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Not only is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder the most commonly diagnosed brain disorder amongst children but it is also the fastest growing psychiatric illness of America’s youth. Kids are not the only demographic affected by ADHD. Roughly 4% of U.S. adults suffer from ADHD. American women between the ages of 24 and 36 are the fastest growing population seeking treatment for ADHD.
As the ADHD epidemic continues to spread, the treatment options available to those suffering from ADHD also continue to grow. Traditional treatment options such as medications and talk therapy are no longer the only avenues for ADHD relief. One such burgeoning method of treatment for ADHD is using brain mapping and neurofeedback to alleviate symptoms of the disorder. In fact, of all the clinical applications for neurofeedback, treating ADHD is the most researched application. If you would like to learn more about this ground-breaking therapy, here are 17 facts about Neurofeedback, ADHD, and treating ADHD with neurotherapy.
1.What is Neurotherapy?
Neurotherapy, also called EEG biofeedback, neurofeedback, or brainwave training is a type of therapy that uses real-time electroencephalography (EEG) to give patient’s a picture of how their brain is operating. Patient’s undergoing neurotherapy have brainwave sensing electrodes placed on their scalp. These sensors allow neuropsychologist and clinicians to observe a patient’s brain and gather key data as to what may be causing such mental disorders. Various conditions of neurophysiological over-arousal or under-arousal can contribute to why a client may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), This EEG information allows neurotherapy administrators to create a brain training program for their patients.
Once a map of a patient’s brain is created, patients then undergo neurofeedback training. This training usually entails patient’s watching a movie, playing a game or listening to music while their brainwaves are being monitored. To encourage healthy brain activity, the music, game, or movie plays as usual when a patient exerts optimal brain activity. When a patient’s brain activity becomes unbalanced or the patient loses focus, the movie or music will suddenly pause.
2. Science of Neurofeedback
After 2-3 sessions a week for 3 months of the therapy described above many patients begin to train themselves to maintain steady breathing patterns and keep a calm focus. But how does such neurofeedback produce healthier minds without medication? Neurofeedback training brings about specific neural changes pertinent to the trained brain circuit and their underlying behavioral changes. These changes have can last from hours to months after training and can change the composition of gray and white matter structures of the brain.
3.The Modern Development of ADHD and Treating ADHD with Neurofeedback
The medical community has only begun to accurately describe and understand ADHD for the last half century. The APA’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) did not recognize ADHD until it’s second publication in 1968 which coined the disorder as hyperkinetic impulse disorder. The third edition of the DSM named renamed the disorder to attention deficit disorder. Finally, in 1987 the APA landed on attention deficit hyperactivity
J.F. Lubar made the first demonstration of the effects of neurofeedback on ADHD in 1976. In a medical journal that Lubar penned, he described the application of SMR neurofeedback in a child with ADHD and found success in improving the child’s distractibility and hyperactivity. Combining this information with the qEEG technology that was being developed at UCLA in the 70’s, researchers were able to determine that ADHD could be characterized as an excess of theta waves and a decrease in beta waves.
4. Living with ADHD in the 21st Century
Prior generations were severely underequipped to understand and deal with ADHD. Some folks still do not believe that ADHD is a real medical condition. Although some of the largest groups within the mental health community would disagree with those folks. Institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Institute of Health have all recognized the condition.
While applying Neurofeedback to ADHD is seeing growing success, not all medical professionals are aware of this type of treatment. Neurofeedback is still considered an alternative treatment option. If your general practitioner is unequipped to provide answers about neurofeedback, don’t be afraid to research the treatment on your own by talking with mental health professionals, checking out peer-reviewed studies, and contacting your local neurofeedback provider.
5. Symptoms of the ADHD
In 2000, the fourth edition of the DSM was released which outlines the three subtypes of ADHD used by mental health care professionals today. The three subtypes of ADHD are predominantly inattentive type ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD, and the combined type of ADHD. People with inattentive type of ADHD are often easily distracted by outside stimulus, overlook or miss minor details, cannot sustain attention at various settings, do not follow through with tasks, have problems with staying organized, and avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort.
On the other hand, those who experience Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD experience symptoms like: Being unable to sit still in their seats; feeling restless or running or climbing in situations where it is not appropriate; lacking the ability to play or engage in pleasurable activities quietly; constantly in motion or “on the go”; talking incessantly; having difficulty waiting her or his turn; and intruding or interrupting others.
6. Child ADHD
The type of symptoms of ADHD one experiences depend on at what age one is affected by the disorder. For example, where adults may feel restless throughout their day, children are dashing, running or climbing at inopportune moments. In many cases the fundamental causes of child ADHD symptoms may be caused by anxiety, poor sleep quality, vision problems, a learning disability, or other conditions.
Symptoms of child ADHD can begin as early as 3 years old. If you believe your child may be dealing with ADHD, it can be difficult to discern between misbehavior and behavior brought on by the disorder. A couple ways parents can proactively manage some of the symptoms of the disorder is by establishing clear, consistent expectations, and limits. Creating a behavior modification plan for your child also can help them and you isolate and attempt to change behavior caused by ADHD.
7. Teen ADHD
One of the more difficult forms of ADHD to diagnose is teen ADHD. As adolescence is often a time for changes, it is difficult to determine when a behavior is caused by the disorder or by fluctuating hormones. Another challenge with teen ADHD stems from the fact that most people aren’t looking for it as they assume that the disorder is just for children. So, if your teen shows an inability to follow directions, focus, or follow school deadlines, maybe the problem is more than just behavioral. Adolescence is a crucial time for our development and too many times teens living with undiagnosed ADHD get mislabeled as unmotivated, unintelligent or as being a problem child.
8. Adult ADHD
Again, ADHD does not only affect children. The common misperception that adults cannot suffer from ADHD is a dangerous idea for any adult who may be dealing with the disorder. If left untreated, adult ADHD can lead to difficulties at work, depression, anxiety, marital problems, and even substance abuse. While roughly 60% of children outgrow ADHD, many bring the disorder with them into adulthood.
If you believe you are experiencing adult ADHD seek medical attention to get diagnosed. There are some things that you can do to manage adult ADHD. For example, staying organized by making daily and weekly tasks lists. Another technique used to manage adult ADHD is to cut down on any unnecessary distractions. If you find that you are easily distracted by music or others talking, move to a quitter location or put in earplugs. Lastly, maintaining healthy breathing habits can also help you manage adult ADHD.
9. ADHD and Sleep
One of the less talked about symptoms of depression is troubles with sleeping. For a long time, the DSM required all ADHD symptoms to manifest themselves in patients before the age of seven to be considered “related” to the condition. But children rarely exhibit signs of sleep problems which usually surface beyond the age of seven. But recent developments in our understanding of the disorder have linked sleeping problems with ADHD.
So, whether your ADHD is caused by your sleep troubles or your sleep troubles are caused by your ADHD is trivial when you are living each day with a less than full battery. Make progress in dealing with your sleep issues by tracking when and how you sleep. This will help you pinpoint patterns and will give you and your doctor a better assessment of the issues you face.
10. ADHD in Women
ADHD in Women is often under diagnosed as the symptoms of the disorder often get overlooked and labeled as character traits. Whereas classic ADHD is thought of as hyperactivity, Women tend to be affected by the second type of ADHD or the inattentive type, which makes tasks such as focusing, paying attention to detail, and remembering things difficult. 50% – 75% of women with ADHD go undiagnosed which can create challenges later in life. Women are three times as likely to be treated for mood disorders before being correctly diagnosed with ADHD. If there is a bright side to such disparate diagnosis of ADHD it is that women who do get diagnosed with the disorder are more likely than men to seek treatment for it.
11. Troubles with Medication-Based Treatment
For decades, ADHD sufferers have been led to pharmaceutical relief. Such drugs as Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin have been used to great effect to thwart off the disorder. But such relief can come with a price. Such stimulants are highly addictive controlled substances which can have patients running the risk of abuse. Beyond addictiveness, taking medication regularly can be a challenge for those with ADHD as one of the hallmark symptoms is forgetfulness.
Aside from the reported side effects of such medications, parents are hesitant about the long-term effects of pharmaceutical treatment options. Further, the long-term efficacy of ADHD drugs has not been shown, which makes the duration of treatment unpredictable. ADHD is particularly tricky because the symptoms of ADHD have been documented to reappear after drug treatment has been discontinued.
12. Recent Studies Comparing Medication to Neurofeedback
Despite a general skepticism of neurofeedback from the pharmaceutical community, recent studies have compared the efficacy of neurofeedback treatment with traditional methods of ADHD treatment. Support for the alternative treatment option has been steadily growing thanks to such studies as Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: A randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports (2012) and Neurofeedback and standardized pharmacological intervention in ADHD: A randomized controlled trial with six-month follow up. (2014)
The 2012 study mentioned above randomly assigned neurofeedback, stimulant medication, or both neurofeedback and medication to children participants. Although the children in all groups showed significant reduction in inattentive and hyperactivity, the effect on inattentive symptoms appeared to be greatest for the neurofeedback only group.
13. Increasing Brain Strength through Diet
Our understanding of dietary importance in developing brain health has greatly evolved in recent years. It is now known that a healthy diet can not only have you looking and feeling great, but a healthy diet can also have positive repercussions for one’s long-term wellbeing, including brain health. Some foods have been found to decrease cognitive decay, preserve beneficial brain proteins, and reduce the risk of some mental illnesses. Taking a comprehensive approach to maintaining brain health includes monitoring your diet.
One recent study observed 500 participants over the span of 30 years that were following a heart-healthy lifestyle. Participants who followed the heart healthy regimen more closely, had less age-related brain shrinkage. This is important because larger brain volume is associated with better health. Also, participants who adopted a heart-healthy lifestyle from a younger age and continued the healthy lifestyle longer than other participants had higher than average brain volume when the study concluded. So take heed, take care of your heart and your brain will reap the benefits.
14. Exercise and ADHD
It comes as no surprise that exercise has great benefits for one’s body. But did you know that exercise is great for the brain as well? No, we are not talking about the confidence you will exude down by the pool. Recent studies have also shown that exercising regularly can reduce symptoms of ADHD. Exercise can trigger attention to function productively like having sustained focus, memory, and prioritizing.
On top of that, working out releases chemicals in the brain that people suffering from ADHD are known to lack. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all released in the brain during exercise. Researchers claim that walking as little as a half an hour, a few times a week, can have you feeling such brain benefits. If you are out of exercise practice, remember to start slow and get any changes to your exercise regimen approved by your doctor.
15. Neurocore Treatment of ADHD
Neurocore is one of the nation’s leader’s in applied neurofeedback and has been serving the mental health community for fourteen years. Their testing for ADHD includes a quantitative electroencephalogram that measure brainwaves activity. By comparing your qEEG results with the results of thousands of other patients, Neurocore can pinpoint ADHD and other mental disorders.
When diagnosing ADHD in their patients, Neurocore also uses Heart Rate Variability to measures heart rate and breathing patterns, which can be vital to the overall health of the brain. Good consistency between the respiratory and cardiovascular system is crucial when working towards a healthy brain.
Another diagnostic tool that Neurocore’s mental health professionals use when understanding a patient’s ADHD is a behavioral checklist. Children receive the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) while Adult’s complete the Adult Self-Report (ASR) to help the clinicians begin to understand the behaviors a patient experience. Addressing social and emotional health concerns is the top priority of Neurocore and these assessment tools are a great first step towards these goals.
Once clinicians have a good idea about how ADHD effects a patient and after the patient receives their individual brain map, it is time to undergo Neurofeedback. At a Neurocore Brain Performance Center’s, patients undergo 45-minute neurofeedback and biofeedback sessions in an attempt to improve neuroplasticity. A typical session consists of watching a movie of your choice that plays when your brain speed is within the optimal range. If a patient loses focus and their brainwaves go out of range, the movie stops, alerting the patient that something is out of balance. After a typical 30-session program, the patient’s brain teaches itself how to stop going out of range, which helps brain functioning improve. With biofeedback, you learn to breathe deeper and slower to maximize your heart function, allowing proper blood and oxygen flow. To learn more about Neurocore’s methods and efficacy, check out their website at www.neurocorecenters.com.16. Neurocore’s Neurofeedback Experience