Neurofeedback Training for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is fast becoming a more recognized illness that is diagnosed more and more in the medical communities. CFS can be seen mostly in women, but is becoming more prevalent in men as well. Also, both men and women are being diagnosed younger and younger. CFS is typically a disorder that is classified as an immune system disorder and/or a collagen disorder. It affects your entire body and leaves you with an overall feeling of malaise (general feeling of fatigue or weakness). CFS is also related to Epstein-Barr (a virus affecting the immune system and causing fatigue and weakness with ease of tiring).

Since 1991, The Institute has observed considerable clinical evidence for the effectiveness of Neurofeedback training in alleviating the symptoms of CFS, or Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS). Neurofeedback has been shown to help symptoms of depression, cognitive deficits, memory and concentration problems, sleep disturbances, and chronic pain such as headaches that are typically associated with CFS. As a result of Neurofeedback, individuals experience increased energy levels. When Neurofeedback is used with persons who are not entirely disabled by the condition, it has allowed many of them to return to full-time productive activity within a matter of weeks. In more severe cases, the impact of the training is generally felt to be helpful, but complete alleviation of symptoms has not been demonstrated in these cases. As expected with any treatment modality, there will be limitations to its effectiveness. Some patients experience full remediation of symptoms, while others only benefit minimally. This remains a mystery with CFS and most any modality used to treat the problem. However with that being said, Neurofeedback has demonstrated a very clear track record of alleviating symptoms associated with CFS.

Neurofeedback training appears to impact the regulation of arousal (autonomic nervous system), and it increases the brain’s regulation on its own functions (self-regulation improves). This works by means of monitoring “feedback” of brainwave activity, and restoring it, by means operant conditioning, to more “normal” brainwave ranges. The process of Neurofeedback is largely unconscious, much like learning how to ride a bike. Difficult to explain, yet easy to understand once experienced. The process of Neurofeedback makes available the necessary information upon which the brain then acts. The field is not claiming that the training directly addresses the fundamental cause of CFS. Rather, by increasing the ability of the brain to self-regulate, we may be increasing the ability of the person to manage challenges, including this condition.

Persons suffering from CFS may wish to be evaluated for candidacy in a Neurofeedback program and then determine the effectiveness of the training for themselves by undertaking it for an initial period of time. This evaluation process typically involves having a Quantitative EEG (qEEG) performed by a BCIA certified EEG professional. Once this is completed, if the training is likely to be effective, one should see early signs of progress within 10-12 sessions: an increase in energy level, and perhaps favorable changes in sleep patterns or reduction in pain. A decision can then be made by the patient as to whether Neurofeedback is worthwhile continuing. The first 10-12 sessions should be conducted in close succession, at a minimum of 2 sessions per week. Additional sessions would be preferable, however, the reality of time constraints are understandably difficult.

Completion of the training may take a few months, at a rate of 2-3 training sessions per week. Approximately 40 training sessions may be required to achieve the full potential of training. However, effectiveness and results vary from person to person and the amount of sessions may also be significantly more or less. The training is monitored continuously, and if expected gains are not observed, then the training should be ended.

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2 thoughts on “Neurofeedback Training for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

  1. Where do those of us who live in the medical desert call “West Virginia” go for neurofeedback expereinces that address CFS (now known as Systemic Exertional Intolerance Disease)? This illness destroyed my life 20 years ago and the healthy individuals who are teh powers that be are still arguing over the name!


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