The Role of Neurofeedback Training in Treating Covert Childhood Trauma and Adult PTSD

Neurofeedback Training in Treating PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs after a life-threatening traumatic event. Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is frequently associated with military personnel, veterans, police officers, emergency personnel, and people who have faced life-threatening situations, the disorder can be triggered by any overwhelming experience.

Including years of emotional abuse and neglect as a child or even single events. Traumatic events are too much emotion for the brain to handle at that time, leaving a stress injury behind on our nervous system. An injury to your knee can leave you limping for a time. 

What exactly is childhood trauma, and what are the types of that?

Childhood trauma is a traumatic event that occurs before you reach the age of 18. Trauma during a child’s developmental years alters brain development, resulting in problems in many areas of your life. This broad definition can encompass various types of trauma, but Adverse Childhood Experiences are divided into four major categories.

Relationships Childhood trauma alters a person’s ability to connect with others. It can cause feelings of shame or a lack of self-worth, leading to unhealthy relationships. For some, this may manifest as unhealthy attachments with inappropriate people. Others may perceive it as a complete avoidance of relationships.

Processing Emotions in childhood, you learn healthy emotional processing (attaching the appropriate emotional response to an external stimulus). Childhood trauma can make it difficult to form these connections. It makes determining the appropriate response to experiences difficult for adults. You may experience rapidly shifting emotions or an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Childhood abuse has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, according to experts.

 Substance Abuse and Dependence Childhood trauma can make it difficult for adults to deal with stressful situations. As a result, people frequently turn to food, drugs, or alcohol as a coping mechanism. They use these substances to cope with intense emotional reactions to triggering people or situations.

Chronic Disease in Childhood is a traumatic event that can physically impact the adult body, increasing the risk of chronic health problems.

Trauma-induced surges in stress hormones can put you at greater risk for: Memory Impairment/Repression. Because childhood trauma is extremely traumatizing, some people’s brains “forget” the trauma as a coping mechanism. The brain pushes the memory down into the unconscious so that you can go about your daily life. Even if you suppress the trauma, it can still affect your behaviour.

What are the Adult Symptoms of Childhood Trauma?

Four symptom clusters define PTSD: re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, general mood and cognition changes, and hyperarousal. Childhood trauma can reverberate into adulthood, influencing your behaviours, relationships, and coping skills. Adults are affected differently by the effects of childhood trauma. It may imply avoiding close relationships or triggering situations for some. Others experience symptoms in the form of addictions or severe depression. The one thing these effects have in common is that they all cause distress to the person who is experiencing them.

What is Hidden Childhood Trauma

Relational childhood trauma frequently refers to physical and sexual abuse. Still, it can also refer to covert forms of mistreatment such as abandonment, enmeshment, parent-child role reversal, verbal abuse, love withdrawal, and many other forms of emotional abuse. Relational trauma can be challenging to recognize for children, caregivers, and outside observers. Even parents can see their less-than-nurturing behaviour as “normal” and even in the best interests of their children. This allows the mistreatment to continue for much of childhood and even into adulthood, subtly affecting emotional development. This is when adults repeat patterns of entering an unhealthy or violent relationship without understanding why or how.

Is it Possible for Adults to Overcome Childhood Trauma?

The consequences of childhood trauma can feel overwhelming in adulthood. Fortunately, therapy can help people recover from childhood trauma. Trauma therapy can assist you in identifying potentially triggering events, situations, or people. It can also help you learn to develop coping mechanisms to help you deal with the effects and symptoms of trauma healthily.

Treatment for PTSD

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for people who have PTSD as a result of childhood trauma. Recent research has revealed that the brain is more malleable than neuroscientists believed. Neurobiological pathways that have become disorganized as a result of relational trauma injuries can be reorganized through the use of appropriate treatment techniques.

Neurofeedback Training

Neurofeedback training is a form of biofeedback training. The effectiveness of neurofeedback has been studied for four decades. It is possible to consider neurofeedback training the most successful but little-known treatment. This potent therapy alleviates a wide range of symptoms related to a wide range of conditions by using operant conditioning or reinforcement. Your brain is reinforced for changing its behaviour through the neurofeedback process. You can use computers to support the subconscious with visual and auditory cues. But, by using computers, one is reinforced for unknowingly altering their brain waves.

Neurofeedback is a promising alternative or complementary approach for treating PTSD symptoms without causing undue distress. Neurofeedback can improve brain activity by monitoring and providing feedback on EEG or fMRI signals, which are used to self-regulate brain functions in real-time. Repeatedly inducing PTSD-related brain activity during feedback sessions may alter the frequency with which it appears spontaneously after feedback sessions. Traditional neurofeedback primarily rewards the brain with pleasant sounds or images to encourage the brain to have calm, regulated responses.

The effectiveness of neurofeedback training (NFT) on children who have experienced developmental trauma:

Children who have experienced developmental trauma rarely respond satisfactorily to currently available evidence-based psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments. NFT is a clinical application of brain-computer interface technology that aims to change electrical brain activity associated with various mental dysfunctions. NFT has shown promise in alleviating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by using child friendly, no threatening audio-visual rewards in the form of games to teach the person to self-regulate. 

Neurofeedback therapy is an alternative or complementary treatment option for symptoms of childhood abuse, complex trauma, and PTSD. It sends information to the brain, which aids in regulating the body’s autonomic stress response. Chronic Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) dysregulation is one of the conditions commonly seen in PTSD, and it means that we have lost the ability to control how we respond to our environment.

When a person’s life is threatened, they experience intense fear or sustain a physical injury. Their bodies react by shifting to sympathetic nervous system dominance, known as the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. When a person has experienced a number of traumatic events in their life, they may become accustomed to living in a constant state of sympathetic arousal or its inverse: chronic parasympathetic response, or shut-down. Complex trauma, such as that caused by subtler forms of emotional abuse and neglect, can be equally destabilizing.

Benefits of Neurofeedback Training in PTSD

 A. Improved Emotional Regulation

 B. Improved Cognitive Functioning

 C. Reduced Anxiety and Stress

Final Thoughts:

Adult PTSD due to childhood trauma is a condition that can be effectively treated by neurofeedback therapy or brain training. We at The Insight Clinic have brought to all Ontarians a novel at-home traditional neurofeedback therapy from Myndlift, which is clinical grade and science-backed treatment.

Neurofeedback Training in Treating PTSD. A soldier with PTSD

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic