Treating Adult ADHD without Medication
How do you manage adult ADHD? This article explains why neurofeedback is one of the most effective alternative treatments for Adult ADHD today.
Adult ADHD is a mental health condition (adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) that is characterized by impulsive behavior, hyperactivity and difficulty maintaining attention. The symptoms of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be such that it affects your ability to establish relationships, affect work or school and cause low self-esteem. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults affect over 4% of all Americans today and while there are several treatments available, there are serious side effects.
While ADHD often starts in early childhood, it is not uncommon for it to be diagnosed later in life. Children who were diagnosed with ADHD are likely to carry some of those symptoms well into adulthood. But even if an adult was never diagnosed with ADHD as a child, that doesn’t mean he/she won’t be affected by Adult ADHD disorder later on.
Adults with ADHD have often find it difficult to focus and concentrate on simple tasks for long periods of time. They show signs of restlessness, impulsivity, disorganization, and may be hot-tempered. Other symptoms include difficulty completing tasks, frequent mood swings, low frustration tolerance, and difficulty coping with stress.
Many adults with ADHD are not aware that they have the condition. What they’re aware of is that accomplishing everyday tasks can be a challenge. They also find it difficult to concentrate and prioritize tasks, so they end up missing deadlines and forgetting plans. And because they can’t tolerate frustration, they can get angry at any given time. To control the symptoms of Adult ADHD, doctors prescribe their patients with medications. These can help patients get back their focus and feeling of control.
Types of Adult ADHD Medications
Adderall: This is one of the most common medications prescribed. While it may only be a small pill, it’s capable of increasing concentration and focus, with many adverse side effects.
This does not mean Adderall is inherently bad, but the side effects can be serious. Among the side effects of Adderall include nervousness, restlessness, excitability, dizziness, headaches, anxiousness, agitation, insomnia, dry mouth, and loss of appetite to name a few. The effects can be much worse if the drug is taken in an abusive manner as the effect has been compared to crystal meth. Primarily because their chemical structure is almost identical.
The majority of adult ADHD attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications are classified as stimulants. Various types of stimulants are available but all of them essentially cause your blood pressure to go up as well as your heart rate. If you have hypertension or a heart condition, you will be putting yourself at even more risk. Among the riskier ADHD stimulants are:
You might also come across another medication called atomoxetine, and while it’s not a stimulant, it has been known to cause irregular heartbeats and seizures, so if you have a heart condition, these ADHD drugs will be more of a hindrance and health risk than a help.
There are many other potential problems that could arise from the use and dependence on adult ADHD medication:
· Addiction and abuse: some people become addicted to these drugs, with some actually crushing the pills and inhaling to get a “high”. Needless to say this can lead to an overdose and all the problems associated with it. This is especially risky among those who have a history of drug abuse.
· Psychiatric problems: as was pointed out earlier, Adderall could lead to mental health issues, especially if they overdose on the drug. Some ADHD drugs for instance, could lead to hostility, aggression and other behavior problems, and the more serious side effects lead to bipolar disorder. While there is no certainty this will happen, the possibility is there, which underscores the risk of taking ADHD medications.
· Stimulant ADHD medications could also lead to symptoms of psychosis or mood swings, and if left untreated this can cause other mental health issues like paranoia and hearing things.
With all the problems and potential health risks, it’s easy to see why some people are looking for alternative treatments, and one of the most popular is neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback Therapy Provides an Alternative to Medication
To get an Adult ADHD Assessment, call our clinic to speak with our neurofeedback doctors at (801) 649-4445.
For the past 40 years neurofeedback has been studied in research labs at prominent Universities throughout the world. The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research estimates there are more than 7,500 medical experts in the United States that offer neurofeedback services of various types. In fact, Dr Frank H. Duffy, a Professor and Neurologist at Harvard Medical School, stated that
“Neurofeedback should play a major therapeutic role. If any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used.”
Adult ADHD treatment was initially greeted with some skepticism, but a recent study was published in the Journal of Attention Deficit Disorders that highlighted the effect of neurofeedback working with ADHD, and the results have been positive. The study was financed by the National Institute of Mental Health and the results showed just how important neurofeedback can be in terms of treating the condition. The study involved 36 participants and the research was conducted by an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Ohio State, Eugene Arnold, M.D.
Participant results exhibited significant improvements in their condition. Another study done by John Kounios, Ph.D., a Drexel University Professor of Psychology, shows that neurofeedback treatment helps speed up the cognitive processes among elderly individuals. According to Kounios, there is no questioning the fact that neurofeedback is effective and that it helps modify and improve brain patterns.
These two studies have been complemented and verified by Dutch scientists who compiled and analyzed several international studies proving that ADHD can be used to reduce inattention and impulsiveness.
How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?
Neurofeedback works on the premise “retraining your brain to function properly.” The whole point of ADHD neurofeedback is to teach your brain how to generate new wave patterns that are linked to focus and concentration. Individuals are hooked up to a laptop using wires and sensors, and the laptop records their brainwave activity. These brain sensors are non-invasive with no electrical current flowing through the body. The sensors simply record the brainwaves coming from the brain. Feedback from these brainwaves are prominently displayed on the doctor’s monitor.
When these new brain wave patterns are generated, common symptoms such as distractibility and impulsivity, are decreased. The efficiency of this ADHD treatment depends on completing all the recommended neurofeedback sessions, with the positive results you achieve over the treatment sessions being permanent. While neurofeedback may sound complex, the process itself is actually very practical and even fun!
The first step is to visit a qualified neurofeedback clinic. All neurofeedback begins with a Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG) evaluation. The QEEG is an assessment tool designed to objectively and scientifically evaluate a person’s brainwave patterns. The next step involves the patient sitting down and closing their eyes while a cap filled with electrodes is placed on their head. Next, the patient is asked to perform a number of different cognitive tasks.
The results of these activities are then rendered as a color-coded map on a display screen. This color maps help identify the areas of the brain where there is too much or too little brain wave activity. This feedback is the primary source of your ADHD treatment and allows the clinician to offer a fully customized therapy plan for each individual patient. This digital map of your brain is essential for comparing your brain wave patterns with those of other adults who have natural or more normalized wave patterns than those with ADHD. This assessment procedure allows the doctor to determine, in objectively and in a scientific manner, whether a client’s brainwave patterns are different from normal.
Once the preliminary process is completed, each additional training session will consist of you sitting in front of a video screen where you have to perform specific functions. The type of activity you will conduct depends on the protocols the neurofeedback software suggests with the overall goal to ensure that the brain-wave activity is consistently progressing and being stimulated adequately.
Adult ADHD is a serious problem as it affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of adults globally. While drugs and medications can provide some assistance, the results are temporary. And the side effects may lead to serious health issues. Neurofeedback experts are excited about the prospects of treating more adults with ADHD with this non-invasive and safe alternative treatment method. It will only be a matter of time before this neurofeedback therapy replaces medications as the preferred treatment option for ADHD.
To treat Adult ADHD without medication, give us a call at (801) 649-4445, fill out the form to schedule an appointment, or visit our Adult ADHD clinic today!