Biofeedback - Mind Over Body
Mind over body, is it possible? For some people, biofeedback therapy helps them understand and control aspects of their body that are usually beneath their level of consciousness.
In the April issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, biofeedback uses techniques and computerized instruments to identify information about subtle, involuntary physiological changes within the body - muscle tension, sweating, increased heart rate and shallow breathing - in response to different stressors. Biofeedback professionals believe you can learn to control these responses to promote positive changes in your health, such as fewer headaches or lower blood pressure. Biofeedback is used to treat many health conditions, including backaches, teeth grinding, high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines and asthma.
During a biofeedback session, a therapist places sensors on different parts of your body to monitor your response to stress. The information captured by sensors is fed back to you via visual and audio cues, such as a computerized display or a tone that changes frequency. With this feedback, the therapist can help you learn to control your responses to reduce your symptoms, such as slowing your breathing to reduce anxiety.
About half of the people treated with biofeedback report that their symptoms improve by 50 to 80 percent. Treatment typically requires six to 20 sessions with a therapist. Once you've learned biofeedback, you can use the same techniques at home without the equipment.
If you opt for biofeedback, look for a therapist experienced in your particular condition. One good resource is the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (www.bcia.org).