EEG Biofeedback Training for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Over the past four years, we have observed considerable clinical evidence for the effectiveness of EEG biofeedback training as an adjunct modality for remediating the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS). The training appears to help symptoms of depression, cognitive deficits, memory and concentration problems, sleep disturbances, and chronic pain such as headaches. It also increases energy level. When it is used with persons who are not entirely disabled by the condition, it has allowed some 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 full remediation has not been demonstrated in such cases.
The mechanism of action appears to be that the EEG training impacts on the regulation of arousal, and it increases the brain’s regulation of its own functions. It does this by monitoring brainwave activity, and restoring it, by operant conditioning, to more normal ranges. The process is largely unconscious. The biofeedback modality simply makes available the necessary information upon which the brain then acts. No claim is made that the training directly addresses the fundamental cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However, 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 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may wish to evaluate the effectiveness of the training for themselves by undertaking it for an initial sequence of ten half-hour sessions. If the training is likely to be effective, they should see early signs of that within ten sessions: an increase in energy level, and perhaps favorable changes in sleep patterns or reduction in pain. A judgment can then be made as to whether it is worthwhile to continue the training. The first ten sessions should be conducted in close succession, at a minimum of three sessions per week. Daily sessions would be preferable. Under these circumstances, the gains from each training session are more cumulative, and also the changes induced by the training can be more readily distinguished from those ascribable to other factors.
Completion of the training may take some months, at a rate of one to three training sessions per week. Cumulatively some forty or more training sessions may be required. The training is monitored continuously, and if expected gains are not observed, then termination of the training should be considered. The clinical experience on which the above is based now extends to more than fifty cases.