In the past, medication has been the standard first-line treatment for most mental health issues. However, unlike other health concerns, professionals treating mental health conditions rarely actually get to look at the brain to diagnose and treat.

Instead, a patient typically fills out questionnaires and goes through physical, external examinations which culminate in subjective diagnosis and often being prescribed medications that are proposed as the solution.

Dr. Daniel Amen, American physician, psychiatrist, professor, and author, writes on his website, in the article “It’s Insane Not To Look At The Brain”:

“Did you know that psychiatrists are the ONLY medical specialists who rarely look at the organ they treat? Psychiatrists today still diagnose and manage conditions the same way they did back when Abraham Lincoln was being treated for depression: conduct a brief interview, quickly assess the symptoms, form a diagnosis based on those symptoms and then prescribe a high-powered medication. This method makes the patient a guinea pig and often does more harm than good since many medications come with adverse side effects.”

There’s a Better Way to Improve Your Brain

This old method of treating mental health conditions is slowly falling out of favor as newer and better options are researched and adopted. Neurofeedback is one of those better alternatives. It has been in use since the 1950s and is a reputable, scientifically proven modality practiced by trained practitioners. Research has confirmed that neurofeedback is an effective treatment for ADHD and ADD.

Neurofeedback is a method of pinpointing and correcting mental health and brain issues at the root cause in your brain, permanently and without medication. It is a specialized form of biofeedback therapy, where people learn to influence their body’s autonomic nervous system at a subconscious level to consistently alter their own brainwaves.

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, painless, drug-free way to teach the brain healthier ways to function, including optimizing brain wave amplitudes, enhancing connectivity between different parts of the brain, and adjusting the level of activity and responsiveness of specific areas of the brain. The brain learns at a subconscious level to create permanent changes that last after the training session.

What ADHD Looks Like in Your Brain

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a neurological disorder that causes a range of behavior problems such as difficulty attending to instruction, focusing on school or work, completing tasks, and interacting socially. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder in which a person is unable to control their behavior because of difficulty processing information in the brain, accompanied by an extremely high level of motor activity.

Despite what well-meaning grandparents and others may believe, both conditions are not caused by poor parenting, family problems, bad teachers, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. Instead, they are due to biological and genetic factors that influence neurotransmitter activity in certain parts of the brain. For example, brain images of children with ADHD show that parts of their brains are smaller and less active with an excess of delta and theta waves and a deficit of beta waves. ADHD is associated with abnormally low levels of the neurotransmitters transmitting between the prefrontal cortical area and the basal ganglia. Specifically affected are dopamine and noradrenaline, which regulate attention, mood, and behavior. Allison Kravit, Psy.D., ADD explains it using a traffic intersection analogy:

“Imagine hundreds of cars approaching an intersection that has no traffic light or stop sign. This is what happens to the ADHD brain every day where the prefrontal cortex (the intersection) is unable to properly regulate your various thoughts and feelings (the various cars approaching the intersection).”

Specifically, the ADHD brain has altered activity in four primary functional regions:

  1. Frontal CortexThis area controls high-level functions:
    • attention
    • executive function
    • organization
  2. Limbic SystemThis region is located deep within your brain and regulates emotions, attention, and the stress response.
  3. Basal GangliaA malfunction here can cause inter-brain communication & information to “short-circuit” resulting in inattention or impulsivity.
  4. Reticular Activating System
    This is the major relay system among the many pathways that enter & leave the brain. An impairment here can cause inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.

Both ADD and ADHD are usually present in childhood but are often mistaken as personality traits and go undiagnosed. As you may know, all too well, some children with these issues can have learning disabilities, behavioral or mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and problems with planning, memory, schoolwork, motor skills, social skills, sleep, and control of emotions.

How Neurofeedback Therapy Works for ADHD

Neurofeedback training for ADHD, or any mental health and brain condition, starts with an EEG brain map. At Grey Matters, we use a qEEG, which lets us look at brain wave activity and provides an analysis of it. From the brain map, our specialists can precisely pinpoint the brain areas not functioning optimally causing the ADHD symptoms. We, then, create a customized plan to train those specific areas in the brain to operate at healthier levels.

Brain waves vary in size and frequency, and some studies have found that people with ADHD tend to have a greater ratio of theta waves to beta waves. An overabundance of theta waves is associated with a lack of focus and restlessness. Studies confirm that neurofeedback training can increase the production of beta waves and diminish the frequency of delta and theta waves to produce an observable reduction in ADHD symptoms in as little as eight weeks.

Other research tested and compared the effectiveness of neurofeedback and the medication methylphenidate on ADHD. Both neurofeedback and methylphenidate were both effective in improving inattention and there was no statistically significant difference between the two. Medication does tend to produce benefits faster, but treatment must be ongoing. When the medication is stopped, any improvements stop. Neurofeedback benefits accrue over time and persist after training ends.

Medications Come with Concerns for Youth

Parents and individuals are turning to neurofeedback for ADHD for several reasons. Medications do not work for many children. Often, the treatment plan for ADHD goes beyond medication and requires family effort, school cooperation, psychoeducation, and behavioral interventions. It is not only difficult to coordinate all of these moving parts, but it can also provide less than desired outcomes when any one area’s participation is insufficient.

According to WebMD, the side effects of the long-term use of ADHD medications include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Heart disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Abuse and addiction
  • Skin discoloration

In addition to the possible long-term effects, children who take ADHD medication are also at higher risk of developing vitamin deficiencies. Many of the medicines prescribed for ADHD suppress appetite, leading individuals to eat less throughout the day. Some vitamin deficiencies are linked to other mental illnesses, diseases, and allergies. Neurofeedback doesn’t have any documented dangerous or long-lasting negative side effects.


Stop medicating and start making brain changes!

Most mental health conditions begin in your brain and can be resolved there. Neurofeedback can teach any brain to function more optimally.

Neurofeedback successfully improves the symptoms of ADHD and many other conditions, including depression, autism, brain injuries, OCD, stroke recovery, PTSD, addictions, seizure disorders, migraines, chronic pain, and more. By fine-tuning the brain’s performance, neurofeedback can also improve focus and concentration. For example, neurofeedback brain training could improve a person’s performance at school, golf or other sports, or at work.

A better brain and a better you are possible.

At Grey Matters, we are passionate about helping people live their best lives. Send a message or call us today at (317) 215-7208 to talk about how we can help you.