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How Can Neurofeedback Help Individuals with ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a neurological disorder affecting children and adults. In recent years, it has become a household name as many people recognize the signs and symptoms of living with ADHD or living with someone who has ADHD symptoms.

ADHD can make it harder to focus, listen well, wait, or take your time. The hallmark symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

It is estimated that 5-10% of children have ADHD, while up to 4% of adults are affected. ADHD can significantly impact daily life, including difficulty with school, work, and social interactions. Many adults report being extremely forgetful, distracted, and struggling intensely with time management.

While various treatment options are available for ADHD, one that has gained popularity in recent years is Neurofeedback. In this blog post, we will explore what ADHD is, its impact on daily life, and how Neurofeedback can benefit those with ADHD.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to focus, control their impulses, and regulate their behavior. It is categorized into three subtypes: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined.

Inattentive ADHD

Inattentive ADHD is characterized by difficulty paying attention, forgetfulness, and frequently losing or misplacing items. The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted.

  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork.

  • appearing forgetful or losing things.

  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming.

  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions.

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is characterized by constant movement, fidgeting, and difficulty waiting for their turn. The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings.

  • constantly fidgeting.

  • being unable to concentrate on tasks.

  • excessive physical movement.

  • excessive talking.

  • being unable to wait their turn.

  • acting without thinking.

  • interrupting conversations.

  • not being able to sleep, get to sleep or stay asleep.

  • irritability caused by impatience of others when one does not get their way.

  • inability to relax their body and/or calm their thoughts.

Combined ADHD is a mixture of the two subtypes.

The main signs of a combination are:

  • Difficulty focusing on tasks.

  • Hyperfocus on certain other tasks.

  • Irritability, which plays itself out from feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated.

  • Difficulty regulating emotions as a result of not being able to regulate a state of calmness.

  • Inability to get enough sleep or to stay asleep due to the body's inability to relax completely.

  • Inability to follow through with instructions and complete tasks.

  • Getting distracted by unrelated thoughts.

  • Making careless mistakes and overlooking important details.

  • Difficulty listening when spoken to.

  • Unable to organize tasks and manage time.

ADHD can significantly impact daily life, particularly in academic and occupational settings. Children with ADHD may have difficulty completing tasks, following instructions, or staying on task during class. Adults with ADHD often struggle with procrastination, time management, and completing tasks on time.

Additionally, ADHD can have a negative impact on social interactions, as individuals with ADHD may have difficulty regulating their emotions or acting impulsively.

Due to one's lack of attention to what people say, others are often repeating themselves or feeling as though the person is deliberating, acting out and therefore feeling disrespected by the person with ADHD. The person with ADHD is also often impatient with others and will therefore act out their irritability onto others when things are not done quickly enough to satisfy the impulsive needs of the individual.

Traditional Treatment for ADHD

ADHD typically involves medication and/or behavioral therapy. Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall, are often prescribed to help individuals with ADHD focus and regulate their behavior. While these medications can be effective, they can also have side effects, such as insomnia, decreased appetite, and irritability. When using medications to treat children and adolescents with ADHD, it is essential to regulate the dosage; studies have shown that people who misuse high doses of Ritalin daily can become paranoid or hallucinate. It can also be challenging to insert medication into a busy morning routine.

Behavioral therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can also benefit individuals with ADHD. CBT can help individuals learn coping strategies, such as task planning and time management, to manage their symptoms. Although this method has significant benefits, it can cause more stress on individuals struggling to obtain information and follow a daily schedule. Additionally, behavioral therapy can help individuals improve their social skills and learn to manage their emotions.

CBT uses many techniques to aid children and adults with ADHD, such as planning and scheduling activities, cognitive restructuring, guided discovery, positive self-talk, distractibility delay, and successive approximation.

The Benefits of Neurofeedback for ADHD

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that involves monitoring brainwaves and providing real-time feedback to individuals.

Biofeedback EEG is the process of learning how to change your physiological activity using real-time monitoring of biological data like breathing rates, muscle activity, and heart function.

Practitioners nationwide use Neurofeedback to treat conditions like ADHD, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, and more. It is a symptom based treatment.

The goal of Neurofeedback is to help individuals learn to regulate their brainwaves, which can, in turn, reduce symptoms of ADHD. Neurofeedback can result in:

  • improved attention.

  • diminished hyperactivity.

  • enhanced executive functions.

  • decrease emotional reactivity.

This type of therapy is non-invasive and does not involve medication, making it an appealing alternative for individuals with ADHD who prefer a non-pharmacological treatment approach.

How Is Neurofeedback Done?

Neurofeedback can be done in increments of 30 minutes to an hour. It is administered to one client at a time with a professional in the room.

Typically, it involves placing electrodes, scalp sensors, on the scalp, which are then connected to a computer that displays the individual's brain activity in real time. The individual is then asked to perform a task, such as focusing on a computer game, a movie, or a visual cue, while the computer displays their brainwave activity.

The therapist provides feedback to the individual on their brainwave activity, which helps them learn how to regulate their brainwave patterns more effectively. The recommended neurofeedback sessions depend on each person's individualized goals and timeframe.

Neurofeedback is a short-term treatment program with long-term effects. It requires 25-30 sessions for the brain to consolidate its learning. For the best effects, sessions must be held regularly, at least twice weekly in the beginning states.

The Research about Neurofeedback

Many Ph.D. clinicians have discovered and shared clinical evidence for the Neurofeedback technique to be beneficial for treating ADHD.

It's been proven that Neurofeedback can be effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD.

In a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers found that Neurofeedback was effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD in children.

In another study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, researchers found that Neurofeedback significantly reduced symptoms of ADHD in adults.

Additionally, research has suggested that the benefits of Neurofeedback can be long-lasting, with some individuals experiencing continued improvement even after the completion of therapy.

An article published in the New York Times presenting criticisms validated the safety and compared the cost to match or even be less than traditional talk therapy.

Although there are those who will say that there is not sufficient evidence to prove the effectiveness of Neurofeedback on someone with ADHD, these same individuals will recommend medication instead.

In spite of the many side effects to these medications, they will continue to back up these more traditional treatments to Neurofeedback.

Of course, by choosing Neurofeedback, one can ultimately rid themselves of the medication they had been taking or significantly reduce their medication dosage, making it unnecessary and thus invalidating the very professionals who back up medication as one of the most effective treatments to date.

The Benefits of Neurofeedback over Traditional Treatment

There are several benefits of Neurofeedback over traditional treatment options for ADHD. First, Neurofeedback is non-invasive and does not involve medication, which can appeal to individuals who prefer a non-pharmacological approach. Additionally, Neurofeedback can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual, as the therapy is personalized based on the individual's brainwave activity.

Even though many people have ADHD, it presents itself differently, and each handles the symptoms differently. This makes it a more individualized treatment approach than medication, typically prescribed based on standardized dosages. Another benefit of Neurofeedback is that it can address the underlying neurological issues contributing to ADHD symptoms.

Traditional treatment options, such as medication and behavioral therapy, can help individuals manage their symptoms but do not address the root neurological causes of ADHD. It's a great temporary solution. However, Neurofeedback targets ADHD at the source. Neurofeedback can help individuals learn to regulate their brainwave patterns, improving their overall neurological functioning.

ADHD can significantly impact daily life, and traditional treatment options such as medication and behavioral therapy may not suit everyone. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment approach that is effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD in children and adults. It is a personalized approach to treatment that addresses the underlying neurological issues contributing to ADHD symptoms.

While additional research is needed to understand the benefits of Neurofeedback for ADHD fully, as in all developing treatments, it is a promising non-pharmacological treatment option that should be considered. Interested in getting more information, want to see if your insurance covers it, or if you are ready to sign up for your first session, contact Neurofeedback and Counseling Center in Harrisburg, PA.

Contact Us for questions or to set up your initial session. We're here to help!

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