Brain Waves And Our Mental Health
What are Brain Waves?
What involvement do our brain waves have on our mental health, our moods, reactions and interactions?
We have five different types of brain waves; our brains cycle through all five of the brain wave types at various times of the day and night. Imagine an old-school radio; as you cycle through the frequencies, you stop sporadically at a specific station to enjoy a tune or listen to the chat before moving on to the next station. This is similar to how your brain cycles through brain waves.
Healthy and balanced brains cycle through and stop within a particular frequency as we go about certain activities during our day, changing according to what we’re doing and feeling. Each brain state has a purpose and, with it, sets the mood for our emotions and reactions.
The five brain waves are Gamma (fastest), Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta (slowest). Each type of brain wave moves at various speeds. Some are fast, while others are slower. Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second). It is possible for multiple brain waves to occur simultaneously, but there is only ever one dominant brainwave.
Dominant Slower Brain Waves = Slow, Sluggish, Dreamy or Tired.
Dominant Faster Brain Waves = Wired or Hyper-Alert.
Brain waves are significant to our mental health, as irregularities in brain functioning can impact the development of certain conditions. As an example, when certain areas of the brain are over-stimulated, we may experience anxiety, have sleep problems, be more impulsive, or experience more aggression. On the other hand, too little stimulation in the brain has been linked with depression, insomnia and chronic pain. Additionally, if brain rhythms are unstable, you may have panic attacks, experience obsessive compulsions or develop epilepsy.
Brain Waves And The Mental and Physical Health Impacts
You can see why maintaining a healthy brain balance is so important, but how do we go about this when our busy human lives are far from balanced?
Our mental health is no different; a day of increased stress, if balanced with exercise, meditation and relaxation, is not going to upset your brain health too much. However, prolonged and unmanaged stress builds up, causing both mental and physical impacts.
Some impacts include:
Simply put, the connectivity and balance that the body, brain and mind require can be disrupted if we don’t manage our minds properly.
The Purpose Of Each Brain Wave
Gamma Waves (40 – 100 Hz)
Function: Gamma Brain Waves are the fastest brainwaves (high frequency). They simultaneously process information from different brain areas. Gamma brain waves are involved in higher processing tasks as well as cognitive functioning.
Importance: Information processing, learning and memory.
Too much Gamma results in: High Arousal, Anxiety and Stress
Too little Gamma result in: Depression, ADHD, Learning Disabilities
Optimal Gamma result in: Cognition, information processing, perception, learning and REM sleep
Gamma can be increased through: Meditation and DeepWave Brainwave Entrainment
Beta Waves (12 – 40 Hz)
Function: Beta Brain Waves are associated with a heightened state of alertness, critical reasoning
and logic, and normal waking consciousness. However, too much beta waves also result in too much stress.
Too much Beta results in: Adrenaline, Inability to Relax, High Arousal, Anxiety, and Stress.
Too little Beta results in: Daydreaming, depression, ADHD, and poor cognition.
Optimal Beta results in: Memory, conscious focus, and problem-solving.
Beta can be increased through: Energy Drinks, Coffee, Flow and DeepWave Brainwave Entrainment.
Alpha Waves (8 – 12 Hz)
Function: Alpha Brain Waves are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, either while you are daydreaming, in deep relaxation or during light meditation.
Alpha is our Flow State Zone, the frequency between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind.
Too much Alpha results in: Inability to focus, daydreaming, and being too relaxed.
Optimal Alpha results in: Flow State and Relaxation.
Alpha can be increased through: Marijuana, Alcohol, relaxants, some antidepressants and DeepWave Brainwave Entrainment.
Theta Waves (4 – 8 Hz)
Function: Theta Brain Waves occur most in sleep but are also dominant during deep meditation. It helps us improve our creativity, intuition and makes us feel more natural. This is also the Flow State Zone.
Too much Theta results in: Depression, ADHD, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness.
Too little Theta results in: Poor emotional awareness, anxiety and stress.
Optimal Theta results in: Flow State, emotional connection, creativity, intuition, and relaxation.
Theta can be increased through: Depressants and DeepWave Brainwave Entrainment.
Delta Waves (0 – 4 Hz)
Function: Delta Brain Waves are the slowest but loudest brainwaves (low frequency). Delta is experienced in a deep, dreamless sleep and (for those meditation gurus) in profound, spiritual meditation. Delta is most often found in infants and young children. Delta deep sleep is important for the healing process, with links established to deep healing and regeneration.
Too much Delta results in: learning problems, inability to think, severe ADHD.
Too little Delta results in: Poor sleep, inability to revitalise the brain, inability to rejuvenate the body.
Optimal Delta results in: Immune System, restorative sleep / deep sleep, and natural healing.
Delta can be increased through: Depressants, sleep and DeepWave Brainwave Entrainment.
Neuroscientists have recently found a link between an oversupply of gamma waves in the brain and schizophrenia. Gamma waves provoke hyperactivity in areas of the brain, and hallucinations and delusions can result when this hyperactivity is abnormally high. Inadequate sleep has also been recently revealed to be an added factor to symptoms of schizophrenia: Those who have difficulty sleeping due to overabundant gamma waves in the brain may encounter a “triggering” of schizophrenia symptoms.
Investigation into brain waves has also shown that some individuals may be biologically more likely to experience depression. These individuals exhibit a large amount of alpha wave activity in the left frontal areas of their brains. Another condition that is characterised by an excess of lower-frequency brain waves is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, neurofeedback therapy has shown improvement in both of these conditions, along with others.
Neurofeedback is a therapeutic technique used to monitor and change brain wave patterns to improve mental health and modify behaviours. In Neurofeedback therapy, individuals are taught to alter the flow of brain waves. EEG readings are used by a therapist to determine the level of brain waves, assess the predominance of abnormal activity, and then reward the desired brain wave activity to encourage its production. For example, in a person who has depression, the therapist will use visual and sound effects to reward beta waves to help relieve the symptoms of depression.
Injuries that happen to the brain may also play a role. A 2019 study uncovered that people who had experienced trauma to their brain via combat had developed “markedly elevated” levels of gamma waves. Specifically, a mild injury had occurred in two of the four lobes of their cerebral cortex, the prefrontal cortex, and the posterior parietal lobe.