Efficacy of Alfa EEG wave biofeedback in the management of anxiety

Ind Psychiatry J. 2010 Jul;19(2):111-4. doi: 10.4103/0972-6748.90341.


Background: Biofeedback is a technique in which people are trained to improve their health by learning to control certain internal bodily processes that normally occur involuntarily. Various studies in the past have shown usefulness of Alfa electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback in the alleviation of anxiety symptoms. Though most of the psychiatric centers in the armed forces have this facility, not much work has been done in our setup to assess its efficacy in the management of anxiety. Hence this study was undertaken.

Materials and methods: This study was carried out in a multispecialty Command Hospital by enrolling 100 patients with psychiatric diagnosis from both inpatient and outpatient services. The anxiety level was assessed clinically and by using Hamilton Anxiety Scale and Taylor's Manifest Anxiety Scale. One group of 50 patients was treated with Alfa EEG biofeedback sessions only, 5 times in a week for 8 weeks, along with specific pharmacotherapy. The other group was treated with appropriate dose of anxiolytics. The anxiety level was reassessed after 4 weeks and 8 weeks.

Results: The response was better for mixed anxiety and depressive disorder with pharmacotherapy than with the biofeedback, but female patients showed better response with EEG biofeedback.

Conclusion: In the short term, Alfa EEG biofeedback therapy is almost as efficacious as pharmacological intervention in the management of anxiety symptoms, and relatively more useful in females.

Keywords: Alfa EEG biofeedback; anxiety; pharmacotherapy.