A Guide to an Alternative to Medication


Every day, thousands of parents all over the world get the news that their child has been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Naturally, this can be alarming news. While many parents will be relieved that there is now an explanation for their children’s symptoms, it also means that decisions about treatments now need to be made. 

With different treatment options available, both medicated and non-medicated, it can be confusing for parents to know which way to turn. Here, we look at what having ADHD means for children and how the different treatment options can affect their lives.

We also look at one treatment, neurofeedback therapy for ADHD, in depth and explore its distinct benefits. Read on to find out more. 

Living with ADHD

You might be surprised to learn just how common ADHD is. Around 1 in 10 children are believed to be affected. The most recent figures from the US estimate that 9.4% and over 6 million American children have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point. These figures come from a parent survey published in 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. 

As you are probably already aware, everyday life for children diagnosed with ADHD can be difficult. Although symptoms vary from child to child, they may have difficulty:

  • Controlling outbursts and/or mood swings
  • Being organized and ordered
  • Controlling restlessness
  • Completing tasks
  • Avoiding distractions

Children with ADHD will experience the above in varying degrees. Some children may find their everyday home lives, life in the classroom or coping with extracurricular activities very challenging. If this is the case, you may want to seek treatment to help them manage their symptoms and make life easier.  

What are the treatment options for children with ADHD?

Treatments available for children with ADHD can be categorized into medicated and non-medicated. Some children are treated in one way and not the other, whereas others use a combination of medication and non-medicated therapies.

Medicated treatments

Many parents use the medicated route for their children. There are several different drugs available worldwide and your doctor will be able to advise which specific medication is available for your child. 

Many are stimulants, which means that they increase activity levels in the brain, particularly the areas that control attention and behavior. ADHD medications are not a permanent cure but can help children manage their symptoms. They will work while the child is routinely taking their medication. Treatment breaks are periodically recommended to check that medication is still effective and needed. 

Like all medications, ADHD drugs have potential side effects. These vary from drug to drug, but they may include changes to appetite, dizziness or drowsiness. Side effects are definitely something to discuss with your child’s doctor before you decide on the right course of treatment. 

Non-medicated treatments

Many parents prefer to choose a non-medicated route or a combination of both types of treatment. 

Sometimes talking therapies are offered, such as behavior therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This might be individual therapy, or therapy in a group setting. 

Biofeedback treatments are also used. Neurofeedback therapy is a non-invasive therapy that can address the symptoms of ADHD. This is a non-medicated treatment that is proven to help children manage their ADHD symptoms. To learn more about it, read on. 

What is neurofeedback therapy?

Neurofeedback therapy is a form of brain training. Therapists use EEG equipment to monitor your child’s brainwaves. They do this while your child sits and relaxes, watching their favorite show or playing a video game. This is a very pleasant and comfortable situation and not invasive at all.

The therapy works by giving the brain positive feedback; every time the child’s brain does something right, the reward is a clearer picture and sound. You can think of neurofeedback as fun exercise for the brain. Over a number of sessions, this will train the brain to focus better. 

Neurofeedback therapy always follows an in-depth assessment that will identify the brain’s existing strengths and weaknesses. After around 20 sessions, parents will have found that the child’s ADHD symptoms will have reduced dramatically. 

Also read: ADHD Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Why does ADHD neurofeedback therapy work?  

Neurofeedback and biofeedback therapies for ADHD are based on very thorough scientific research and have proven benefits. The real time feedback the brain receives reinforces the healthy brain function and teaches it to self-regulate its own behavior.  

The reason it works is explained very well in the article “Closed-loop brain training: the science of neurofeedback,” published in Nature Reviews: Neuroscience in 2016: “Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback in which neural activity is measured and presented through one or more sensory channels to the participant in real time to facilitate self-regulation of the putative neural substrates that underlie a particular behavior or pathology.” 

It goes on to say, “Neurofeedback training results in specific neural changes relevant to the trained brain circuit and the associated behavioral changes.” 

Neurofeedback therapy is very effective and long-lasting. At Evolve Brain Training clinic in Dubai, clients reach their goals 95% of the time. Parents frequently report improved focus and concentration for their children. 

For more information on the science-backed benefits of neurofeedback, you could look up the research paper by Coenan A. et al (2009) titled “Efficiency of Neurofeedback Training in ADHD: The Effects on Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity: a Meta-Analysis.” The conclusion here is that “…neurofeedback treatment for ADHD can be considered ‘Efficacious and Specific’… with a large ES (effect size) for inattention and impulsivity and a medium ES for hyperactivity.”

A summary of the advantages of neurofeedback therapy

All treatments for ADHD should be researched thoroughly and expert advice specific to your child must be sought from qualified professionals. Neurofeedback therapy is recommended to parents who would prefer a non-medicated approach to coping with ADHD symptoms.

Here’s a summary of its benefits: 

  • Long-term positive results
  • Non-invasive
  • An enjoyable treatment for children
  • No harmful side effects
  • Recommended for children over the age of six (and adults)

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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