Can Neurofeedback help with Anger?
There are many studies demonstrating that Neurofeedback can improve our impulsivity, which can be a factor in uncontrolled anger, including the large body of research on ADHD.
One study (Hammond, D. C. (2010). LENS Neurofeedback Treatment of Anger: Preliminary Reports. Journal of Neurotherapy, 14(2), 162-169) describes two case reports with significant traumatic brain injuries and histories of chronic anger and violent behavior. The results support the potential of Neurofeedback to produce significant improvements in anger control, which has implications with many diagnoses, including traumatic brain injury, juvenile and adult correctional populations, and domestic violence.
In another study, 46 participants were trained. The results suggest that Neurofeedback training can significantly improve anger control and reduce angry outbursts. The authors of this study noticed that the success rate is substantially higher than previously published studies using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or anticonvulsant therapy: Walker, J.E. (2013) QEEG-guided Neurofeedback for anger/anger control disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy. 17(1) 88-92.
What is Anger?
Like anxiety, anger is a natural and normal feeling, best described as an uncomfortable feeling, accompanied by muscle tension and an emotional response. Someone can feel angry when he or she (or someone close to them) feels threatened, offended, denied or when provoked or treated unfairly. Some describe anger as motivating signal that ‘action needs to be taken’ or ‘a problem need to be solved’.
Symptoms of Anger
Anger problems are as common and serious as depression and anxiety, but people don’t often see it as a problem or don’t realize there are possibilities to treat it. It is important though, to recognize associated symptoms of (uncontrolled) anger at an early stage before it causes more severe physical and mental consequences to the person him- or herself and other people.
Associated symptoms of Anger
- Feeling anger or rage
- Irritable at the slightest thing, on edge
- Negative thoughts (e.g. others seem unfair, everything is a big problem)
- Shouting and arguing
- Throw things, attack someone
- Difficulties concentrating, restless
- Feeling hot and sweaty
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Tight chest, palpitations, heart attack
- Problems with digestion
- Colds, flu
Treatment for Anger
Because of the negative impact anger can have on someone’s life and that of others is it important to start treating (uncontrollable) anger in an early stage. Treatment options for anger generally consist of group or individual anger management courses, counseling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The main goal of these options is to resolve anger issues and to learn to manage anger. Medication rarely is prescribed to treat anger, but sometimes is recommended to address coexisting mental conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
Anger and Neurofeedback
With Neurofeedback anger is approached in a different way. Instead of trying to manage anger, Neurofeedback training can help changing the feelings of anger. By stabilising and calming certain areas of the brain that are deregulated – the reason why uncontrolled anger occurs – impulse control will increase, while emotional reactivity (anger, rage irritability), muscle tension and negative thoughts decrease.