Health & Medicine

Friday, 26 April 2019 10:57


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How stress has an impact on the economy and how to deal with it
Durban, South Africa: In South Africa, depression caused by stress and anxiety is measured to cost more than R232 billion or 5.7% of the country’s GDP in lost productivity – either due to absence from work or attending work while unwell.

So with an economic hit like that in mind, what exactly is the true definition of stress and anxiety; and what can us realistically do about it? Kerry Rudman from Brain Harmonics, a leading Neuro-Feedback Therapy practice which focuses on helping their clients deal with stress and anxiety explains, “Stress is the body's reaction to a threat or dangerous situation - be it real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your brain and body that allows you to act in a specific manner to prevent injury. This stress reaction is the typical "fight-or-flight,” response. During the stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. Your body and mind are ready to act. It is how you protect yourself.”

“Stress means different things to different people. Stressors in one individual will be of little concern to another. Some people are better able to handle stress than others. And, not all stress is bad. In small doses, stress can help you accomplish tasks and prevent you from getting hurt. Stress is what gets you to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of you - That's a good thing!” says Kerry.

No part of the body is immune from stress, Because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary, affecting all aspects of our lives including our emotions, behaviours, thinking ability, and physical health.

Symptoms of stress can be anything from emotional (feeling overwhelmed or bad about yourself), Physical (insomnia, tension in your body) to mental (worrying, racing thoughts) or even behavioural (changes in eating habits or mood swings).

A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including, mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, obesity and other eating disorders, menstrual problems, sexual dysfunction and loss of sexual desire, skin and hair problems and gastrointestinal problems.

Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. Traditionally, talk therapy has always played a key role in helping to deal with the effects of stress and anxiety ,however, in a fast paced world this form of therapy can take time to effect healing, and more often than not time is not something many people have access to. Newer forms of therapy are proving very positive in helping to gain results quickly, Neuro-Feedback being one of the more popular techniques. “Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback or Neurotherapy, is a ground breaking technique that challenges the brain to function better. This powerful brain-based technique has been successfully helping clients around the world for over 30 years. It is a non-invasive procedure with dramatic results for a multitude of symptoms,” explains Kerry. “Think of Neurofeedback as a personal training for the brain. Training the brain to function at its maximum potential is similar to the way the body is exercised, toned and maintained. Brain training exercises the neural pathways that allow the brain to have better function in a variety of areas.”

Neurofeedback is the science of changing brain waves by giving your brain real time information about where it is at. The brain produces waves of different frequencies according to its current activity. For example, during deep sleep your brain produces mainly delta and theta waves, which are slow waves. On the opposite end of the scale, while doing a difficult maths problem, the brain should produce mainly beta waves, which are fast and enable us to complete this kind of task.

The stress of our everyday lives has produced brains that are not always able to produce the correct brain wave at the appropriate time. So when your brain should be producing beta waves, your brain is not able to do that and your head may feel foggy, or you are unable to complete a task. At other times, when you would like your brain to slow down or switch off it starts to race and is full of noise or unhelpful thoughts. Many of us have experienced these situations from time to time and in extreme situations, where the brain fails to produce the correct wave for the situation regularly, the result can be a variety of disorders or negative reactions.

During neurofeedback, brainwave activity is measured, and when the brain produces the correct waves for a particular situation, it is given a reward through sound or vision. The brain is a self- serving organ, and very quickly recognises that when it follows the rewards, its own functioning improves. As the brain practices the tasks set for it, it grows stronger, in the same way that an exercised muscle grows stronger. This enhanced brain now has the ability to react more quickly and appropriately to a given situation.

Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain deregulation. They include the attention deficits (ADD, ADHD), anxiety, depression, Stress, Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, various sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, Addictions, focus, motivation, concentration and memory issues. It is also used to enhance sport performance, improve balance and co-ordination.

For more information on Neurofeedback please visit
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