Does Neurofeedback Work For ADHD?
July 24, 2019
If you’ve never heard of neurofeedback, you’re not alone. Even though neurofeedback has been around for decades and has been used by organizations like NASA and professional sports teams, many people haven’t heard of it until recently. This shift is thanks to modern advances in science and technology helping neurofeedback become more widely accessible to the public. Now, neurofeedback is being used to help reduce symptoms of many conditions, including ADHD.
What is Neurofeedback?
For starters, neurofeedback is a subset of biofeedback. Biofeedback is a broad term for learning to control some of your bodily functions through real-time feedback. It’s like learning to slow down your breaths-per-minute by watching your breathing rate on a screen.
Neurofeedback is biofeedback that’s specifically targeted to your brain. It oftentimes uses an EEG machine and is sometimes referred to as EEG biofeedback. While there are several different forms of neurofeedback, the most common form involves training the brain’s electrical waves.
We all have naturally-occurring electricity in our brains all the time. These waves range from slow (delta) to fast (beta) and can have an impact on how we feel. For example, too many slow waves occurring during the day could be contributing to focus issues. Too many fast-moving waves could play a role in anxiety.
Frequently, neurofeedback begins with brain mapping. This is done by attaching sensors to the scalp to get a real-time reading of your brain. This shows how and where these waves are occurring in the brain. Neurofeedback then is the process of training these waves to operate differently, leading to more optimal brain function.
Neurofeedback for ADD/ADHD
While ADHD diagnosis requires meeting certain criteria set by standardized behavioral checklists, these checklists can leave room for subjectivity. This subjectivity can even blur the lines between symptoms of different conditions. For example, sleep issues mixed with anxiety could cause a person to feel unfocused yet on high-alert, possibly confusing these symptoms for ADHD. That being said, a person with ADHD may also be experiencing sleep issues and anxiety but not recognize it.
An added bonus of brain mapping is being able to see more objectively the source of certain symptoms. People with ADHD have brain maps that tend to show an excess of slow-moving theta waves, coupled with a deficit in sensory motor rhythm.
Research has suggested neurofeedback training may be a way to treat ADHD, by restoring balance to these areas in the brain. Some studies have even claimed that neurofeedback may be as effective as medication.
Additionally, a recent meta-analysis compared active neurofeedback training among children with ADHD to a non-active control treatment. The study found that neurofeedback training noticeably reduced ADHD symptoms, and had lasting effects when the participants were re-tested six months later.
Side effects of Neurofeedback
Many people are drawn to neurofeedback as a way to treat their ADHD because there are virtually no negative side effects. Some people will report feeling slightly tired after a 30-mintue brain-training session, but there aren’t long-term negative side effects caused by neurofeedback.
Keep in Mind
There are a few things to consider before trying neurofeedback for ADHD:
Reputable Providers – While people can claim to be trained in neurofeedback, many may not be certified through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA). Some may not follow industry best practices or be administered by someone who is properly trained in neurofeedback. Be sure to search for a reputable provider.
Time – Proper training can take some time. Many providers recommend around 30 brain training sessions spread out over no more than three months. While some people may see improvements after just a few sessions, most people take longer.
Insurance – Because individual plans can vary, neurofeedback may or may not be covered by your insurance. You can always call your insurance company and ask if biofeedback or neurofeedback is covered under your plan.
Medication – You are not required to alter your medication when going through neurofeedback training. Some people do choose to reduce their dosages as their symptoms improve, but changes in medication should always be discussed with your doctor first.
If you’d like to learn more about Neurocore’s neurofeedback program, give us a call at 800.600.4096.