Am I Controlling the Way I Think or is it Controlling Me?

Am I Controlling the Way I Think or is it Controlling Me?

Have you ever wondered “what’s going on in her brain” about your 6 year old? Or “what in the world makes him act that way”about your husband? Or have you ever been around someone and struggled to figure out why they say the things that they say?

Psychological theorists such as Albert Ellis have taught us that how we think will directly affect how we feel which in turn affects how we behave. Yes, this is true, but what controls our thinking?

I’ve tried and tried but I feel as if there’s a force that keeps me from fixing this thinking even though I know it needs to change.

Neuroscience research has discovered the phenomenon of “Neuroplasticity” which is simply defined as the brain’s ability to change throughout a person’s life. Researchers believe that our experiences and thoughts can change neuron firing patterns. It is also believed that injuries to either the structure of the brain (lesions, tumors) or to the soft tissue (closed head injury, brain bruise) can also change neuron firing patterns as well as psychological trauma, viruses, and chemicals either from medication, substance abuse, or the environment. And of course, there are many more of us that have inherited a disrupted brain pattern and have to sit back and watch history repeat itself through generations.

We are extremely vulnerable to changes in the neuron firing patterns in our brain. But does that mean that we’re all doomed? Not exactly. Because not all conditions cause disruption, we really have no way of knowing if a traumatic event, hereditary condition or external force will or will not impact our brain. So we’re left wondering, is my brain pattern controlling me? Or am I controlling my brain pattern?

First, what does a disrupted pattern look like? Here’s an example; when the neural pattern in the frontal lobe of the brain is disrupted, it is suffice to say that emotions will be impacted. Depending on the precise area as well as details of the disruption, we are able to predict possible executive functioning difficulties, depression, anxiety, negative thinking, word finding problems, OCD behaviors, anger control issues, impulsivity, trauma responses, and problems with social interactions, just to name a few. So as the neuron firing pattern is out of balance or not working properly, our thought patterns can also be out of balance and not working properly.

The Relationship between Nutrition and Brain

By Renee Chillcott, LMHC

The Relationship between   Nutrition and BrainYOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 
We’ve all heard this saying before… but what would you say if I told you, “What you eat affects how you feel”? The fuel we give our body is the same fuel we give our brains. So it’s not a surprise that if you eat overly processed foods or too many sugars, you have an increased tendency towards anxiety, depression, attention/focus problems and many more. A child’s brain, for instance, cannot focus on school work or testing if it’s overcome with processing and breaking down food loaded with chemicals.

How do I know if what I eat is affecting my mood?
The National Institute of Health states: the following are health risks of being overweight or obese…
Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, Abnormal Blood Fats, Metabolic Syndrome, Cancer, Osteoarthritis, Sleep Apnea, OHS, Gallstones

And, according to the American Psychological Association obesity can cause:
Depression, Anxiety, Eating disorders, Stress

According to Medscapeobesity/over weight is comorbid with:
Schizophrenia, ADHD, Major Depressive Disorder/Suicide, Abuse/Trauma

I’m not overweight or obese, so I guess that means I’m mentally healthy, and this anxiety can be behaviorally controlled?

Incorrect. How much you weigh DOES NOT indicate how HEALTHY you are and most certainly does not indicate how mentally healthy you are.  What is being overlooked is the connection between what we eat, how well we process it in our body and what that means to our brain and mental health.

 

FAST FOOD MAKES ME CRANKY!
According to Harvard Health Publication”The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system.”

How often do you go to the Psychiatrist or Psychologist with anxiety or depression and they ask you what you are eating? Do they test your nutrition through bloodwork or DNA analysis (Hair Analysis)? Do you have toxic metals in your system contributing to anxiety, depression, or hyperactivity? Do you have slow metabolism causing insomnia? Or do you have inflammation causing depression? Unfortunately, more often than not, our nutritional states are not being evaluated by our physicians or therapists.

 

What if I eat a fairly healthy diet but still have issues with anxiety or depression?
Malabsorption, slow metabolism, toxic metals, yeast, auto-immune disease, and inflammation are just a few of the conditions we see that exacerbate or cause mental health difficulties. And these can occur from eating healthy foods such as broccoli or kale. Everyone’s body is working at a unique level and what may be beneficial or healthy for one person, can cause stomach upset and anxiety for another. At The Brain and Wellness Center, we offer services in conjunction with Dr. Serena Bordes, ND, DOM ,Lac, that measure the mineral content in your hair. With this information, a world of metabolic events can be interpreted. Not only can your nutritional status be viewed but we can also learn much about how efficiently your body is working. We can detect toxic metals, mineral and element imbalances, metabolism rates and absorption issues, as well as profiles including but not limited to hypoglycemia and candidiasis.

Don’t forget your Brain Training.
Neurofeedback works to regulate your Central Nervous System and the Autonomic Nervous System. These systems control information to hormone centers of the brain like the pituitary gland, as well as balancing the brain and “un-sticking” the “fight or flight” response that controls our CNS and ANS. This not only affects our metabolism and endocrine functioning but also causing emotional problems such as panic attacks and anxiety. Neurofeedback teaches the brain to balance neurons and to self-regulate or become “more flexible” in adjusting to stressful situations. Through this self-regulation, symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD, ect. will reduce or be eliminated.

Does Neurofeedback Really Work? And How Can I Tell?

By Renee Chillcott, LMHC

Does Neurofeedback Really Work? And How Can I Tell?We are frequently asked to explain Neurofeedback and then to show the results of training.  This isn’t the easiest task for us to master and I am writing this article to attempt to explain why.  The easiest way for me to relate information is through anecdotal metaphors so here it goes:

My father, at the request of my mother, goes to the doctor and they run bloodwork. The results revealed elevated PSA levels.  Prostate cancer was indicated, however, it was at a very early stage, so the Doctor advised my father to “get healthy” and come back in 6 months.

“Get Healthy” is a very broad term that is heard every day and you are supposed to know what it means.  But what exactly does it mean?  Does it mean just lower PSA count? Or a lower weight on the scale?  What in the world does HEALTHY mean?

What his Doctor didn’t explain more clearly is that there is no one value for “healthy” and that it means different things for different people.  What we measure in body can fluctuate and change from day to day and should be used as a guide rather than being taken literally.  Mental health is no different.

Neurofeedback works to make your brain “healthier” the same way that diet and exercise work to make your body “healthier”.  It’s difficult to put a number to health as it is a “STATE” rather than a goal.  The state of being physically healthy or mentally healthy means several systems working together in a positive harmony.

When you’re working to achieve physical health, the results can be difficult to quantify.  You may see some numbers change, however, the most significant indication that you are getting healthy is by how you “feel”.
If you feel healthy, you are healthy.  If you don’t feel better, you seek out another avenue or treatment.  Feeling better is the ultimate goal.

Why Do I have The Summertime Blues?

By Renee Chillcott, LMHC

Why Do I have The Summertime Blues?When we think of summer we imagine swimming pools, beach time, picnics, vacations and loads of fun-in-the-sun.  Our emotions are happy and carefree.  We don’t usually imagine depression or anxiety during the summer months, as we reserve that emotion for the winter.

So why does summer mean increased depression, anxiety and headaches for me or my loved ones?

The answer is simple….INFLAMMATION. But what exactly is inflammation?

The term for opening of capillaries and increased flow of blood is called vasodilation. Capillaries open and an increase in blood flow occurs in the area. An area of injury may visibly swells up and we describe the area as “swollen” or “inflamed”. In the case of body temperature, “when we are too hot, blood vessels supplying blood to the skin can swell or dilate (vasodilation). This allows more warm blood to flow near the surface of the skin, where the heat can be lost to the air.” After healing or a reduction in body temperature, the capillaries return to normal through a process called vasoconstriction. This process is happening on an almost consistent basis during the summer months when temperatures can reach into the 90’s to 100’s, even in the evenings and early mornings.

If the capillaries do not close or do not close fast enough, we help them along. We apply ice (constricting the capillaries) or take a medication that reduces inflammation (such as ibuprofen) or promotes vasoconstriction (such as caffeine).

But, what happens to our heads if our body temperature rises, we experience vasodilation, but then do not experience vasoconstriction? A headache occurs. This is the result of increased blood flow we can feel through pain receptors covering the brain or scalp.

What if there is increased blood flow in our actual brain? This part of our body does not have pain receptors. Our brain doesn’t technically “feel” pain. The result of increased blood flow in the brain that does not constrict is what we call Brain Inflammation.

 

What are some causes of vasodilation or increased blood flow in the brain?

  • Heat or increased body temperature
  • Inflammatory foods such as Gluten or Dairy
  • Traumatic Brain/Head injuries
  • Concussions
  • Viruses such as Lyme
  • Medications such as Antibiotics or Anesthesia
  • Illness, Sinus irritation or colds/flu

 What happens if there is increased blood flow (inflammation) in a part of the body that we cannot see?
After vasodilation or increases in blood flow, the brain, just as with other parts of the body should enter a period of vasoconstriction where blood flow decreases. If this does not happen, the blood flow or swelling remains. Unlike swelling in a wrist or ankle, the swelling that remains in your brain is not easily observed. Our first indication that we have increased blood flow that is not constricting is from symptoms.

Some of the symptoms that result from Brain Inflammation are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety or related disorders
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble with memory
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Trouble with learning
  • New allergies or sensitivities to food
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Increased pain
  • Insomnia or sleep problems

 

How do I fix brain inflammation?
Because we cannot see increased blood flow in the brain without special equipment, it can be difficult to know it is happening. As mentioned earlier, there are not pain receptors in the brain so we don’t have pain to indicate swelling or inflammation. Typically, we notice symptoms that do not seem to resolve as an indication that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed. There are medications that can provide some relief. However, when we are prescribing medication based solely off of symptoms, you can easily end up on the wrong medication track and not receive relief. Natural anti-inflammatory supplements can also provide relief as well as an adjustment to diet or change in lifestyle. However we recommend an evaluation and EEG study to confirm the inflammation and then suggest the appropriate treatment options for your situation.

 

What is an EEG study?

 

An EEG study or QEEG (Quantitative EEG) is also called a brain map and does just that…it gives us a map of what is going on with the entire brain at one time. We attach electrodes to the whole head, 19 spots, and then record the brain waves with eyes open for 5 minutes and with eyes closed for 10 minutes. This recording is then sent to be read and analyzed. We provide a summary of significant findings and the report shows the result of analyzing the data several different ways. The brain activity is not only compared spot by spot over the entire head, but we can also look at connections, symmetry, how different parts are communicating and all of this data is compared to a database of peers (same sex, handedness and age). It can help us see what areas of the brain have increased blood flow by indicating what areas of the brain have excessive amounts of slower neuron activity (slow neurons promote more blood flow). Another study that can be helpful is the SPECT scan.

Why can’t my child learn?

By Renee Chillcott, LMHC

Why can’t my child learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to figure out why your child is not successful in the classroom can be a frustrating and exhausting endeavor for parents to undertake.

  • Is it Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
  • Is it an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
  • Is it a Central Processing Disorder?
  • Or is it an Auditory/Visual Processing Disorder?
  • Could it be a Sensory Processing Disorder?
  • Or does my child have a low IQ?
  • Are they on the Autism Spectrum?
  • Or are they lazy or oppositional and a behavioral problem?

The truth of the matter is, if your child is struggling in school, they may have one, several, all, or none of these. In most cases, children of all ages want to learn. We are programed as human beings to value education. It’s only when what we want is inconsistent or incongruent with how we perform that an issue will arise. For example, if a child is 5 years old and hasn’t developed language, we say that there is a developmental delay and investigate the causes. The same holds true for a child that is struggling to learn. Instead of constantly demanding that the child change their behavior so that they can learn, instead it is more important to look for the reasons why they can’t. Detecting the inconsistency is the key to helping them succeed.

 

HOW DO I KNOW? AND WHAT DO I DO TO FIX IT?
There are different ways that you can determine what is happening with your child to prevent school success. They can be evaluated by teachers; evaluated by school staff; sent for specialized testing; evaluated by a physician; or by a therapist. You may also be able to use Google, search the internet, and read books that will point you to a reason or cause. However, the best, most effective, way of know what is going on inside your child’s brain is to look at it. With NEUROFEEDBACK and a QEEG (Quantitative EEG or Brain Map), it becomes possible to see the neural patterns in the brain that help us learn, focus, concentrate, and even follow directions. Once we identify the patterns that are not working properly NEUROFEEDBACK TRAINING (Brain Biofeedback Training), and/or PACE and iLS Training teach the brain to correct these patterns.

 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO SEE CHANGE?
Symptom relief with Brain Training can vary from person to person; some common improvements we see in people with learning issues are:

  • Increased Focus time
  • Less Homework Struggle
  • Increased amount of completed assignments
  • Improved working memory
  • Calmer and less fidgeting
  • Improved grades
  • More compliance
  • Better motivation

 

WHAT IS PACE / ILS?
PACE and iLS are learning systems that were developed to “exercise” the learning pathways in the brain. A cognitive Skills Assessment allows us to identify areas of learning that need improvement. A customized plan is then developed with one on one training to implement intense mental and physical movement exercises that stimulate the brain to make lasting changes in how it performs. The program targets the following areas:

  • Attention
  • Auditory Processing
  • Comprehension
  • Logic/Reasoning
  • Memory
  • Planning
  • Processing Speed
  • Visual Processing

 

WHAT IS A QEEG (Quantitative EEG) OR BRAIN MAP?
The QEEG is a quantitative EEG. It’s also called a brain map and does just that…it gives us a map of what is going on with the entire brain at one time. We attach electrodes to the entire head, 19 spots, and then record the brain waves with eyes open for 5 minutes and with eyes closed for 10 minutes. This recording is then read and analyzed. We provide a summary of significant findings as well as a full report that shows the results of analyzing the data several different ways. The brain activity is not only compared by individual locations over the entire head, but we can also look at connections, symmetry, how different parts are communicating and all of this data is compared to a database of peers (same sex, handedness and age). It can help us see what areas need to be addressed more efficiently than just training spot by spot. We don’t always need this data to make improvements in symptoms but we do recommend it in certain situations. A QEEG can also be helpful information when diagnosing and/or trying to decide the best medication/supplement recommendations.

What is LENS Neurofeedback and how can it work for me?

By Renee Chillcott, LMHC

What is LENS Neurofeedback and how can it work for me?LENS (Low Energy Neurofeedback System) was developed in 1990 by a man named Len Ochs. This was not, however, when Neurofeedback as a science and practice was developed. Neurofeedback or it may also be known as, EEG Biofeedback, EEG Neurotherapy, or Neurotherapy has been studied and practiced since the late 60’s. It is exercise for your brain; allowing you to see the frequencies produced by different parts of your brain in real-time and then through visual and auditory feedback, teaches the brain to better regulate itself. Neurofeedback can be used to help detect, stimulate, and/or inhibit activity in the brain safely and without medication. It can help restore a wider “range of motion” in brain states, much like physical therapy does for the body. EEG Neurofeedback helps you regulate the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the CNS determines how we function in life.

With the LENS system, electrodes are placed on the head in a similar manner, however, in addition to measuring and recording the neural patterns, the LENS system sends a gentle radio wave frequency through the electrodes that matches and reduces the intensity of the electrical patterns in the brain. The ultimate goal is for the brain to be taught through the feedback of it’s own energy. In our office we may use the LENS system exclusively or in conjunction with traditional Neurofeedback.

 

What does this mean to you, the client?
Increased reduction of THETA waves, accelerating healing time. This can be very effective for ADHD clients that have a large THETA/BETA ratio as well as Traumatic Brain Injuries from accidents, chemicals, Lyme Disease, and Autism to name a few.

As waves sent into the brain can occur quicker than auditory reinforcement, the sessions are significantly reduced. This is very helpful for autistic children who have difficulty sitting for extended periods of time and it allows us to “add” LENS onto traditional treatment protocols.

Very effective at helping the brain re-organize neural firing patterns, most significantly, when there are “stuck” neural firing patterns. Again, accelerating healing time and improving symptoms more quickly.

 

Is LENS safe?
LENS, as well as traditional Neurofeedback is extremely safe. As discussed in several articles and books regarding the LENS Neurofeedback system, it uses a frequency of radiowaves that is significantly less than the frequency emitted from electrical wiring within walls and “these levels are lower in intensity than the electrical field that surrounds digital wrist watches”. The frequency is also delivered in very short intervals, ranging from 1 second to 1 minute. Moreover, the LENS Neurofeedback system not only requires very little participation from the client, it also accommodates for traditional Neurofeedback artifacts of movement and restlessness. This has made LENS a highly beneficial treatment option for people on the Spectrum or suffering from motor skill impairments. Neurofeedback is an FDA approved treatment that is safe and effective for children and adults of all ages. Call us today to determine how LENS and Neurofeedback can help you.

 

What conditions does the LENS help with?

  • Cognition – Problems sequencing, memory, providing and maintaining attention, concentration, clarity and organization.
  • Mood – Anger, sadness, explosiveness.
  • Motor – Lack of grace, problems of eye-hand coordination, balance, increased muscle tone (from spasticity) and tremor.
  • Motivation – Problems initiating tasks, shifting from one activity to another, and/or completing tasks.
    Anxiety – Problems of anxiety system activity (too much uncomfortably-contained energy), persistent “anxiety”, restlessness, rumination, agitation, distractibility, difficulty breathing, palpitations, tremor exacerbation, and sleep interruption.
  • Reactivity – Hyper-reactivity, hypersensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivities.
  • Pain – Brain-generated pain (mis-mapping the origins and qualities of signals), and vascular pain.
  • Addictions/Dependencies – Lack of clarity about emotions and self-comforting, defensiveness, argumentativeness and cynicism.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue; or fatigue as a phenomenon secondary to the effort of trying to overcome the pain and/or the above impediment to functioning more easily.
  • Performance Optimization – Increases in functioning in the above areas in absence of any diagnosis.