Health and behavioral procedures are used in order to regulate the autonomic nervous system and ease POTS and dysautonomia symptoms.
Treating POTS using biofeedback helps the patient “see” how their body responds to certain modifications. Treatment is administered by placing sensors (listening devices) on the surface of the patient’s skin. These sensors are connected to electronic instruments and record a patient’s biological information that is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. These physiological processes are displayed on a computer screen in front of the patient and he/she is able to monitor them constantly. Thus, patients go through step-by-step sessions whereby they are able to make the necessary adjustments to regulate their blood flow, muscle tension, stress, anxiety, blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate while actually looking at all these autonomic functions. As the patients make small gains towards having a normally functioning ANS, they receive auditory and visual positive reinforcements from the screen. The brain wants to continue receiving this rewarding feedback and makes the appropriate changes within the body, thus the brain is being trained to regulate the ANS. Eventually, the process becomes permanent and second nature to keep the ANS functioning normally, just like setting an automatic thermostat in our homes. There are no side effects or pain involved, and the sessions are very relaxing and rejuvenating every time.
Heart Rate Training
Usually patients that have POTS or other forms of dysautonomia experience issues with heart rate regulation. Their heart rate increases by 30 beats per minute or more when changing positions (e.g., sitting-to-standing) and/or their heart rate has been inconsistent and erratic even when resting or in a reclined position. It is possible to train the heart rate. Our providers train the patients how to regulate their heart rate with clinic equipment. When patients are able to manage their heart rate, they are able to start regulating their autonomic nervous system. They are also able to visually see when they move from sympathetic activity to parasympathetic activity. By training the brain how to control the heart rate in different positions, patients are able to manage their tachycardia due to Orthostatic Intolerance.
Nutrition & Exercise
Nutrition and exercise is also a focus of this program. It has been shown that exercise can significantly reduce symptoms in POTS patients. After the patients have mastered regulating their autonomic nervous system reclined, they will then begin to exercise while regulating the ANS. This is how exercise intolerance is addressed. Patients start out with a low intensity exercise plan. In addition, our staff creates a nutrition plan for each patient. Supplements may also be recommended depending on specific symptoms that the patient may be experiencing.
Counseling is offered at The POTS and Dysautonomia Treatment Center™ if needed. When patients suffer with a medical condition for a long period of time, anxiety and depression commonly result. Ongoing adrenaline release is a symptom of POTS and Dysautonomia, and this can also create anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is mainly used. CBT is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that is different from traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy in that the therapist and the patient will actively work together to help the patient. Some POTS patients can benefit from this type of therapy, as they work directly to manage stress related to school, family, work, etc. Mindfulness techniques and Rapid Resolution Therapy are also available upon request.