Biofeedback is a treatment technique that is often used to complement a well-rounded mental health or addiction treatment program in order to improve results of overall treatment. Through the use of electrical sensors, biofeedback helps you to measure your bodily functions and aids you in learning how to control them with your mind – everything from your heart rate or muscle tension to your breathing rate and more, according to Medline Plus. Biofeedback can also be used as a relaxation technique.

Is Biofeedback Dangerous?

Electrical sensors that monitor bodily functions are the only tools utilized in biofeedback sessions, so it is generally considered to be safe. However, it may not be the best choice in treatment for everyone, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons with your treatment team.

What Is the Goal of Biofeedback Treatment?

When you have identified mental health issues that are problematic for you – like anxiety, phobias, stress, etc. – biofeedback can be utilized to help you deal with these symptoms. The ultimate goal is for you to learn how to mitigate or manage the effects of these symptoms on your heart rate, blood pressure, and other functions on your own by utilizing positive imagery.

What Happens During a Biofeedback Session?

In order to monitor your bodily functions, your biofeedback session starts when your therapist applies sensors to parts of your body in order to get a reading on your physiological state at rest, when stresses are introduced and when relaxation techniques are applied. The machine attached to those sensors may beep or flash as changes register. Throughout the session, you may practice different thought patterns or imagery choices to determine the ones that have the strongest effect on calming your body functions during stress. These sessions may last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour. The number of sessions will be determined based on your symptoms and your progress in learning how to control your bodily responses.

Are There Different Kinds of Biofeedback Treatment Techniques?

There are a number of different biofeedback techniques that your biofeedback therapist may use to track your body’s physical responses, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, including:

  • Thermal biofeedback. Based on temperature changes, this method works when your therapist attaches sensors to your fingers or feet.
  • Heart rate variability biofeedback. Utilizing commercial devices, this type of biofeedback focuses on helping you control your heart rate.
  • EMG biofeedback. Using electromyography, muscle tension is measured in this form of biofeedback.
  • Galvanic skin response. The activity of sweat glands is measured with sensors to rate anxiety levels.

What Issues Are Effectively Treated by Biofeedback Sessions?

Different symptoms may be minimized or controlled using the information gained through biofeedback sessions, including:

  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Pain
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart issues
  • Asthma or other breathing issues

Why Would You Incorporate Biofeedback Sessions Into Mental Health Treatment?

The more tools you have at your disposal to help you mitigate the effect of your mental health symptoms, the better – especially if it means that it lessens the amount of medication you have to take to manage symptoms. Many patients choose biofeedback because:

  • It’s noninvasive.
  • It does not require medication and may limit need for medication.
  • It may work when other measures do not.
  • It offers personal control to the patient in the management of symptoms.

Is Biofeedback Right for Me?

Choosing which methods, treatments and therapies to incorporate into your mental health treatment plan is a decision that must be made with the guidance of medical professionals who are familiar with your case. Contact us today to learn more about how alternative therapies and treatments can improve your recovery from eating disorders and substance abuse issues here at Futures.

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