How Neurofeedback Can Help with ADHD
Living with ADHD can be very challenging as this mental health condition can and often does impact various aspects of life, including interpersonal relationships, academic and work performance, and daily functioning. Individuals with ADHD may struggle with maintaining focus and attention, managing their impulsivity, and organizing tasks effectively. However, with the right support and treatment, these individuals can develop strategies and overcome their challenges and lead a fulfilling life.
Traditional Treatments for ADHD
Once a diagnosis of ADHD has been made, there are a variety of treatment options. Most mental health therapists recommend using a holistic approach, meaning using a mix of treatments such as medication, lifestyle changes, and psychotherapy.
When it comes to psychotherapy, the recommended approach has typically been using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a commonly used approach because it makes a connection between the person's thoughts, feelings and actions. This can help the individual regulate their emotions and behaviors and control some of their ADHD symptoms.
What Is Neurofeedback Therapy?
While CBT can be effective, not all people with ADHD may benefit. Luckily there are new approaches, and neurofeedback is a very promising one. Other used names for neurofeedback therapy are biofeedback and neurotherapy.
Neurofeedback therapy is a form of biofeedback, meaning it helps make a connection between the mind and body. Neurofeedback is powerful because it can help those with ADHD control the way their mind works by providing direct feedback to their brain.
This is done by using positive sounds or visuals to encourage the brain's good performances, and using negative sounds or visuals to discourage inefficient brain activity.
How Does it Work Exactly?
In people with ADHD, the brain may show specific behavioural patterns, especially in the frontal lobe which is the area that's responsible for personality, behaviour, and learning. Changes in the mind and behaviour can impact the brain, and changes in the brain can influence the behaviour and the mind.
Neurofeedback modifies behaviour by making changes in the brain. The brain generates electrical signals called waves, and these waves can be measured.
During a neurofeedback session, a trained professional measures the person’s brain waves and their frequencies using an electroencephalograph (EEG) while delivering neurofeedback.
The brain waves that are usually impacted in those with ADHD are theta and beta waves. Neurofeedback works by leveling out these brainwaves, which in turn decreases ADHD symptoms.
What to Expect?
During the first session, the practitioner will ask questions about the person's symptoms, treatment history, and lifestyle. This will help with tracking improvements along the way, and the person will continue to give updates on their symptoms before each session.
Before sessions, the practitioner will attach electrodes to the person's head to measure their brain activity. The electrodes are painless and don't deliver electrical currents. During the sessions, the person will be working on specific tasks like playing video games or listening to music and sounds, to influence their brain waves. The EEG can pick up how the stimuli are influencing the brain activity.
Changes in the brain activity can be seen from session to session, and neurofeedback aims to gradually modify brain waves, leading to improvements in behaviour and ADHD symptoms.
How Many Sessions are Needed?
Recent research has shown that as little as 30 sessions can be more effective than commonly prescribed stimulants. In fact, some people no longer need their ADHD medication after consecutive treatments.
If you are interested in exploring neurofeedback as an ADHD treatment, speak with your medical provider.