The Impact of Biofeedback on Mental Health: A Closer Look
Serena Woodward 1 Dec 0

Understanding Biofeedback

Do you know that valuable feedback system embedded within our own bodies that can help us comprehend our body's functions at a deeper level? Yes, it's biofeedback. Biofeedback therapy isn't a new player in the field of mental health. It's been around for a while and is gradually receiving the recognition it deserves. The idea behind biofeedback is to enable individuals to gain control and understand their body's functions, like heart rate or muscle tension, more closely. Trained therapists help individuals understand these physiological signals and how to control them. Fascinating, right?

My first encounter with biofeedback was during my late 20s. I was dealing with immense stress due to an overload of responsibilities, from managing work, handling house chores, to taking care of my toddlers, Tobias and Adelaide. As a result, I was constantly anxious and irritable. It was Benjamin, my loving spouse, who introduced me to biofeedback therapy.

Why Does Mental Health Matter?

Before we drill deeper into biofeedback, let's consider why mental health is crucial. In today's fast-paced world, where we are perpetually connected and bombarded with information, taking a moment to pause and introspect might seem like a luxury but it's a necessity. Neglecting our mental health can lead to significant consequences affecting our overall well-being and vitality. From disturbed sleep cycles to diminished self-esteem, mental health disorders can manifest in various forms. Hence, it is of prime importance that we prioritize our mental health over anything else. And that's where therapies like biofeedback play an instrumental role.

Diving Into Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback therapy operates on the principle of mind-body connection. It uses medical instruments to gather information (feedback) about the body's physiological processes. Basically, it works by putting you more in tune with what's happening inside your body. Heart rate, blood pressure, brainwaves, temperature, and muscle tension, to name a few. Specifically to mental health, it's commonly used for conditions like anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I remember when I was undergoing biofeedback sessions, Ben would make it a point to accompany me. Those car rides became a special part of our journey towards my mental well-being. We'd leave the kids with their nanny - sweet Jane, and Benjamin, our Maine Coon cat, with Charlie, our Golden Retriever, who always managed to add warmth to an otherwise routine day.

Benefits of Biofeedback for Mental Health

What's amazing about biofeedback therapy is that it can adopt personalized approaches based on specific needs. It allows for a greater level of control over one's bodily processes, something that was once believed to be involuntary. Once you understand your body's reactions, you can gain significant control over your emotional and stress responses. This is particularly useful for managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. In the long run, it assists in building resilience and preventing relapse.

Techniques Involved in Biofeedback

Let's now delve into the types of biofeedback, which can be performed using several techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG), which is used to measure brain waves, and electromyography (EMG), used to measure muscle tension. There's also thermal biofeedback that measures skin temperature, and neurofeedback, designed to monitor and change brainwave activity. Each type of biofeedback requires different types of equipment; however, the process generally involves placing electrodes on your skin and viewing the biological feedback data on a monitor.

I can still vividly recall the quiet, calming sessions with my therapist working with me on muscle relaxation techniques using EMG, as I battled with the anxieties of everyday life. And let me tell you, the results were phenomenal. I began to feel a sense of command over my responses to stressful situations and my general attitude towards life started to improve dramatically.

Considering Biofeedback as a Treatment Option

While biofeedback therapy has shown promise in treating various mental health disorders, it is not a standalone solution. It is often integrated with other treatment strategies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or medication. Treatments for mental health disorders are extremely individualistic and what works for one, might not work for another. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional help and follow a tailored treatment plan.

Now, don't get me wrong. Biofeedback therapy is not a magical overnight cure, and it certainly wasn't for me. But, it was a stepping stone that steered me towards a healthier, more mindful way of life. And if my experience can help other anxious, stressed, overworking, and loving mums, dads, students, professionals, artists - anyone fighting their battles, it's all worth it.

Wrapping Up

Biofeedback therapy has a lot to offer when it comes to mental health. It's about tuning into your body, understanding its signals, and ultimately gaining control over your responses. In a world where stress is becoming the norm, it's high time that we explore holistic approaches like biofeedback to reclaim our peace of mind. And always remember, as in my case, the first step towards better mental health is acknowledging the need for help and reaching out.

So here's to becoming our own biofeedback controllers, one body signal at a time!