Why consider neurofeedback for ADHD as an option to medications?
Some of my clients just prefer a non-medication solution. Others don’t feel like themselves on medication, or medications don’t work well.
A joint 2014 study by researchers at Princeton, Cornell, and the University of Toronto looked at whether increases in the use of medications for children with ADHD improved emotional functioning and academic outcomes.
The results showed that there were few positive effects and that there may have been harmful effects. Here is the abstract (brief summary) of the study:
We examine the effects of a policy change in the province of Quebec, Canada which greatly expanded insurance coverage for prescription medications. We show that the change was associated with a sharp increase in the use of stimulant medications commonly prescribed for ADHD in Quebec relative to the rest of Canada. We ask whether this increase in medication use was associated with improvements in emotional functioning or academic outcomes among children with ADHD. We find little evidence of improvement in either the medium or the long run. Our results are silent on the effects on optimal use of medication for ADHD, but suggest that expanding medication in a community setting had little positive benefit and may have had harmful effects given the average way these drugs are used in the community.
Not very encouraging about the use of medication for ADHD. Specifically, the researchers found that the increased use of medication in Quebec – compared to the rest of Canada – resulted in a higher likelihood of children repeating grades, reduced math scores and a poorer relationship with their parents. Not what these families had in mind, I imagine.
The longer term results were also not good. You can read the full study, Do stimulant medications improve educational and behavioral outcomes for children with ADHD? if you would like more details.
Quebec, as in the US, does not require doctors to be trained in ADHD treatment to prescribe the drugs, so it’s possible that the medications may not have been appropriately prescribed or followed. It’s possible that the study results would have been more positive if this were not the case.
Nevertheless, what I often hear from clients who have come to us after trying medication is some variation of this: “Medication helps my symptoms but my brain doesn’t learn anything. With neurofeedback my brain learns.”
If you want an option to medication, consider neurofeedback for ADHD. I’ve seen very good results with adults who have come in for problems with focus and concentration, and my colleagues who work with children report the same.
Please contact me if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment. If you are not in the New York area, you can search for a trainer near you in the NeurOptimal® Find a Trainer database.
Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback