There are many alternatives to medications when it comes to treating cognitive disorders. Whether or not they work is to be determined. Neurofeedback is a fairly new method of treatment also known as "brain training" in which the brain is re-trained to focus. This method is being used to treat ADHD in children and adults, and depression in adults. The goal is that patients can maintain a healthy lifestyle at home, work, and school without depending on medications.
First, the patient's brain is mapped using an EEG machine, creating a base line of neural connections. Through a series of sessions, the patient wears the EEG head gear while completing tasks that require concentration. When a certain level of concentration is reached, the patient experiences a reward that might be a pleasant sound or a reward on the game. The game, is just how it sounds--a video game. It's easy for children to enjoy during many sessions, and it requires concentration to achieve rewards. Through this process, it's thought that the brain is "trained" to feel concentration and create a positive experience during moments of focus.
Pros and Cons of Alternative Treatments
The goal of neurofeedback to treat ADHD and other cognitive disorders without drugs. Medications that treat these conditions can be expensive, so it can save you money in the long-run to invest in alternative treatments like neurofeedback. This "brain training" is quite costly, however. Not only are the sessions themselves expensive, but there are extreme risks when attempting to stop taking important medications. Neurofeedback has shown results over time, but stopping an ADHD or antidepressant medication can have serious consequences.
Treatments that Work
Medication - ADHD, anxiety, and depression have traditionally been treated using medications that affect chemicals in the brain to lessen symptoms. The benefits of these medications likely outweigh the side effects and work over time.
Therapy - Occupational therapy and other behavioral therapies are used along with medications to treat ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Counseling can help patients deal with stress and other symptoms, including side effects of the medications.
Diet and Exercise - A healthy lifestyle that includes a regular exercise regimen and healthy nutrition plan can lessen symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Many patients choose to restrict certain foods to lessen symptoms, including caffeine and dyes. Regular exercise can release endorphins that boost the mood, improve focus, and lessen sleep problems.
When you're considering treatment options for yourself or your family, make sure to involve your support system and your physician. Even alternative methods, no matter how promising, should be discussed with your doctor.