Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that is commonly diagnosed in children and can persist into adulthood. This disorder affects one’s ability to focus, concentrate, and control impulsive behaviors, thus causing difficulties in everyday life. Those with ADHD may also struggle with organization and have difficulty completing tasks.
There are a variety of reliable treatment options available today for ADHD symptoms, including traditional treatments like prescription medication and therapy, and emerging alternative therapies, like neurofeedback training. In this article, we will focus on the potential benefits you stand to gain from neurofeedback if you struggle with ADHD symptoms.
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What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is an innovative approach to treating ADHD that is gaining popularity among patients and clinicians alike. This therapy is a form of science-backed brain training that teaches individuals to self-regulate their brain waves by providing real-time feedback.
Neurofeedback works by providing feedback to the patient and their clinician in real time, which reinforces certain responses and creates new neural pathways in the brain. The goal of neurofeedback is for patients to learn how to gain better control of their brain wave patterns through operant conditioning, which helps promote efficient information processing, improved attention, better focus, stronger memory recall, and greater control over impulses.
During neurofeedback training sessions, patients sit comfortably while sensors are attached to the scalp. They then engage in a mental activity and the sensors transmit real-time data to the clinician’s computer, which analyzes the brain activity and compares it against data of individuals without ADHD. The clinician then provides guidance and feedback to the patient to support the reduction of their ADHD symptoms. The process is painless and non-invasive, and patients are often amazed at their improved ability to control their thought patterns after receiving treatment.
Neurofeedback training has been shown to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms, including impulsivity, attention span, concentration, and cognitive functioning. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of neurofeedback therapy in treating ADHD. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Neurotherapy showed that neurofeedback training is as effective as medication in treating the core symptoms of ADHD.
How Brain Activity Relates to ADHD Symptoms
Neurofeedback has been shown to be effective at treating many mental health conditions because it addresses the underlying causes of the symptoms rather than just masking them. Believe it or not, many of the symptoms of ADHD can be linked to certain brain wave activities and patterns. Let’s explore the link between brain wave activity and ADHD symptoms and discuss how neurofeedback training can benefit those with this condition.
High-Frequency Beta Brain Waves and Impulsive Behaviors
Impulsivity is a common symptom that people with ADHD often experience, which can negatively impact their daily lives. Research has consistently shown that individuals with ADHD experience a lower amount of high-frequency beta brain waves compared to those without the same condition.
Beta brain waves are commonly produced during periods of efficient information processing and are associated with elevated alertness, focus, and attention. In contrast, low-frequency delta waves are often associated with drowsiness and inattentiveness, obviously making it harder to focus and concentrate.
Studies have found that increasing the production of high-frequency beta brain waves can lead to a reduction in impulsive behaviors and an improvement in attention. This is where neurofeedback training comes in.
By allowing the individual to understand how their brain is responding in real-time, neurofeedback training can help them learn how to control their brain activity and increase the production of high-frequency beta brain waves. Over time, this can lead to a reduction in impulsive behavior symptoms.
It’s important to note that each individual’s brain wave activity is unique, and therefore, neurofeedback training should be tailored to the specific imbalances of each individual. This requires a personalized training protocol that is designed to target the areas that need improvement.
Theta Brain Waves and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Recent research has shown that patients suffering from ADHD might have an excess of theta brain waves. As noted earlier, theta brain waves are often associated with drowsiness, inattention, daydreaming, and sleep. An overabundance of theta brain waves can lead to cognitive dysfunction and impulsivity. The excessive amount of theta waves in patients with ADHD may contribute to their symptoms and make it difficult for them to focus, concentrate, and remain organized.
Similarly to the beta brain waves, neurofeedback training can improve the theta brain wave activities for individuals with ADHD. Through iterative training and positive reinforcement, individuals can rebalance the electrical activities within their brains and improve the frequency of theta brain waves for more optimal functioning.
Neurofeedback Treatment Overview
Neurofeedback therapy utilizes electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback technology, which measures the electrical activity of the brain. Patients engage in various activities during the neurofeedback training sessions, and the system compares their brain wave patterns to available data in an internal database. Based on that comparison, the system then provides feedback to positively or negatively reinforce certain behaviors or responses. Over time, this type of training helps the brain develop healthier patterns of activity and improve self-regulation.
What to Expect at Neurofeedback Session
Before starting your first neurofeedback session, you’ll need to undergo a thorough assessment and evaluation process first. The initial step is a medical evaluation, which includes neuropsychological testing and a symptom questionnaire. This assessment provides the healthcare practitioner with necessary information about your medical history, cognitive function, and current symptoms, which are used to determine the appropriate treatment plan.
The next step is the EEG measurement via a brain map. In a seated position, you’ll wear a cap lined with electrodes to measure your brain activity during the session. The EEG brain map is used to identify the different frequencies of the participant’s brain waves, monitor any imbalances that need to be addressed, and establish a baseline for your current state of mental functioning.
Once the initial information is gathered, your practitioner will develop a personalized neurofeedback treatment plan for you to address your symptoms in the short and long-term. At those subsequent sessions, you’ll utilize the same head cap to monitor your brain’s electrical activity.
During each session, you will typically engage in different activities, which may include simple tasks, watching videos, or practicing cognitive exercises. The EEG technology will measure the different frequencies of your brain waves during each activity, thus identifying those that are underperforming or unbalanced. Through the clinician’s guidance and feedback, you’ll be able to address the imbalances and symptoms.
The sessions typically last between 10-30 minutes and may be conducted 2-3 times per week. The number of sessions necessary for success can vary, but patients may expect anywhere from 20-40 sessions to get the symptom relief they’re looking for.
Efficacy of Neurofeedback for ADHD
Neurofeedback therapy has become a popular method for addressing symptoms associated with ADHD. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that the use of neurofeedback therapy in conjunction with medication and behavior therapy produced more significant improvements in ADHD symptoms than medication and behavior therapy alone.
In many cases, patients have been able to reduce their need for prescription medications after extensive neurofeedback treatment. A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Neurology found that after receiving neurofeedback training, patients with ADHD were able to reduce or even completely discontinue medication use with continued symptom improvement.
We should note that not all patients respond to neurofeedback therapy, and it may not be a suitable treatment option for everyone. Still, it’s a good idea to look closer at this treatment technique if you struggle with ADHD symptoms.
An Effective Treatment Option with Few Side Effects
One of the greatest advantages of neurofeedback therapy is that it does not cause the negative side effects associated with medication or invasive procedures. It is a completely natural, drug-free, and non-invasive form of treatment.
Neurofeedback therapy is a highly professional treatment designed to generate long-term symptom relief for individuals who struggle with mental health concerns. It’s an incredibly safe therapy that has tons of benefits to offer you.
If you struggle with ADHD, try integrating neurofeedback therapy into your mental health treatment regimen.
Author’s BIO: Nellia Melnyk is a researcher, and content creator who has a keen interest in neuroscience and psychology. She has developed an impressive collection of articles and blog posts focused on improving cognitive function, overcoming mental health issues, and enhancing overall brain health. Nellia is committed to helping individuals harness the power of their brains and live their best lives.