem area, which helps you determine which brain stimuli you should pay attention to. Animal studies show that stimulating this part of the brain triggers anxiety-like symptoms.
By simply looking at a brain map, behavioral health experts can see how active, inactive, normal, or abnormal these parts of the brain are, which can help them develop a neurofeedback training and therapy program that can help “retrain” anxious brains.
Brain Mapping Can Help Neuroscientists Retrain An Anxious Brain
Unlike traditional therapies that treat anxiety generally, brain mapping can help experts create a neurofeedback training plan tailored to your specific anxiety challenges.
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive way to change the way your brain functions. Although the training requires sophisticated technology, the process is pretty simple. As you sit and watch a movie or video, sensors placed on your head monitor your brain’s activity. When the activity is too high, the movie dims, which “tells” your brain that it’s out of balance. In time, your brain “learns” to function more optimally, making you less prone to stress and anxiety.
Neurofeedback specifically helps anxiety by:
- “Teaching” the brain how to stay within a desired emotional range
- Helping you subconsciously build self-regulation skills
- Reversing hyperactive responses
- Calming overactive brain cells
- Helping the brain relax
- Improving your mood
Let Us Help You Achieve Optimal Mental Health
Anxiety can make you feel like you’ll never be able to escape fear, worry, and constant paranoia. But the expert brain science and clinical support we offer can help you reclaim your life. Brain mapping can help our behavioral health experts better understand your anxiety and design a treatment program that’ll fit your specific needs. You can have peace and optimal mental health. Contact us today if you’re ready to begin the journey.
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