Robert suffered anxiety and depression growing up. He was plagued by negative thoughts, overthinking and panic attacks. He had trouble expressing how he was feeling, and his doctor couldn’t offer any concrete help other than medication.
His doctor deemed his problem “anxiety” and wanted to put him on medication for it. He tried several medications, but they didn’t help.
When COVID-19 hit, his symptoms worsened. He withdrew from college and from life. He spent four months barely leaving his bedroom. The thought of going out of his room triggered panic attacks, some of which lasted as long as three hours. He felt agitated. He overthought “everything,” which in turn triggered more panic attacks.
Then Robert learned about neurofeedback from a friend, whose mother made an appointment for him to visit the Center for Brain Training. He began neurofeedback training twice a week and did so for several months.
Improvements weren’t instantaneous but rather occurred over time. He noticed he was thinking less negatively and having fewer instances of panic. He gained enough confidence to not only leave his bedroom but to take a job out of state. At the time of the interview, Robert was back in Florida, pursuing his career dream in the audio-visual field and having no problems with panic.
He occasionally comes by the Center for Brain Training for a “tune-up” neurofeedback session but hasn’t had a panic attack in over a year.
Robert* suffered with anxiety and depression as a child and teenager. He was troubled by negative thoughts and overthinking. He had difficulty expressing what he was experiencing, and his doctors and therapists offered no concrete help other than medication and talk therapy.
By the time Robert had entered his second year of college, he was experiencing panic attacks regularly, some lasting as long as three hours. They got so bad that he stopped leaving his house. In fact, he barely even left his bedroom.
Robert knew that he was emotionally paralyzed and feared for his present and his future. He also knew he had to do something. When a friend told him about neurofeedback at the Center for Brain Training, he decided to give it a try. Within a few months his life drastically turned around.
No one could help—including his doctors
As a teenager Robert saw a variety of doctors to try to figure out what was wrong. He was depressed. He was anxious. He suffered frequent panic attacks. No one, including him, understood what was happening.
“I felt really weird, like I was on drugs all the time,” he explained. “I didn’t know what the problem was, and nobody could tell me what the problem was. The doctors said, oh, it’s just anxiety, and they kept wanting to put me on more medication, more medication, more medication. I tried different ones, but they didn’t help at all.”
He seldom left his bedroom
By the time he entered college Robert, now 21, was avoiding friends and social activities and struggling to make to his college classes. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, he retreated to his bedroom and seldom came out. He spent all day ruminating, worrying and enduring frequent bouts of panic.
“It was to the point where my brain was so agitated that even the thought of walking downstairs would give me a panic attack,” he said. “It was like my brain was an engine running at full RPMs without me doing anything. And then when I tried to do something, it would just blow the engine up.
“It was crippling. I barely left my bedroom for three or four months because I couldn’t function as a normal human being. I couldn’t do normal stuff like go to work or go out and see people. I missed some of my classes. I was running out of options.”
Desperation led to trying neurofeedback
After several devastating months Robert shared his private torment with his friend from church, Ashley*. Ashley told him that she had suffered similar problems and had experienced significant improvement after doing neurofeedback at the Center for Brain Training.
Willing—and desperate—to try anything, he made an appointment and began doing neurofeedback training twice weekly.
He and Mike Cohen worked collaboratively to tweak the training until it was fine-tuned. He had a brain map (qEEG) done, which identified some problem areas in his brain. Their collaboration led to some answers Robert hadn’t been able to get from anyone else.
“The map showed that I had a lot of sensory and visual processing problems,” Robert said.
“That’s why I was feeling ‘floaty’ all the time—feeling weird—and why my brain was agitated and did so much overthinking. I finally had an answer to what was wrong!
“I would tell Mike, ‘Hey, I’m feeling this,’ and he’d say, ‘That’s because this part of your brain is doing this, this and this.’ He could explain to me what none of the doctors could. He also gave me resources like podcasts to listen to and suggested some vitamins that could help.”
Improvements were slow—but they happened
Improvements, however, didn’t happen overnight. It took a hearty dose of persistence and patience.
“It wasn’t like a switch,” Robert remembered. “It was a process that took three or four months before I saw all the benefits.
“It was more like a slow realization over time that my thoughts weren’t so negative, and I wasn’t obsessing as much or having panic as often. Little by little I was able to start doing things again.
“I could have given up, but I just stuck with it while Mike and I experimented with different things. I knew the benefits would happen eventually,” Robert continued.
And they did.
Free at last from panic attacks, life began anew
Gradually Robert’s panic attacks occurred less frequently and were less severe. Then they stopped altogether. He hadn’t had one in a year at the time this story was written.
“Doing neurofeedback changed my life dramatically,” Robert explained.
“One of the first things I did once I got better was, I took a job in Ohio, to be a production director at a church. That was really cool. I could do things again. I went from being in my room for four months to moving out of state. That showed me that I could handle life—that I could work and have a social life and not overthink stuff and not have panic attacks.”
Robert eventually returned to Florida and got a job as a sound technician at a church. He still comes to the Center for Brain Training on occasion for tune-up sessions.
“My experience at the Center for Brain Training was amazing,” he said. “And the staff is great. They have taken such good care of me. I love them like family.”
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.