Pros, Cons, and Controversy

Although many studies have claimed to show beneficial results of neu-rofeedback, critics continue to argue. One argument is that there aren't enough controlled studies proving the effectiveness of neurofeedback. A controlled study by nature relies on rigorous protocol and uncompromising controls, and is usually very expensive to conduct.

Pros of Neurofeedback

Experts on both sides of the neurofeedback fence cite plenty of arguments in their favor. Here are a few reasons why proponents believe neurofeedback should be part of your adult ADHD treatment plan.

Because neurofeedback does not use drugs and is also a noninvasive procedure, it may be used by adults who may not be able to tolerate ADHD drugs or who have a history of substance abuse.

In some cases, neurofeedback may be as effective as stimulants and does not have significant side effects.

Neurofeedback is ideal for ADHD adults who are leery of taking stimulant medications they fear may alter their personality, disrupt their natural talent for creativity, and turn them into a pale and boring shadow of themselves.

Most ADHD adults find neurofeedback to be a fun, exciting, and interesting experience.

Proponents of neurofeedback claim to have a solid track record of treating a variety of conditions, including adult ADHD. They claim neurofeedback has been a successful intervention in modifying seizures, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, autistic behaviors, migraines, depression, anxiety, addictions, and sleep problems. In addition, it has also been used to resolve reading and math disability, and has reportedly helped famous athletes, artists, and executives achieve peak performance.

Some ADHD adults enjoy long-lasting positive changes after undergoing neurofeedback, including reduced negative behavior and thinking patterns, and increased self-confidence and self-esteem.

When the right criteria are used to select candidates for therapy and treatment, the majority of patients completing treatment reportedly show marked improvement in brain wave function.

Disadvantages of Neurofeedback

Those who oppose or question the validity of neurofeedback believe you should approach it with caution for the following reasons.

There isn't enough conclusive scientific evidence to show it really works.

Unlike most ADHD medications, neurofeedback is expensive. Because it's still considered an experimental treatment by many insurance companies, you could wind up paying a substantial sum. Sessions average anywhere from $50 to $100.

Neurofeedback is very time-consuming, requiring that you commit twice a week for a total of 40 sessions. You may also need booster sessions from time to time.

The benefits of neurofeedback are not long-lasting.

It may take months for the effects of neurofeedback to kick in.

Best Candidates for Neurofeedback

Anyone with a primary diagnosis of ADHD who has between low-average and above-average intelligence can be treated with neurofeedback, according to proponents. If you suffer from certain comorbid conditions, however, you're advised to avoid it, at least until those conditions are dealt with. These include severe depression, bipolar disorder, mental retardation, childhood psychosis, a significant seizure disorder where medications interfere with learning, and being a part of a dysfunctional family that refuses to participate in therapy.

Short- and Long-term Benefits

Short-term benefits cited by proponents of neurofeedback include improved attention, focus, and concentration; an increase in organizational skills and the ability to complete tasks; and a reduction in impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Advocates claim that long-term benefits can be wide-reaching and affect virtually every aspect of an individual's life. The benefits can include improved behavior at home, at work, and in social settings; improved aptitude when learning and mastering new skills; higher intelligence test scores; increased self-esteem, confidence, and social poise; improved job performance; increased financial stability; higher socioeconomic status; improved health; increased mental and emotional stability; better marital relationships; a lower divorce rate; more stable relationships with friends, colleagues, peers, and bosses; and greater realization of innate potential.

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