Neurofeedback For The Treatment Of Adult ADHD: Does It Work?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a serious mental health condition that can have far-reaching implications in adulthood. Left unchecked, it can disrupt every aspect of life – from romantic relationships to jobs and coping with life’s ups and downs.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Adult ADHD, you may be thinking “Isn’t this a childhood thing?” The truth is that you probably have had ADHD for many years (since childhood) but are just now getting diagnosed. It’s quite common.
Although there generally are no major significant differences in the symptoms of ADHD between children and adults, most adults are not as hyperactive as children would be.
Adults living with ADHD may feel overwhelmed by their daily struggles but there are steps they can take towards gaining control over the disorder and achieving emotional stability.
If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be wondering what effective treatment options are available.
When it comes to treating ADHD, there are different approaches available depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. These include:
- stimulant medications
- behavioral therapy
- neurofeedback therapy
In this article I will be discussing the neurofeedback treatment option, and looking at whether it is an effective form of ADHD treatment.
What Is Neurofeedback?
If you haven’t yet heard about neurofeedback treatment programs, let me explain what it is.
Neurofeedback, (aka Neurotherapy) is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment that uses real-time brainwave monitoring to help train the brain to improve its functioning and overall performance. It works by teaching your brain how to regulate itself by providing information about how it is currently functioning, as well as feedback on how it is responding to the training in real time.
The idea behind neurofeedback for the treatment of ADHD is that if the brain is taught to self regulate, then symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, impulsivity and hyperactivity can be reduced.
Neurofeedback sessions typically involve the patient wearing electrodes attached to their scalp. These elctrodes measure the brain’s activity.
During the session, the patient watches the computer screen for visual feedback. What they are watching is like a video game but it’s actually what their brainwaves are doing in real time.
There are 3 levels of brain waves:
The reason that therapists look at brain wave activity in the treatment of ADHD is because different types of brain waves represent different levels of thinking. For example, Alpha and Beta waves are associated with alertness while Theta waves are associated with a state of relaxed focus.
ADHD sufferers typically show higher than normal levels of Theta activity in the frontal lobes which is attributed to difficulty concentrating and focusing.
In neurofeedback for ADHD, the goal is to decrease the amount of Theta waves (4-8 Hz) and increase the Alpha and Beta waves. This is done by teaching the patient to control their brainwave activity and to strengthen their concentration. This type of therapy has been proven to help with impulse control, focus, academic performance, planning and more.
Overall, understanding brain waves can provide insight into ADHD symptoms and treatment – as well as an indication of how a person is thinking or feeling.
Brain Function In ADHD
I’m going to get a little technical now just to point out the importance of understanding brain function in ADHD.
Brain function in individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is different from the brain function of people without the disorder.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects cognitive and behavioral development in many individuals. Neuroimaging studies have shown that regions of the brain responsible for attention and executive functions are impaired in those with ADHD.
Specifically, dysfunctions in the prefrontal cortex lead to problems like impulsivity, difficulty concentrating and organizing tasks, lack of inhibition or self-control, and poor working memory.
Additionally, changes in the basal ganglia are responsible for hyperactivity, restlessness, and increased distractibility. Together, these impairments result in difficulties with executive functioning that can cause problems in daily life.
These issues can lead to an imbalance in how dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in reward and motivation, is processed in the brain. In people without ADHD, dopamine is released in anticipation of a reward and then decreases once the reward has been achieved.
However, for those with ADHD, this dopamine release does not occur as strongly.
This can result in an inability to concentrate or focus for long periods of time and difficulty controlling impulses.
What Does A Neurotherapy Session Look Like?
A neurotherapy session (aka eeg biofeedback) typically involves the use of EEG (electroencephalography) technology to measure brainwave activity. This is then used as a basis for providing feedback to the patient in order to help them gain control over their emotional states and behaviors.
During a session, EEG electrodes will be placed on the patient’s head which allow for the monitoring of their brainwave activity. The patient may be asked to perform various activities such as repetitive tasks and listening exercises, in order to assess how their brain responds.
The results of the scan show up on a computer screen and the patient watches this screen in order to gain an understanding of how their brain is functioning. This process helps the patient learn how to better regulate their emotions and behaviors.
…individuals are provided real-time feedback on their brainwave patterns and they are taught to produce and maintain patterns consistent with a focused, attentive state.additudemag.com
The neurotherapist then works with the patient to develop strategies that can help them manage their emotional states or change undesirable behaviors. With practice, these strategies can become part of the patient’s everyday life, helping them feel better, think more clearly and be more successful in their lives.
Neurotherapy sessions may involve specific exercises that target different brain networks. These activities might include biofeedback techniques such as muscle relaxation or breathing regulation, music therapy, cognitive training, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), mindfulness meditation, and other strategies.
The patient’s goals and comfort level are always taken into account, so the activities done in each session will be specifically tailored to their needs.
What Is The Goal Of Neurofeedback?
The goal of neurofeedback is to help individuals gain greater voluntary control over their brain activity. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time monitoring technology and rewards to teach individuals how to alter their neurological patterns, with the aim of improving mental performance and emotional well-being.
Neurofeedback can be used as a preventative and rehabilitative tool for conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) and depression, and can also be used to help athletes improve their focus.
Neurofeedback therapy is based on the principle that conscious awareness of brain functioning combined with positive reinforcement can produce a change in brainwave patterns. Through this process, individuals can learn to regulate their own brain waves, which can lead to improved performance, better emotional regulation and reduction of stress.
How Does Neurotherapy Work To Improve Symptoms Of Adult ADHD?
Neurotherapy is an innovative approach to treating ADHD symptoms. It works by using a combination of brain-wave feedback and visual presentation technology in order to help adjust the neurological patterns associated with ADHD.
In essence, neurotherapy helps provide an understanding of how the brain is working, helping to identify distractions, impulsivity, and hyperactivity common among those with ADHD so that they can be dealt with in an effective manner.
Neurotherapy also allows brain waves to be monitored in real-time for further understanding of the patient’s underlying symptoms and functioning – a method not previously available with traditional forms of therapy.
Through this innovative technique, patients can gain awareness and control which often leads to improvements in concentration, energy levels, restfulness and improved overall functioning. With regular use, neurotherapy has presented positive results for many individuals struggling with symptoms of ADHD!
How Does Brain Mapping Help ADHD?
Brain mapping is a tool used to provide a detailed roadmap of the brain and its functions. It also reveals how well different areas of the brain are communicating with one another. This information can be invaluable when trying to diagnose ADHD and other related disorders.
Brain mapping uses MRI, PET, and EEG scans to analyze the brain activity in different areas of the brain. These scans show how well different parts of the brain are functioning and can reveal underlying issues with ADHD, such as impaired concentration or hyperactivity.
Brain mapping also helps to identify areas of the brain that may be under-active or over-active in people with ADHD. This is very helpful for neurofeedback practitioners.
Armed with the information from the patient’s brain map, the practitioner is then able to literally see what areas of his/her brain are over-working and under-working. This makes it much easier to formulate a plan of action to correct the imbalance.
Brain mapping is also helpful in understanding the progression of ADHD over time and determining whether treatments have been successful in improving symptoms.
Effectiveness Of Neurofeedback For Adults With ADHD
The basic concept behind the use of neurotherapy is that it helps the patient to learn how it feels to be in a certain state of being (i.e. calm, stressed, etc.) It’s literally brain training through the use of biofeedback.
The theoretical basis of neurofeedback is related to the law of effect and learning theories such that rewarding a particular behavior will increase the likelihood of recurrence behavior (Thompson & Thompson, 2003). Operating conditioning process includes behavior modification by which the consequences of an action specify the possibility of the behavior in the future. The abundance of positively reinforced behaviors increases in the future while behaviors that are negatively reinforced will disappear (Gazzaniga, Heatherton, & Veronese, 2003). It seems that the principles of factor conditioning are an important factor in the ability of neurofeedback to make changes in EEG. So, neurofeedback provides continuous information for the person after expressing the desired behavior so that this information will lead to a recurrence of that behavior.Practice in Clinical Psychology
With that in mind, it seems clear that neurotherapy for adults with ADHD has the potential to be a successful treatment option. As research continues to look into the efficacy of this type of therapy, it’s becoming increasingly evident that it can offer significant improvement in focus, concentration, impulsivity, and other areas related to functioning with ADHD.
The studies and clinical trials are suggesting that the structured and goal-oriented nature of neurotherapy can help to improve the quality of life for those affected by this disorder.
Neurofeedback is quickly emerging as an exciting new way to treat ADHD, offering the potential of long-term symptom relief. Recent research has even suggested that just 30 sessions can be as effective in curbing symptoms than stimulants – giving hope to many who struggle with this condition!
Yes, it can be an expensive treatment but the potential of long-term symptom relief can be worth the investment. Additionally, unlike stimulants, there are no long-term side effects associated with neurotherapy – the treatment is considered safe and noninvasive.
More studies need to be conducted in order to learn more about the effectiveness of this treatment for adults with ADHD. But the current results are promising, and it could be a great alternative to other treatments.
How Long Does It Take For Neurotherapy To Work?
Neurotherapy is not an overnight cure-all. Depending on the individual and their condition, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for them to experience the benefits of neurotherapy.
The length of time for improvement will also depend on the severity of your condition and how long it has been going on.
But, on average, it takes 20 – 40 sessions of neurofeedback treatments, each one about 30 to 45 minutes each in order to observe significant changes in the brain’s electrical signals. During this time, patients are asked to practice specific activities that help them shift their cognitive patterns and build new neural pathways.
Neurotherapy can also be combined with other forms of therapy such as cognitive-behavioral or psychotherapy for a more comprehensive
A neurotherapist will review your symptoms and come up with a specific plan to help you reach your goals. This plan may include multiple sessions over an extended period of time, or shorter, more frequent treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but let your neurotherapist know that you are on ADHD medication(s) because the meds may alter the brain waves artifically.
Neurotherapy is safe and non-invasive, so any side effects should be minimal. However, some individuals may experience headaches, dizziness, nausia and fatigue while in the initial stages of therapy as their brain adjusts to the new stimuli. It’s best to talk to your neurotherapist about any potential side effects before starting treatment.
Several studies have shown that Neurotherapy has a positive effects on brain functioning and can help to reduce symptoms of ADHD like impulsiveness, distractibility and hyperactivity in both adults and children. Improvements can be seen as early as six weeks after beginning treatment and may even continue to improve long after neurotherapy has ended.