Non-invasive neurofeedback to treat anxiety and depression

More people are seeking help for anxiety and depression than ever before during the pandemic. Some families are turning to a non-invasive treatment, that doesn't require prescription medications, for help.

Macey Pool was a competitive singer until she started suffering complications from a condition she was diagnosed with at birth that remained dormant for years.

“Our 14-year-old daughter in 2019 had two brain surgeries for hydrocephalus. She successfully made it through both her surgeries just great, but after the healing was over per se, from the surgeon's standpoint, Macey was just not the same. She didn't feel the same and she was really struggling,” explains Missy Pool.


The condition she mentioned, hydrocephalus, is a build-up of fluid on the brain.

“It was very difficult as parents to see your baby, make it so successfully through the surgery part, then the emotional, cognitive, was a mess. Macey suffered huge anxiety, huge. She's an extremely talented singer. She auditioned for America's Got Talent twice. She sings all over Texas. She could hardly make it to the stage, she had so much anxiety,” states Missy.

This was tough on the entire family, but they turned to Sandstone Center for Neurofeedback in The Woodlands area for help.

“With neurofeedback, what we're doing is we're looking at brainwave patterns. So we do an EEG, but it's a quantitative EEG, so it shows us the delta waves, the theta waves, the alpha waves, and the beta waves. Then, what the QEEG does is look at those brainwaves in comparison to other members in your age group. And so we're looking to see, are they in a nice healthy balanced pattern, or are they too high or too low, and when they get out of that healthy balanced pattern is where we have problems it can affect our mood, it can affect our memory,” explains Dr. Agnes Kaufman from Sandstone.


Macey's parents say undergoing neurofeedback was a real game-changer for her.

“It has changed Macey's life. We would go twice a week and Macey would say, we've got to bump it up, I've got to go see Dr. Agnes, can you call, can we go after school? We did, we were faithful and went as often as Macey felt she needed it,” says Missy.

While Macey had an extreme situation after brain surgery, neurofeedback is more often used to try to help people suffering from common forms of anxiety, depression and ADHD. They also have patients on the autism spectrum. All clients do is sit back, relax, and watch TV.

“They hook wires to your head, where they're targeting. Right now, I'm dealing with anxiety, it's right here, clip it to your ears, so it will read your brainwaves,” says Macey.

 “The way it works is pretty amazing. We tell the computer, we want to reward the brain every time it fires in a healthy pattern, so the patient is actually watching Netflix and we have sensors on their scalp, or the area of the brain where we want to get those brainwaves and a healthy pattern. Every time the brain fires with the brainwaves and that healthy pattern, the picture stays bright and the volume stays normal. When your brain gets outside that healthy pattern, that picture gets darker, and the sound gets softer, your brain does not like that. Your brain craves stimulation, it wants the bright picture, it wants the louder sound. It learns, ‘Hey in order to get what I want. This is what I have to do’”, explains Dr. Agnes.

She says it usually takes about 15 sessions to see a difference.

Macey says it sure has helped her.

“I feel so much more like myself, I got my life back,” smiles Macey.

She hopes it will help lead her to being her fearless self again on the stage.

At this point, insurance companies do not cover the cost of neurofeedback, but Sandstone says it works with its patients by offering payment plans to help.

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