Neurofeedback and ADHD

For those who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD or who have a child diagnosed with ADHD, you are familiar with the unpleasant symptoms that stem from the disorder. ADD and ADHD affect an individual's prefrontal cortex, located in the front of the brain. If you recall a previous blog entry on The Adolescent Brain, the prefrontal cortex is one of the last areas of the brain to develop. Within the prefrontal cortex, it affects one’s ability to perform executive functions. These functions primarily include the ability to plan and/or the ability to make decisions. This makes tasks asked of individuals in both work and school environments more challenging than for those who do not have a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. For students, planning ahead to complete a research project or trying to study in advance for a test can be extremely difficult and frustrating. Similarly for adults, trying to make a work deadline or attempting to finish a project can be overwhelming and feel nearly impossible. Individuals who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD often experience difficulties when tasks are too boring or too demanding. As such, these individuals may have difficulty working when a task feels mundane or working when under pressure. There are many other symptoms associated with ADD and ADHD, such as inattention or hyperactive-impulsive behavior, that an individual may experience. However, let’s move to look at possible treatment options for individuals affected by this disorder.

For those diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, there are lots of treatment options. Should you seek a therapist? Should you seek a psychiatrist? Should you try neurofeedback? This is a personal decision and should be decided on an individual basis. However, let’s take the time to examine how neurofeedback can help alleviate problematic symptoms and help you achieve optimal brain health.

According to several studies as cited by Dr. Clare Albright (2010), approximately 80% of individuals’ problematic symptoms are alleviated within 30-40 neurofeedback sessions. That may seem like a long time, but there is a benefit: the symptoms do not come back. Unlike other treatment alternatives, neurofeedback does not mask the symptoms but works to minimize and possibly eliminate the symptoms, permanently. How does it do this? Neurofeedback looks to treat the problems that are responsible for the symptoms-- it targets the source itself. Medication may help with symptoms, but unlike with neurofeedback, once an individual stops taking medications the symptoms are likely to reappear. If you decide that medication is an option for you or your loved one, know that it can be taken in conjunction with neurofeedback. However, before making any decisions regarding medication, please consult with your psychiatrist or doctor.

Luckily, neurofeedback treatment for ADHD is considered a “Level 1- Best Support” by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children and adolescents. Out of 5 levels, this is the most empirically supported treatment level an intervention could acquire. As such, this is a wonderful empirically-based treatment option for you or your loved ones.

If you are interested in the services that neurofeedback has to offer, please feel free to contact us to learn more about whether neurofeedback is a good fit for you.

 

References:

Albright, C. (2010). Neurofeedback: Transforming your life with brain biofeedback. Trenton, MO:Beckworth Publications.

The Adolescent Brain

Adolescence is a time of change for everyone. Adolescents are experiencing biological changes (think puberty), emotional changes (such as dealing with hormones), and often times, multiple environmental changes (transitioning schools and/or changes in friendships). During this period, adolescents are trying to further develop their sense of self. They are seeking autonomy from parents, discovering their interests, and possibly planning their futures.

Meanwhile, parents who have adolescent children are going through their own changes. Parents may be dealing with their own emotional changes and environmental changes with their adolescent child. Parents may need to alter their parenting styles to accommodate their child’s growing independence, parents may suddenly have to manage their own stress and how they react to their child’s changes, and/or parents may be finding a balance to be supportive and encouraging of their child (i.e. helping their child do his/her homework) while also letting a child experience consequences (i.e. failing a test because the child did not study).

Just as adolescents are going through many changes, parents are too.

In the following TED talk, cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jane Blakemore discusses the biological changes that occur during the process of adolescence in the human brain. She explains why there can be a disconnect between parents and their children during this critical developmental period, but more importantly, she discusses how important it is developmentally for children to experience these biological changes at this particular time.

For adolescents, remember, this period is only temporary. At times it may be uncomfortable, but the process is allowing your brain to develop new skills that will help you to function as an adult.

For parents, remember, this period is only temporary. At times it may be frustrating, but the process is allowing your child to develop new skills that will help him or her function as an adult.

During this period adolescents may experience problematic symptoms such as impulsivity, hormone imbalances, or symptoms associated with depression or anxiety. If you are interested in how neurofeedback may help alleviate these symptoms, contact a neurofeedback technician to see if neurofeedback is right for you.