Can neurofeedback treat the symptoms of ADD and ADHD without medication?
People with ADD/ADHD can display a variety of symptoms and may appear to be distracted, impulsive, and inattentive. However, ADD/ADHD is not a psychological problem – it’s a brain problem and often treated with medication when brain training can be a better, more healthy alternative.
Medications do not teach a person to cope long-term, and are accompanied by side effects such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep difficulties
- Potential cardiac risks
- Personality changes
Moreover, children with more significant ADD or ADHD may not gain much benefit from medications or behavioral interventions. People can also develop a tolerance to medications over time, resulting in increased dosages, additional medications, and potentially more side effects.
The long-term effects of ADD/ADHD medications are largely unknown. Ritalin, very often prescribed for the treatment of ADD and ADHD, has been used to treat ADD/ADHD since the 1960’s but still has not been studied for long-term effects. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association asserts:
[W]hile research has conclusively proven Ritalin’s short-term effectiveness, little is known about the long-term efficacy and safety of a drug that some children take for many years. In fact, the average duration of randomized trials of the drug is 3.3 weeks…. There aren’t long-term studies, and that’s of some concern because we don’t know whether the initial positive effects… might diminish over time. Moreover, we don’t know what happens to the side-effects… whether those got worse or maybe they diminish too – we don’t really know.
Unlike medication, neurofeedback actually retrains the brain, resulting in significant improvement in ADHD/ADD symptoms. With neurofeedback, people learn to make long-term improvements in self-control and attention because their brain learns to make healthier patterns.
Training the brain with neurofeedback helps to address the root of the problem without medications by helping create a healthier brain.
Why is neurofeedback so effective for ADD/ADHD?
If a stimulant literally speeds someone up, why is it prescribed for someone with hyperactivity problems? Why do stimulants seem to help someone with ADD/ADHD slow down and focus?
In a person with ADD or ADHD, the areas of the brain that control attention and focus may have too much slow activity, which can also lead to feeling depressed, worried, and unmotivated. Unconsciously, people with ADD/ADHD increase body movements to stimulate and “wake” their brains. Therefore, stimulants are prescribed to increase brain activity without increasing body movement.
The problem with this strategy is that people with ADHD may already be experiencing too much rapid activity in some regions of the brain, which can lead to other problems like acting aggressively, impulsively, or feeling anxious. A person’s brain can race so fast that it is nearly impossible for them to sit still or listen. In fact, because people with ADD are often quite intelligent, they understand concepts quickly. Their fast mental pace may cause them to move ahead before all the instructions are given, causing them to miss crucial details.
Research shows that neurofeedback is a successful alternative for treatment of ADD/ADHD.
ADD and ADHD are brain problems. Neurofeedback allows people to work directly on the problem by training the brain to become calmer, more focused, and less impulsive. By reducing the too-fast and too-slow brain patterns that occur in the brain of someone with ADD or ADHD, neurofeedback helps the person learn how to take control.
According to health professionals who use neurofeedback in their practices, over 85% of clients with ADD or ADHD learn to increase focus, reduce impulsivity, and manage their behavior when they train with neurofeedback on a consistent basis.
Another reason that neurofeedback is so effective for ADHD and ADD is that it appeals to children – it seems just like a computer game! Instead of controlling the game with a mouse, the child “plays” the game with his or her brain. Children seem to enjoy brain training, making it easy to continue with treatment and achieve significant improvements.