September 26, 2010 Marion MacDonald

The Neurofeedback Alternative to Psychotropic Medications

Mirasol pioneered the use of neurofeedback in the treatment of eating disorders and is a center for research on the use of neurofeedback as an alternative to psychotropic medications. At Mirasol, when a client admits for treatment, we do not immediately medicate her! We wait to see if the client needs medication, if she needs a medication change, or if skill building and neurofeedback can work wonders. If we find a client in fact does need medication we will use natural products at first, then use pharmaceutical medications only if absolutely necessary and then for the shortest possible time.

Studies by Penniston and Scott show that neurofeedback can produce remarkable results when used to treat substance abuse. Since 40-50% of women with eating disorders have issues with substance abuse, it makes sense that the same kind of results can be found in using neurofeedback in the treatment of eating disorders. The use of neurofeedback is responsible for a great part of Mirasol's successes in treatment.

Very simply put, neurofeedback (or EEG biofeedback) is the science of reconditioning and retraining brain wave patterns. Although still considered "new," this learning technique has been widely used since the 1960s for stress reduction and the treatment of epilepsy. Just to be clear, the reconditioning and retraining of brain wave patterns is something the client learns to do not something that is done to them.

Eating disorders don't exist in a vacuum. They often occur in conjunction with other conditions such OCD, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. These collateral disorders are very easily and successfully treated with EEG.

All Mirasol clients receive a brain map during their first few days of treatment. The brain map pinpoints the area of the brain where there are brain wave deviations.
During typical neurofeedback training, sensors are placed on the scalp and/or ear lobes. A neurofeedback unit provides instantaneous audio and visual display of brain wave activity.
If you imagine yourself sitting in front of a computer and you are "wearing" your sensors, you'll be able to see your actual brain wave patterns on the computer screen. Yes, it's very cool!
This "feedback" allows the individual to influence and change brain activity. Through individualized neurofeedback training, the brain learns to increase or decrease certain frequencies in brain wave activity in order to function most efficiently for the task at hand. The changes are temporary at first but become permanent over time.

Nearly all of our clients admit with severe depression and anxiety. In the treatment of depression and anxiety, neurofeedback can work wonders. Neurofeedback can work miracles for those with a substance abuse problem It is the treatment of choice for ADD and ADHD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder responds very well.