Iris Healing® Retreat, Woodland Hills, CA

Neurofeedback for ADHD

What is neurofeedback for ADHD? Learn how neurofeedback treatment can benefit patients experiencing ADHD


Article Contents

What is ADHD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that is typically diagnosed during early childhood.

Symptoms of ADHD

The most common signs of ADHD are inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and low impulse control. Depending on the severity of the ADHD, the condition can cause significant problems in a person’s social life, school and work life, and romantic life if left untreated.1

Types of ADHD

There are three recognized types of ADHD, and each one exhibits different symptoms. These include:

  • Predominantly inattentive presentation: More commonly found in girls, this type of ADHD manifests as an inability to finish tasks, being frequently forgetful, and having difficulty following directions. This type has been traditionally harder to diagnose due to the stigma surrounding ADHD.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation: More commonly found in boys, this type of ADHD manifests as an inability to sit still, constant restlessness, low impulse control, difficulty waiting their turn, and frequently interrupting.
  • Combined presentation: The patient has some symptoms of both above types.

Effects of ADHD

ADHD, when left untreated, can cause problems focusing on school, work, and home life. This can cause people with ADHD to get bad grades, frequently get into trouble, or not understand some concepts they are being taught.

In later life, this translates to difficulty meeting deadlines at work, being reprimanded or fired for tardiness, etc. It can also cause problems in relationships due to inattentiveness and the inability to listen well.

Potential Treatments

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication are the most common treatment options for patients with ADHD. For more severe cases of ADHD, where medication and therapy do not seem to be helping, ADHD neurofeedback therapy may be prescribed.

Changing certain aspects of their lives may be beneficial for people with ADHD. For example, those with ADHD often benefit from having a strict, structured schedule and usually function better when they have a routine that they can follow.2

Background of Neurofeedback

Called EEG biofeedback initially, neurofeedback is a specific type of therapy that has been used to treat the symptoms of ADHD since the late 1950s. In 1920, a German psychiatrist by the name of Hans Berger created the first EEG machine.

Using the research that he discovered and his designs as a starting point for their work, Dr. Joseph Kamiya and Dr. Barry Sterman worked separately but simultaneously to create what would become known as EEG biofeedback therapy.

They discovered that when rewards, such as ringing a bell, were offered during specific brainwave activity, that activity could be trained to be repeated. The idea was not complex: train the brain by using physiological limits as feedback. Dr. Sterman would also apply this same training to people with epilepsy, and he was able to reduce the rate of their seizures by 20-100%. Outcomes include increased focus and brain resiliency as well as decreased stress.3

Neurofeedback for ADHD

Neurofeedback for ADHD

EEG Biofeedback, or neurofeedback, is a treatment option for ADHD that attempts to train the brain into a calmer state by providing some form of reward for normalized brain waves.

It is believed that by slowly training the brain to react to the positive stimuli over time, the brain will learn to reduce or avoid harmful brain activity.

What Is Neurofeedback for ADHD?

Once known as EEG Biofeedback, ADHD neurofeedback is a process that begins with the therapist attaching electrodes to the patient’s head to measure brainwaves. These electrodes do not provide any electrical current, and they do not do anything to alter the patient’s brain waves directly.

Instead, while they measure the patient’s brainwaves, the EEG completes a brain map that determines what the brain’s activity looks like before treatment. From here, the patient will be asked to watch a movie, play a video game, or perform some other stimulating tasks.

When the EEG shows that the patient is concentrating, a reward sound, such as a bell, will sound to let them know that they are focusing correctly. When they start to lose concentration, the screen may waver or darken until their attention is refocused.

Eventually, the brain will begin to train itself to actively concentrate on tasks rather than getting distracted, which can help relieve ADHD symptoms.4

Does Neurofeedback work for ADHD?

Research is still being conducted on the effectiveness of neurofeedback treatment for ADHD. While some studies have suggested that beginning neurofeedback therapy in childhood has shown efficacy in reducing the symptoms of ADHD, other studies have shown that the effect may only be temporary.

More studies need to be completed to determine the effectiveness of neurofeedback for ADHD truly.5

Is It Safe to Use Neurofeedback for ADHD?

Neurofeedback therapy is believed to be completely safe. It is entirely non-invasive, and there is nothing done explicitly to a patient’s brain to force it to modify itself. It works by using outside stimuli to gently influence the brain via a reward system.

Neurofeedback Therapy Side Effects

While most patients won’t feel any side effects, some may experience neurotherapy side effects. These neurotherapy side effects are generally mild and only last briefly. They include:6

  • Mental fatigue
  • Vivid dreams and emotions
  • Dizziness, nausea, and light sensitivity (particularly in those that had previous head trauma)

How Much Does Neurofeedback for ADHD Cost?

Neurofeedback therapy for ADHD can be expensive, costing $2,200 per session. Patients should discuss other treatment options with their providers before seeking neurotherapy, and they should talk to their insurance provider to determine coverage.

How Many Neurofeedback Sessions for ADHD?

Neurofeedback training for ADHD typically takes up to 24 sessions to work. These sessions are twice a week over 12 weeks with each session lasting 45 minutes.

Neurofeedback and Other Mental Health Therapies at Iris Healing®

For some patients with ADHD, medication and behavioral therapy do not work. This can be especially true for patients with a dual diagnosis or those struggling with substance addiction and ADHD.

For these patients, neurotherapy may be effective. At Iris Healing®, we believe in using holistic and compassionate care to help our patients overcome the symptoms of their conditions.

Is Neurofeedback Covered by Insurance?

There is no guarantee that your insurance provider will cover neurotherapy treatment. It is recommended that patients discuss their symptoms and other treatment options with their medical provider or therapist to determine their best option.

Patients should check with their insurance provider to determine eligibility, coverage, and any out-of-pocket cost that they may have to pay.

Other Treatment Programs

Neurofeedback therapy is not the only treatment for ADHD. Besides neurofeedback therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication are frequently beneficial and effective in treating most people with ADHD.

Getting Help

Reach out to our team today to learn how Iris Healing® can help you manage your ADHD symptoms and discuss your treatment options.

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