PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop after an individual has been through an experience that is life-threatening or posed the potential of serious bodily harm to self, or others. When an individual is unable to overcome the acute stress response that accompanies such events, and experiences persistent symptoms of fear, dread, anxiety, intrusive memories and/or dreams of the trauma, it eventually becomes the chronic condition of PTSD. Long lasting emotional impressions of this sort begin to affect one’s psycho-social function, and often lead to the inability to perform in one’s personal or professional life.
PTSD symptoms are often precipitated by financial stress, marital discord, natural disasters, automobile accidents personal or terrorist attacks, sexual violence, or combat exposure.
The neurological and physiological nature of PTSD symptoms can have dire consequences on one's physical and mental health. The disruption of cortisol hormone levels, and the chronic activation of the fight-or-flight stress response, have been clinically associated with many other conditions including depression, dysregulated attention (ADHD), insomnia, chronic pain, and digestive dysfunction, among others.
An epidemiological study of over two thousand children found that just over 30% reported trauma, and nearly 8% experienced PTSD, by 18years of age.
Current mainstream therapies include pharmaceuticals, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy. The nature of these therapies is that they have either an invasive effect on the brain, or an indirect one. Psychotropic medicine has short term results, due to the duration of the drug’s effects. Behavioral and psychiatric interventions often do not deal with the brain directly. Since the brain is the foundation of mental health, cognitive ability, and general wellness, implies the need to interact with and influence its performance.
EEG (electroencephalography) is the measure of brain waves, which occur in varying amounts and regions of the brain. There is strong evidence that shows a link between the states and traits that the brain produces, and specific brain wave frequencies (Hz) and amplitudes. When it comes to PTSD, there are clinically valid electrical patterns of activity that are associated with the condition. Asymmetry between the proportion of alpha brainwaves on the right and left hemispheres of the brain have been shown in a large percentage of individuals with PTSD symptoms. This pattern is also seen in individuals who suffer from depression or anxiety, which are two common symptoms of PTSD.
The ability to read brainwaves in real time allows the technology of neurofeedback to digitally pair sounds and images simultaneous to specific patterns of activity. The application neurofeedback shows clinical superiority because it addresses the fundamental dysregulation that trauma impacts upon the brain. One specific protocol known as “alpha-theta” has shown clinical superiority and established long-term results in alleviating symptoms of PTSD in combat veterans.