Neurofeedback, also known as “eeg biofeedback” trains children to become more aware of their physiological responses and how to gain control of the brain’s frontal lobe, which is the executive functioning center. The American American Academy of Pediatrics approved neurofeedback as Level 1 or “best support” treatment option for children suffering from Attention and hyperactivity issues.

Children with ADHD have higher rates of EEG abnormalities compared to children without ADHD, such as higher theta wave rhythms (drowsiness), lower sensorimotor rhythms (movement control), and lower beta waves (attention and memory processes). It also has been studied and reported that the brains of children with ADHD are lacking the regulation from the frontal region, allowing the mid-brain to quickly react without a type of checking system. Neurofeedback restores the strength of the frontal region of the brain, and builds a better connection between the mid-brain and forebrain, allowing focus, attention, impulses, and emotional reactions to become manageable.

During a neurofeedback session, EEG sensors are situated on the scalp. Specific brain wave activity is then detected, amplified, and the information is instantaneously fed back to the technician and client on a screen. With the help of a video game or movie, the individual’s brain is guided to maintain the correct pattern or the game will not continue to play. With this, the individual exercises the brain and increases his focus and attention. The brain quickly recognizes this treatment as positive feedback, thus striving to produce these more efficient brain waves more often. Parents will typically see a reduction of symptoms within the first 10 sessions.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a psychostimulant drug commonly used for the treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents. Research suggests that neurofeedback is an equally effective treatment. Children are typically given one-three doses of 10 mg Ritalin per day on school days. For parents who prefer other options aside from medication, neurofeedback is an effective, non invasive, and no stress option with permanent change. Nearly all pharmaceuticals create some type of side effects, including those used in treating brain-based disorders, many of which long term effects is yet unknown, and negative side effects are commonly reported.

Many ADHD drugs are psychostimulants, and most of them suppress appetite. This can lead to weight loss, which may sound like a good thing, but is not necessarily desirable in all cases, especially growing children. They can also cause difficulty sleeping, nervousness or restlessness, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure. This can make them unsuitable for many individuals, such as those with anxiety, bipolar depression, or predisposition to cardiovascular problems.

Neurofeedback Side Effects: A Nonexistent Problem

One of the major advantages of neurofeedback over standard medications is its lack of adverse side effects. Neurofeedback uses electroencephalography (EEG) as a tool. This process has been in use clinically for over a century, mostly for diagnosing neurological disorders. EEG testing is  harmless and noninvasive, and is safe for nearly all patients. Over 40 years of neurofeedback research  and more recent clinical use, has shown to both reduce symptoms and enhance subjective feelings of well-being, it has no unwanted or negative effects. This stands in stark contrast to almost all medications like psychostimulants and SSRIs. This makes neurofeedback therapy especially appealing and useful for those who do poorly on most medications designed for their particular condition or do not want the risk of side effects and unknown longer term issues.

There are no real neurofeedback side effects, unless you count a sense of subjective calmness and well-being. Neurofeedback is safe, noninvasive, and clinically proven to reduce symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, headaches, and many other common psychiatric and neurological conditions. If you or your child struggle with medications because of unwanted side effects or chose to avoid medications to address symptoms, neurofeedback is an certainly a viable option to consider.

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