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What Are the Benefits of Biofeedback for ADD?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 17, 2024
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Benefits of biofeedback for attention deficit disorder (ADD) include lower levels of restlessness, improved concentration, and better control of impulsive behaviors. Biofeedback is a concentrated technique of gaining mental control over various physical processes such as breathing rates, heartbeat, and even brain wave patterns. People who try biofeedback for ADD often do so as an alternative to taking medications for this condition. They may find the uses of biofeedback a better choice due to the side effects of such medicines. The process of biofeedback therapy frequently involves the use of a medical device that measures brain wave patterns so that patients can see which of the patterns need to be altered through various self-healing exercises.

Mental health professionals who treat ADD often note that sufferers' brain wave patterns are closer to those of sleep rather than alert wakefulness. One of the first steps of using biofeedback for ADD is an assessment of precisely how much these patterns differ from those of people without ADD. A biofeedback therapist often uses a device that measures brain waves through electrodes attached to a patient's head. The typical session entails the patient learning specific breathing and concentration exercises to bring erratic brain waves closer to a baseline pattern. This type of exercise can help relieve the feelings of mental restlessness that make paying sustained attention difficult for ADD sufferers.

Biofeedback for ADD can also make focused concentration easier as long as patients are consistent with their regular practice of assigned mental exercises. Much of the work for biofeedback is done at home, as well as in the therapist's office or clinic. A therapist will usually assign an ADD patient tasks to perform in between sessions, which can include meditation, visualization of certain images, or breathing exercises. The positive results of these exercises can help patients gain better control over their brain waves when they are connected to the biofeedback device.

ADD sufferers who learn uses of biofeedback often feel fewer urges to switch tasks impulsively or make snap decisions without completely considering the possible outcomes. These behaviors are relatively common traits of ADD, and they can be frequent sources of mental stress. Biofeedback for ADD can teach ADD patients how to recognize subtle physiological changes that they may not have been able to perceive before learning this kind of therapeutic technique. Recognizing these changes is often the most important step in using biofeedback for ADD to reverse these kinds of unproductive impulses.

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Discussion Comments
By ZipLine — On May 31, 2014

Biofeedback works for ADD. But it's important to work with a therapist who is patient and willing to try alternative therapies in addition.

My nephew receives biofeedback therapy and it has benefited him greatly. He is doing better in school, and he is calmer in general. He goes to his biofeedback sessions without fail every week. The therapist also assigns some relaxation techniques to do at home. In addition, my nephew is being taught learning techniques so that he can do better in school.

His therapist says that ADD is a stress disorder and biofeedback works because it reduces stress.

By stoneMason — On May 30, 2014

@bluedolphin-- I think it would be best to ask these questions to an experienced biofeedback therapist.

I'm not an expert but I know two people who have used biofeedback for ADD in their children. Biofeedback worked very well for one child but it did not do much for the other one. So I don't think that biofeedback for ADD is equally effective for everyone. And I also think that it might still be necessary to support the therapy with medications. I guess it depends on the individual, the severity of the ADD and other factors.

By bluedolphin — On May 30, 2014

My son has ADD and he experiences many side effects from the medications. I want him to try biofeedback but is this therapy as effective as medication? Can we replace medication with biofeedback?

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