Biofeedback therapy is a therapeutic remedy that works by helping you manage your stress and anxiety. Through this technique, you learn how to use and control signals from your body thus, you can also control stress-triggered pain.
This therapy utilizes some kind of device called the biofeedback machine. The machine can be used every day and works by giving you vital information regarding your body. Just like how a thermometer gives you information about your body temperature, or how a sphygmomanometer gives you information about your blood pressure, biofeedback machine works the same way by giving you details about what is currently happening in your body. The information or feedback that the machine provides will allow you to decide when and where to take action to ensure your optimal well-being.
These special types of therapy machines can help you diagnose your stress and anxiety levels and the possible risks they can incur to your physical and mental health. These machines can perform with greater accuracy and sensitivity than your average therapist. Once you are wired up to a biofeedback machine, consistent information is relayed to you in the form of noise, pictures or graphs representing the current activity happening inside your body.
In biofeedback technique, your body’s physiological responses are measured in real time. By learning these responses, you also learn how to control them. Biofeedback mainly relies on the utilization of machines in measuring muscle tension, heart rate and even brain waves. The operation of these machines requires a therapist or other health professionals who were trained to practice the procedure. Feedbacks from the machine are carefully read and explained to the patient with the intent of incorporating this information for the improvement of the patient’s wellness.
How does biofeedback work?
Biofeedback therapy generally assists you in managing your stress response by providing you awareness of when stress is initiating. Before these adverse responses worsen, it can be controlled by applying various relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and visualizations to calm and relax any physiological arousals. The concept of biofeedback comes from the enhancement of relaxation in your body and the reduction of constantly triggered fight-or-flight response. Many negative health symptoms are caused by chronic stress, and stopping stress response before it arises provides palpable and significant improvement in bodily functions and overall well-being.
Biofeedback can help you examine what to improve by giving you an understanding of how your body is functioning. This can also be used to determine the effectiveness of the different relaxation techniques by showing you real-time feedbacks of which are working and which aren’t. This way, you are able to perceive more effective ways to relax your body’s physiology and integrate healthier lifestyle.
What does biofeedback treat?
Biofeedback can be useful to treat a variety of health conditions by assisting the body to reverse the stress response. More importantly, it can help you stop these responses before they can even start.
Biofeedback has been known to effectively relieve general stress, anxiety, pain, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and many other conditions.
How to get started with biofeedback?
In some ways, you’ve probably utilizing simple forms of biofeedback already.
- Physical Awareness
Several physical responses can be felt and manifested even without the aid of any equipment. Indications of stress are easily sensed when your body feels tense and breathing becomes shallow. Awareness of these stress signals can conceivably be considered as a natural form of biofeedback.
- Household Tools
Conventional equipments found mostly in homes such as thermometers, scales, and even mirrors can be used to present information about some of your body’s functioning by indicating fevers, excess weight, and noticeable signs of acne which can be caused by stress.
The abovementioned forms of biofeedback can point out your physiology and signify the need for a lifestyle change, but information from these forms are not in-depth details and might be only showing you the tip of the iceberg. Common biofeedback typically involves more intensive analysis that can detect rapidly changing body signals that are more difficult for individuals to recognize. Typically, regular biofeedback requires the aid of a technician, but home biofeedback equipment has been available for home use recently.
You can install a home biofeedback system by hooking it up to your computer to display real-time measurements and how your physiology is responding to stress management techniques.
- Biofeedback Therapy Machine
Many different types of biofeedback therapy machines can be purchased and utilized at home but some of these types are more complicated and you need the help of a therapist who knows how to operate the machine and interpret the feedback. Below is the list of the different types of biofeedback machine that you can avail:
EMG can detect and assess muscle tension by placing sensors on your skin particularly on areas where tension is more severe. The areas usually include the muscle in the center of your forehead, muscles on the back of your shoulders, and jaw muscle. The sensors will generate some noise or display graphic signals when they pick up tensions in your muscles. With this feedback, you are allowed to aim your focus on the affected muscles and start to discover what feeling, thoughts and actions are affecting the signal in comparison to other parts that are showing more relaxed state. Having familiarity with the internal activities of your body will give you deeper understanding of the sources of your stress and you will be able to apply the appropriate techniques to relieve stress and alleviate tension in your daily life.
EMG had been effectively used to ease tension headaches, neck pain, backache, and teeth grinding. It can also treat other stress-related conditions such as asthma, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
This type of biofeedback machine monitors your internal activities by assessing your skin temperature instead of picking up tension in your muscles. This is a beneficial tool in treating circulatory disorders such as Reynauds syndrome indicated by numb and cold extremities. Sensors are placed on fingers or toes and they relay information on the temperature of your skin. This detail will suggest the need to warm up your hands and feet to increase their blood flow. Although blood flow is normally out of your conscious control, temperature biofeedback offers you to make unconscious processes turn to conscious in order for you to have control of it. When you are anxious or stressed, the tension will cause blood to leave the skin surface and shift into internal organs leading to a drop in skin temperature. Increasing the temperature by warming up your hands and feet will relieve your anxiety and calm your muscles.
Galvanic skin response (GSH) or Electrodermal Response (EDR)
GSH or EDR quantifies your sweat amount by monitoring variations in your sweat glands. Detection uses salt in your sweat and markers of water. Your sweat glands are most active when you are stressed and you tend to sweat more. High amount of salt and water in your skin means your skin can easily conduct electricity due to the fact that salty water is a great conductor of electricity.
GSH or EDR is also equipped with sensors which are placed on your fingertips. It measures the conductivity of your skin and sends out a signal in sound or light form to give you a clearer perception of your stress level.
Which of these types is the best?
These types of biofeedback therapy machines are all proven affective and your choice will depend on the procedure you find the most convenient and comfortable for you. Some consumers prefer the machine that gives off noise signal because they are provided with vital feedback even with their eyes closed. While other people go for machine that relays light signal through graphs and pictures as it gives them a clearer picture of the feedback which is easier to read and study.