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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

ADHD and ADD: Why Neurofeedback Could Be a Better Alternative than Adderall?

In the US alone, since 1960, the use of Adderall went up by 1600%

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Ekaterina Mouromtseva
Ekaterina Mouromtseva
Behavioural and Social Sciences student covering France, Spain and Russia

FRANCE: With the constant overwhelming stimuli presented to us in the world we live in today, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are now more commonly diagnosed than ever.

Attention deficit disorders and Adderall

ADD and ADHD are attention deficit disorders characterized by their distractibility and the struggle for these individuals to control their impulses.

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The most common treatment for these attention deficit disorders is Adderall. In the US alone, since 1960, the use of this drug went up by 1600%. However, these treatments only function on a short-term effect, if the individual stops using this drug they go back to where they started.

This is troubling as more and more parents receive an ADD or ADHD diagnosis for their child, and it has been said to be an overly diagnosed disease.

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For these reasons, there is a growing concern of children taking Adderall as stimulants generally have a bad reputation for being addictive, as the effect happens to be very short term. This way is also a very mechanical perception of the treatment, as doctors will prescribe the medication, and the children will take this medication.

In turn, they are not learning how to cope with their predicament and will always be reliant on Adderall to make themselves feel better and more focused.

Is there an alternative?

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Medication is not the only possible treatment. Since the ’90s, there has been an alternative called Neurofeedback, or biofeedback that trains the brain with breathing and heart coherence. It is essentially a learning process that is enhanced by technology.

Neurofeedback works by the brain activity is measured and the feedback being displayed visually for the patient to see on a television screen. This allows for easier access into a state where the patient is well concentrated and relaxed. It also means that you don’t give energy to irrelevant stimuli.

The client can learn how to train and regulate his brain activity by getting real-time feedback from his Electroencephalogram (EEG). The bio trace software analyses the EEG signals that are coming from the brain and turns them into audiovisual feedback on a computer screen, so the client controls his brain activity.

The goal is to train to bring down the theta waves and slow them down so that the patient is more concentrated.

Unlike medication, the success of the feedback training depends on the motivation of the client and the skills of the therapist. A certified therapist and certified equipment are required for this kind of treatment.

The advantages in the long term, if the patient learns the cerebral patterns and can apply them to everyday life, it will be permanent. This allows for a solution that can help rewire the brain and would then reduce the cost in health care as the medication turns into a lifelong prescription. The training once it is completed, no longer is necessary for further treatment.

A Case study: Tax

Tax is a young boy whose attention deficit disorder affects his everyday life. He has trouble controlling his anger and therefore, keeps getting asked by his school to leave and be placed in specialized schools. However, his parents want to keep him in the public school system.

His parents have turned to Neurofeedback to help his condition. At the beginning of his training Tax focuses on his breathing, observing it, and slowing it down before the EEG has even started.

On a television screen, there is a rocket. Tax is controlling the movement of the rocket and it when only fly when he is focused and meets the EEG criteria set by the therapist. The television screen allows for the visual projection of what is happening inside the brain, so the child can see when the concentration is poor.

At first, Tax found it difficult to concentrate and when he would speak to his therapist he would be all over the place. After completing his training, he is concentrated and when feeling irritated will talk about it.

sHe has seen the advantages, as he has become less angry over time. The broader range of responses he has acquired through Neurofeedback lets him understand his condition from another perspective.

The disadvantages

As Neurofeedback is a learning process, it requires multiple sessions before seeing results. This means that the costs of the treatment can end up being very expensive, as one session costs around 2000 dollars plus 250 dollars the initial assessment fee. Due to the lack of guidelines, it’s quite difficult to get insurance coverage for this kind of therapy.

It is also a long-term process that requires around 40 sessions spaced 2-3 days apart. Improvement is usually only seen from a month on.

Some side effects can include mental fatigue, return of old feelings, and dizziness.

Also Read: An Exhausted Mental Health Care Sector Leaves 8M People Helpless, NHS

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