Common features of ADHD include impulsivity, distractibility, beginning tasks but not finishing them, lack of organization and oppositional defiance disorder. There are also positive features of ADD/HD that are often not appreciated: the ability to think “outside the box”, creativity, youthfulness, and a lot of energy.
Clients often report increased clarity, less distractibility, and better organization. Overall there appears to be less of a struggle. “[Neurofeedback], in the long term management of ADHD provides a sustained effect even without stimulant treatment… Parents interested in non-psychopharmacologic treatment can pursue the use of complementary and alternative therapy. The therapy most promising by recent clinical trials appears to be [neurofeedback]” (Daley, 2016).
Anxiety can be seen as a milder form of fear. Anxiety is also a chronic over-arousal of the autonomic nervous system; it is an expression of the classic “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system. Neurofeedback, by diminishing the flight or fight response, lets the brain and body relax, allowing the nervous system to “reset” itself.
It is estimated that one in every five adults will have at least one episode of major depression in their lifetime, but depression comes in many forms. At one extreme end of the spectrum is severe clinical depression. Characteristics include profound despair, hopelessness, and the complete inability to take pleasure in anything. Severe depression may also cause cognitive confusion, memory loss, the inability to make simple decisions, and even forgetting where you are going after starting the car. At the other end of the depression spectrum are people who are “mildly” depressed, or “dysthymic”, on a long-term, chronic basis. They may function well in the world, but feel uninspired and unfulfilled; that they are not living up to their potential. Like severely depressed patients, dysthymics are prone to persistent negative thinking, endless recrimination, and repetitive rumination.
Neurofeedback works directly with the nervous system. Mild forms of depression typically remit quickly, with substantial changes usually seen within the first few sessions. Clients report feeling better, having fewer negative thoughts, less self-recrimination and much less self-blame. They isolate less and begin to have more energy and hope.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by a lack of appropriate eye contact, facial expression, social interaction, communication, and restricted repetitive behavior. Research on autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) shows that neurofeedback can lead to less struggle and overall better functioning.
“In one 2006 study using neurofeedback, there was a 40 percent reduction in autistic symptoms, better coordination between the brain and behavior, and less hyper-connectivity. Neurofeedback participants showed significant improvements in sociability, communication, overall health, and sensory awareness compared with controls. Neurofeedback can reduce autistic symptoms.” (Child Adolesc Psychiatric Clin N Am 14, Jan. 2005).
Virtually all children with ASD have significant attention deficits and often impulsivity. Neurofeedback aids in these specific areas of dysfunction—attention and executive function deficits, anxiety, obsessive/compulsive symptoms, and mood.