Can neurofeedback be a “Nudge” to a Stuck Nervous System Due to Early Life Stress?
Growing up in a single-mother household created a lot of stress and fear that stayed with me even as an adult. Such a household dynamic brings a greater risk of poverty, which creates challenges in securing a safe place to live and putting food on the table on a consistent basis. Fear in childhood from stressful experiences can change the trajectory of a person’s health over the entire life span if not addressed, specifically an elevated vulnerability to addiction in all of its forms. Now, with the advent of the pandemic, we might need to add this to the long list of stressors that children struggle to adapt to as it might be years before the impact and lingering effects of the fear and isolation it has caused to be fully understood. Is it possible that neurofeedback might be able to “nudge” the fearful nervous system back in the direction of health?
What we have learned about adverse childhood experiences and the traumatizing effects of such, is that talking about it may not be enough to move through the fear and calm the emotional centers of the brain. More is needed and not everyone is willing to tolerate the side-effects of prescription medication, such as suicidal thoughts. Therefore, research into alternative and complementary non-invasive, non-medication treatments, such as yoga and neurofeedback, has increased over the past couple of decades, with very promising results.
A recent review focused on neurofeedback to determine if it might help move the autonomic nervous system away from fear toward homeostatic equilibrium in people who experienced early life stress. The researchers conclude that neurofeedback can increase the efficacy of other training protocols and more traditional talk therapy techniques.
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