EEG Biofeedback Training for PMS
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, or PMS, exhibits symptoms which are highly variable among individuals. It can best be regarded as a condition of disregulation for which cyclic hormonal variations provide the stressor. EEG biofeedback has been surprisingly effective in stabilizing individuals through these hormonal cycles. To date, these findings are strictly clinical. That is, no controlled research has yet been published. In fact, EEG Spectrum is currently conducting a multi-site study of PMS with EEG biofeedback. Preliminary results being achieved in the context of this study are quite striking. The study is on-going, and interested clients are encouraged to apply for participation in the study.
PMS symptoms include a variety of physical and emotional symptoms associated with a specific phase of the menstrual cycle. Emotional symptoms include irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Also reported is less interest in the usual activities, fatigue, trouble concentrating, change in sleep or appetite, and various physical symptoms, including pain and migraines. These symptoms must be correlated with the premenstrual phase only and must be sufficient to result in serious impairment of relationships or interference with activities in order to be regarded as clinically significant.
Many of the PMS symptoms are characteristic of depression as well, and indeed PMS may be seen as a depressive syndrome. Antidepressant and antianxiety medications often provide relief from some emotional PMS symptoms. Medical management must be maintained continuously, and generally involves some undesirable side effects. The lack of successful medical management again augurs well for a biofeedback intervention. The fundamental issue is “disregulation”, for which the remedy is “reregulation”, rather than the more unilateral intervention implied by anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications.
Intervention with EEG biofeedback has been found clinically to be very helpful to individuals suffering from both physical and emotional PMS symptoms. Most of these individuals were referred for specific symptoms which troubled them, rather than for “PMS”. However, these symptoms were related to the menstrual cycle in the classical temporal PMS pattern. Regardless of whether a person was referred for PMS or for specific symptoms, the training of the person revolved to a large degree around the constellation of symptoms associated with PMS.
EEG training for PMS typically requires 20-30 sessions. Our ongoing clinical research program stipulates 24. For those who complete the program of 24 sessions, favorable outcome is achieved by about 90% of women, by the criterion of effective remediation of symptoms (i.e., residual symptoms no longer inhibit activities or impinge adversely on relationships). The benefits are found to be retained for many months to years.
The symptom relief experienced by those who successfully complete the program includes all of the emotional symptoms associated with PMS, and the physical symptoms, including migraines. Some reach the point where they are essentially symptom-free, and do not experience the usual prior notice of the onset of menses. Favorable experience has also been observed with dysmenorrhea, and with such symptoms as excessive bleeding. The data on such phenomena are isolated and anecdotal.