As Nicole* readied herself for work as an R.N. in an intensive care unit, her stomach knotted up like a pretzel. For most, it was just another day on the job. Not for Nicole.
Nicole, 27, had worked for several grueling years as a waitress in order to put herself through nursing school to achieve her dream career. Now that that dream had come true, she was so plagued by anxiety every single day that she was barely able to cross the hospital’s threshold without dissolving into an emotional puddle.
Fortunately she would find her way to Center for Brain and, after just five sessions, feel well enough to discontinue her neurofeedback training. However, it took more than a year of trying pharmaceutical options, psychotherapy and yoga before that happened.
“For over a year, each day that I went to work I had a panic attack,” Nicole explained. “I thought ‘Oh, my god, I can’t do this!’ It was so much responsibility. I had people’s lives in my hands.”
Some days Nicole felt more like she was watching herself go through the motions of her nursing responsibilities than actually experiencing them. Detachment seemed to quell the sting of the unrelenting anxiety.
Nicole’s supervisor and assigned mentor noticed her anxiety but chalked it up to nerves due to being new on the job. Nicole knew otherwise but didn’t offer any resistance to their theory. There was no doubt that being honest about what she was experiencing would jeopardize her career.
At the start of every shift, Nicole attended a meeting with colleagues where they each presented their current cases. The thought of speaking to the group – or any group – threw Nicole into a panic.
In order to cope, Nicole took a Xanax before arriving at the hospital to help her get through the staff meeting and to deal with the heavy responsibilities she knew she’d be facing throughout the rest of the day. She was also on an anti-depressant.
“Xanax helped for immediate relief,” she said. “The antidepressant didn’t help my mood much at all, but regardless, I didn’t want to be taking any type of medication long-term.” Nicole explained, “Medications weren’t getting to the root cause.
“I reached the point where I had to do something. I couldn’t go on like this. I was so anxious I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t miss work, but it was hard to go every day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue to work in my profession if I didn’t get a handle on this problem.”
One day Nicole confided her problem to a friend who told her that she thought neurofeedback could help. Nicole went online to research it and ran across Center for Brain.
Even though she didn’t know much about neurofeedback, she was desperate for a solution and made an appointment for a consultation.
A week after her first session she noticed that she was clearly calmer. Following her third session she felt calm enough to discontinue her medication. After her fifth session she discontinued her neurofeedback training.
“I was doing so well I didn’t think I needed any more training,” she said. “Work had gotten much better. I was able to speak in our daily meeting without feeling panicked. I was thinking much more clearly and had more confidence taking care of my patients. My co-workers noticed, but they just thought it was because I had more experience under my belt.”
“Everyone is super-nice and welcoming at Center for Brain,” said Nicole. “Mike and Carolyn have an amazing energy, and the place has a calm vibe. I would recommend that anyone struggling with anxiety or panic attacks try neurofeedback.”
To keep herself balanced Nicole, who has suffered from mild anxiety all of her life, is still doing yoga and meeting regularly with a therapist.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality