You may have noticed the term “neurofeedback adult adhd” clustered together and wondered what the significance of it was. ADHD may seem like a childhood disorder, but it is estimated that four percent of the adult population in the United States suffer from the condition. Unlike children, who are often obviously inattentive or hyperactive, ADHD manifests itself differently in adults. It may result in insomnia, difficulty maintaining relationships and poor work habits. For those with adult ADHD, neurofeedback offers the opportunity to create mental clarity.
Understanding the Basics of Neurofeedback
Sometimes referred to as biofeedback or neurotherapy, neurofeedback is a process by which an individual retrains their brain to encourage focus. Far from being mind control in the science-fiction sense, neurofeedback is a tool that allows individuals to foster brain wave patterns associated with an attentive state of mind.
Unlike some of the other treatments for adult ADHD, neurofeedback is non-invasive. It works by placing electrodes on various points of the head. These monitor and record brain waves throughout the neurofeedback session. Patients sit in front of a computer screen and focus on an image such as a smiley face or flying birds. When the individual is able to maintain an attentive EEG brain pattern—one that increases beta waves and decreases theta waves—the smile continues to smile or the birds fly.
To be successful, neurofeedback must be administered in a series of up to 40 sessions, with two to three scheduled per week. It is important that note that, like other medical treatments, not everyone will find success using neurofeedback. Generally, after 5-6 sessions, you should be able to begin to see a difference and determine whether the treatment will be effective for you.
After completion of the entire series of sessions, many individuals will find that their brains automatically maintain a focused EEG pattern. Others, upon becoming distracted, may visualize the images seen during the training session to return to a more attentive state. After a period of time, it may also be necessary to return for a series of 5-6 sessions to refresh the training. Incidentally, if you’re interested in finding out about some possible homeopathic remedies, read about how a gluten free diet might lessen the effects of ADHD.
Adult ADHD, Neurofeedback and Scientific Research
The use of neurofeedback has been controversial in the past. This is in large part because of the lack of large-scale, controlled research testing the effectiveness of the treatment. In addition, those studies that have been completed focus almost exclusively on children with ADHD.
Despite lacking a depth of research, those studies that have been completed are promising. Results from what was perhaps the largest study on the subject were published in July 2009 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Researchers from the University of Gottingen in Germany compared the outcomes of children receiving neurofeedback to those of a control group. Parents and teachers of those in the neurofeedback group reported:
- Significant reductions in inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive behavior at home
- Significant reductions in inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive behavior at school
- Reduction in oppositional and aggressive behaviors
With hope, future research will be completed to further investigate neurofeedback and expand the findings to include adults struggling with ADHD.
Should You Treat Your Adult ADHD with Neurofeedback?
The decision to try neurofeedback is best made by consulting with a trained health care professional such as a psychologist. Unlike medicines and other invasive treatments, there are no side effects associated with neurofeedback.
For many, the main obstacle to using neurofeedback to treat adult ADHD is the price. Fortunately, many health insurance companies will cover neurofeedback sessions so long as they are administered by a psychologist or other approved health care provider.
Before contacting your insurer, it may be helpful to contact local providers and ask if they participate with your health plan. They can also provide you with the code they use to bill insurance companies. You can then call your insurance plan and ask whether that code will be covered. Don’t forget to also inquire into whether you will be required to make any co-payments and whether benefits are capped.
To locate a neurofeedback provider in your area, you can search online at the EEG Info Directory. As always, be sure to check credentials and references before beginning any course of treatment.
For those with adult ADHD, neurofeedback offers hope for normalcy. Rather than spend years struggling with low self-esteem and poor relationships, neurofeedback can help you retrain your brain to foster focus, attention and clarity.
Gevensleben, H, et al. Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomised controlled clinical trial. Journal on Child Psychology and Psychiatry. July 209
Rabiner, David. New Study Supports Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD. SmartBrains.com. March 11, 2009 (https://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2009/03/11/new-study-supports-neurofeedback-treatment-for-adhd/)
MedicineNet. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD in Adults. https://www.medicinenet.com/adhd_in_adults/article.htm (Accessed 9/18/10)
WebMD. ADHD Guide. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-symptoms (Accessed 9/18/20)
Personal family experience with neurofeedback