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Anxiety: What is it? What are the causes and symptoms?

We all feel anxious from time to time. However, anxiety can become problematic when you begin to feel anxious in everyday or non-threatening situations. For example, clients may suffer from persistent or extreme symptoms such as uncontrollable worry, intense fear, difficulty concentrating, problems sleeping or edginess.

Typically, anxiety disorders are characterized by both emotional and physical sensations such as palpitations of the heart, feelings of tension, apprehension, or even fear. There are several causes of anxiety including environmental stress, genetics, medical conditions or brain chemistry. Other factors are environmental and life stressors that cause our bodies to become overloaded and overstimulated.


How Does Anxiety Affect My Brain?

Individuals who tend to worry or ruminate excessively about these ongoing environmental and life stressors are often in a state known as hypervigilance. This results in an overactive brain. Chronic increased brain activity results in excessive consumption of oxygen, glucose, and neurotransmitters as well as a host of nutrients. The effect of this appears in PET scans as well as topographic EEG Brain maps. The heightened level of metabolic activity also results in higher levels of fast brain wave activity known as Beta brainwave activity. We call this condition “The Over aroused Brain (Brain too fast)” in contrast to Depression in which the brain is running too slow.

Stimulant-Free Treatment Programs Offered at Zone Health & Performance Psychology

We offer the following treatment therapies to address and manage the symptoms of ADHD to improve attention, learning, and emotional self-regulation.


Counselling Psychology

We offer individual therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults who are experiencing a range of concerns.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a treatment that aims to strengthen self-awareness of the mind-body connection (thoughts, emotions, and body sensations) through experiential, behavioural, and mindfulness interventions.

Audio-Visual Entrainment Therapy

Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) is a drug-free, non-invasive solution to treat anxiety, clinical depression, panic attacks, PTSD, or other mental health conditions.

Neurofeedback Therapy

The theory of neurofeedback is based on a simple concept – When you have information on what your brainwaves are doing, your brain can use that information to change how it works. Neurofeedback is also known as EEG Biofeedback. Neurofeedback is guided exercise for the brain.

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Medication-Free Health & Performance Therapy

Health Insurance Coverage
For Therapeutic Treatments

Zone Health & Performance Psychology offers direct billing. Your therapeutic treatments may be covered by your health insurance plan or employee health benefits. Contact us or your health insurance provider about coverage.

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How Do We Help?

The standard protocol for anxiety is the prescription of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) also know as anti-depressants. Standard anxiety medications work to stimulate the production of serotonin-the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Doctors may prescribe a treatment of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or anti-depressants to people suffering from anxiety. Short term, these meds are effective for helping clients feel better, but they don’t correct the underlying cause of anxiety. Also, there is a risk that these medications may impact brainwave patterns in the long run, which can lead to even more symptoms of anxiety. Zone Health & Performance Psychology provides cutting edge evidence-based anxiety treatments with comprehensive assessments and personalized treatment plans for everyone. Your background, family history, current support system, co-occurring issues, trauma, baseline functioning all must be taken into consideration to provide a customized and comprehensive treatment plan for you. No two people are affected by anxiety in the same way, neither is there a “one size fits all” treatment to those who suffer from anxiety. Our personalized program offers a variety of solutions that can assist in the following ways:

  1. Neurofeedback
  2. Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)
  3. Breathwork
  4. Counselling
  5. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
  6. Acceptance Commitment Therapy

Neurofeedback Therapy

Zone Health & Performance Psychology has been working with clients suffering from anxiety, panic disorder and trauma for over 15 years with Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback, is a guided exercise for the brain that is shown to help normalize brainwaves. It is a learning modality designed to retrain abnormal brainwave patterns using a system of audio and visual feedback. Neurofeedback is safe, long-lasting and has no side effects. With neurofeedback the goal is to train the brain to slow down and operate in a more optimal zone of functioning. As the brain practices being in this more efficient zone of operation it begins to grow networks that help it regulate itself better when it is not practicing in the clinic.
Biofeedback Theraphy Patient Being Tested

Over time this new zone of operation becomes the default or normal zone of operation. The symptoms of anxiety progressively dissipate as the individual trains and the brain normalizes functions. Neurofeedback is a very effective treatment for anxiety disorders because it corrects the root causes in the brain. We offer two types of Neurofeedback Therapy to address the symptoms of anxiety. We have also found the following therapies are highly effective when they are simultaneously applied with Neurofeedback Therapy. This multi-modality approach to treating clinical anxiety is both effective and comprehensive in terms of speeding up the process of recovery and reducing the possibility of future relapse.


Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)

Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) is a technique that uses pulses of light and sound at specific frequencies to guide the brain gently and safely into various brainwave patterns. AVE affects many aspects of the brain and mind:

  1. Guides the brain into different brainwave activity patterns (frequency)
  2. Dissociates the mind – similar to meditation
  3. Calms the autonomic system (breaks the HPA axis)
  4. Increases cerebral blood flow, lactate and anaerobic ATP
  5. Balances neurotransmitters
  6. Excites neurons and glia
  7. Increases Heat Shock Protein 70
  8. Activates specific cytokines


As listed above, several things occur when you use Audio-Visual Entrainment on a daily basis to address your anxiety:

First, your EEG activity is altered. As the AVE frequency changes, so does the frequency in the brain; it is that easy! For example, the Feeling Better sessions re-stabilize brainwaves by suppressing left frontal alpha while boosting right frontal alpha to normal levels.

Second, you are being dissociated. When using AVE, you get drawn into the present moment and let go of thoughts related to your daily hassles, hectic schedules, paying bills, worries, threats, or anxieties, and you stop the unhealthy mental “chatter.” Dissociation involves a “disconnection” of self from thoughts and body awareness, as is experienced during deep meditation. Dissociation begins in 4 – 8 minutes from properly applied AVE.

Third, your limbic system stabilizes. Your body calms, your breathing becomes rhythmic, your hands warm, and your muscles relax.

Fourth, a number of neurotransmitters are being produced. People with depressed mood have low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. AVE boosts brain levels of serotonin and norepinephrine to improve overall well-being.

Finally, your cerebral blood flow (CBF) increases. CBF is associated with many forms of mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, attentional problems, behavior disorders, and impaired cognitive function. CBF tends to lower as we age, often causing cognitive decline. People experiencing depressed mood usually have lower levels of CBF in the left frontal and prefrontal lobes.
In partnership with Mind Alive Edmonton, we can select a portable hand-held AVE device for you and customize the protocols and glasses so that you can reduce stress and achieve deep levels of relaxation anytime, anywhere.

Anxiety Symptoms & Treatment Options Edmonton Psychology Clinic

What is Breathwork Therapy?

Breathwork describes a group of exercises that teach you to manipulate your breathing rate and depth with the goal of bringing awareness to your breath and ultimately providing the same benefits you might get from a meditative practice. Clients will be taught a wide variety of different breathing techniques, programs and exercises. Most formal practices involve 20 minutes to an hour of sustained, rhythmic breathing techniques.

Why is Breathwork Therapy so beneficial with regards to those who suffer from anxiety?

When we engage in deep and rhythmic breathing, we activate the Vagus nerve, turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, and put the brakes on anxiety and stress. As our physiology returns to its inherent state, our mind calms, our heart opens, and we remember the wholeness and truth of who we are.

With the aid of Apps, guided practices, and technological devices such as Oxygen Advantage Sports Mask, Heart Math’s Emwave Pro, and Thought Technology’s eVu-TPS clients will learn how to self-regulate their nervous system at the convenience of their home so that they can improve the 3 pillars of their Functional breathing:

  1. The mechanics of breathing (diaphragm function)
  2. The biochemistry (exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide)
  3. The cadence (the speed and rhythm of their breath)


The physiological benefits of slow breathing with regards to restoring and enhancing one’s health have been well-documented in the literature. Clients participating in our breathwork program have experienced the following gains and experiences:

  1. Improve Mood and Reduce Stress, anxiety and grief, depression and anger
  2. Increase Energy Levels and Boost their Immune System
  3. Increase Self-awareness, presence, happiness and Joy
  4. Increase Self-Love
  5. Improve Sleep
  6. Release Trauma and Fear Stuck in the body
  7. Help Reduce Chronic Pain
  8. Release Toxins from the Body
  9. Improve Digestion
  10. Explore Altered States of Consciousness, Consciously
  11. Lower cortisol and blood pressure levels
  12. Improved focus-being more in the present moment
  13. Overcome addictions
  14. Release negative thoughts
  15. Develop Life skills


Breathwork is a powerful way to access your body’s innate intelligence to heal itself. Breathwork, the conscious awareness of your breath, is a practice that is thousands of years old, and while there are many variations, styles and names, all types of breathwork offer the chance for personal transformation through improved mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.



Neurofeedback Therapy is often the first strategy used at Zone Health & Performance Psychology because it takes advantage of the brain’s ability to change itself. Resistance to change is often a major stumbling block in Counselling and Neurofeedback can be an excellent tool to assist a person of any age to make changes in behavior and thinking patterns more easily. The decision to do a combination of Neurofeedback and Counselling is based on the information shared by the client during the assessment process. The goals of Counselling and Neurofeedback are often to reduce stress, improve focus, memory and decision making, increase productivity and emotional resistance, enhance restorative sleep and strengthen positive interpersonal relationships. We see both services as complementary modalities. Because each client is unique, individual circumstances are always the driving factor in determining the most appropriate services.

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Non-Pharmaceutical Therapy

Quantitative Electroencephalography

We start by using advanced qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalography) technology that precisely measures your unique brainwave activity. It is performed to investigate brain wave patterns associated with concentration and attention.

The assessment usually takes between 3-4 hours and consists of:

  1. Interview and history. Review of previous assessments if any.
  2. A series of questionnaires and behavior checklists.
  3. Cognitive Performance/Perceptual Assessments.
  4. Psycho-Educational/Executive Assessments.
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Cambridge Brain Sciences Neurological Assessments

Cognitive Assessments With Cambridge Brain Sciences

Zone Health & Performance Psychology is proud to partner with Cambridge Brain Sciences. They are a leading provider of cognitive assessment tools for clinicians and medical practices, providing scientifically-validated cognitive tasks that produce objective measures across multiple cognitive domains.

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Cognitive Assessments

A series of Cognitive Performance tests that provide objective and quantifiable measures of:

  1. Attention: Visual and Auditory, selective attention, vigilance, memory and verbal working memory.
  2. Executive Functioning: Figural Fluency, interference, cognitive flexibility, response inhibition and task switching.
  3. Visual Information Processing and Mental Processing Speed.
Cognitive Assessments Psychology

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What Our Clients Say

Five Star Google Review

John Stevenson is one of the most passionate and dedicated professionals I’ve ever met. He provided me with a new perspective and insight with regards to chronic pain and anxiety. He has a genuine desire to help others realize their maximum potential. I would highly recommend John and his team of professional staff to anyone.

Five Star Google Review

I would highly recommend everyone at Zone. They are absolutely amazing and caring. They customize a plan to fit you individually, follow up on progress and keep you posted consistently. This is hands down the best place for neurofeedback ! Very happy with the results and I appreciate every single employee at Zone, including John who provides excellent patient care.

Five Star Google Review

I want to share my experiences at Zone Health & Performance wIth John Stevenson. I had a stroke and my speech was irreversible damaged so I had to remap my brain for my speech again. I worked with John and his staff diligently 3X a week for over a year! It was hard work but it also was fun.My speech has improved so much that when I meet someone that don’t know that after my stroke I couldn’t even put a sentence together! I would highly recommend Zone Health & Performance it…improved my life!

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Why Should You Choose Zone?

One of the things that makes us unique at Zone Health & Performance Psychology is that we combine these types of Talk Therapies with Neurofeedback/Biofeedback to optimize the nervous system. Our clients learn a variety of Mindfulness-based/Biofeedback tools and strategies to stabilize their mind while simultaneously optimizing their internal physiology and overall health. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Zone Health and Performance will provide permanent and natural alternative solutions for those who are seeking non-pharmaceutical options to their health and well-being.