Recent Research Shows Neurofeedback as an Efficacious Treatment for ADHD with Sustained Results at 12-Month Follow Up, and Efficacious for Treating Anxiety
BALTIMORE – BrainFutures’ latest report that outlines a clear case for neurofeedback (NFB) as an efficacious treatment for ADHD and symptoms of anxiety has gained the endorsements of three of the most notable international professional associations in the discipline, including: the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA), and the International Society for Neuroregulation & Research (ISNR).
The report, Neurofeedback: An Efficacious Treatment for Behavioral Health, features an in-depth, evidence-based review of NFB as a treatment for ADHD and symptoms of anxiety. In the past 20 years, numerous studies, including large meta-analyses, have confirmed NFB treatment as effective for these and other behavioral health conditions. BrainFutures’ paper overviews the history and application of neurofeedback and explores the most recent research. It has been called “simply an outstanding summary of the science, the effectiveness, and the physiology of neurofeedback training” by Joseph Maroon, MD, Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery and Heindl Scholar in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Behavioral health issues are at epidemic proportions in the U.S., with more that 10% of all children and teens diagnosed with ADHD, close to 25% reporting some form of anxiety, and 64% percent of children diagnosed with ADHD also reporting at least one additional behavioral or mental health disorder. Studies have found that childhood ADHD-related behavioral and social challenges often persist into adulthood, potentially leading to substance abuse and lower life outcomes overall.
Carefully reviewing the available research, the report shows NFB as a treatment for ADHD is both efficacious and specific; studies also show that after NFB treatment ends, improvements continue for up to 12 months. For many children, NFB could be an excellent first-line intervention, especially in those with co-occurring behavioral health issues. This means NFB may be delivered as a standalone treatment for ADHD, or as a powerful adjunct to medication.
The report also explores using NFB to address symptoms of stress- and adjustment-related disorders, particularly anxiety, and finds researched protocols to be efficacious at treating anxiety. This comes at a time when, due to COVID-19 and surrounding circumstances, anxiety is climbing to all-time highs in the U.S. Prior to COVID-19, 20% of Americans reported having some form of anxiety, yet only 37% of these individuals were getting treatment of any kind.
“This is a critically important time to make efficacious treatments for behavioral health conditions available to all Americans, and in particular school-aged children who are in need of affordable, accessible treatments and supports,” said BrainFutures’ CEO, Linda Raines.
Treatment for behavioral health is disproportionately under-covered by most insurance companies across the country, despite the fact that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)—which requires group health plans with mental health and substance use disorder benefits to offer equal coverage for these disorders as they do for medical/surgical benefits—first passed in 2008 with final regulations in place since 2014. The report encourages insurance providers to come into compliance with the MHPAEA and more broadly adopt NFB as a reimbursable, efficacious, non-pharmacological treatment for ADHD and anxiety. The report’s overview of the neurofeedback evidence base can also help healthcare providers determine if NFB may be appropriate for their patients.
“More than twelve years after the passage of the Parity Act [MHPAEA], there still exists a wide disparity in health care spending between behavioral health care and medical/surgical health care treatments, with behavioral health conditions chronically undertreated,” said Henry Harbin, behavioral health consultant and former CEO of Magellan Health. “There is a critical need to increase access to innovative treatments like neurofeedback, and insurance reimbursement is an important step towards making that happen.”
Neurofeedback: An Efficacious Treatment for Behavioral Health reports on the state of relevant behavioral health conditions, the research that supports NFB for such conditions, and addresses concerns and questions about NFB by detailing how it works. A series of appendices offer in-depth explanations of brainwaves, treatment protocols and other scientific information.
Visit BrainFutures’ website to read the full report and access an in-depth review of evidence in support of NFB for the treatment of ADHD and symptoms of anxiety.
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BrainFutures is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to assessing and advancing the practical application of neuroscience research to maximize human potential. Breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain have the potential to improve learning outcomes for children, maintain sharp thinking as we age, optimize functioning at work, and enhance treatment for a mental health or substance use problem. Since 2015, BrainFutures has provided rigorous analyses of new brain health research to share how advances can positively affect all areas of life. To learn more about BrainFutures, please visit www.brainfutures.org