Neurofeedback: The Happiness "Pill" for ADD, Autism, Depression and More

By Cristina Wood, M.A., M.F.T., Los Angeles Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback has been known as a non-invasive treatment with successful results for problems related to ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum and addictions. It helps the brain to regulate itself in a way that the person treated is able to overcome whatever the deficit she/he has. Teddy Bear with wheelchair love shirt on.

Sometimes my clients come to me and ask, "Do you have any pills for Happiness?" Most of the time we both laugh and talk about our dreams of making it happen. How great would be if we could just take a pill and feel happy? We could go through our day facing challenges and problems keeping the happiness state 24/7. Nothing would make us feel discouraged, angry, inappropriate or sad.

Our brain has an emergency system that activates very specialized chemicals when we are experiencing stressful situations. It is like the smoke detector in your house. When it senses smoke, it immediately ignites and releases that sound announcing that it is time for you to get out of the house to be safe. You leave the house, the fire department comes and takes care of the problem and the system goes back to its normal state until the next time it senses smoke again.

Christina Wood Bio

When we perceive certain situations as dangerous or threatening, the brain releases chemicals to prepare our bodies to fight or fly the same way our ancestors used to do when facing a lion. It is not bad when it happens the same way as the smoke detector where, as soon as the problem is resolved, we can get back to our normal state. Stress is beneficial when we are able to take the necessary actions to resolve the problem we are facing at the moment and get back to our normal state after that. We actually need a certain amount of stress to be motivated to take actions. But what happens if you are not able to simply relax for a while until the next challenge comes? What happens if you are in a constant pressure moment throughout your day every day?

When we are locked inside ourselves with feelings and emotions generated by chronic stress, anxiety, depression and trauma, it is very difficult for us to believe and understand that we can live our lives fully. It is almost as if we are living in this limbo with no hope for a better future. We are inundated with feelings of profound sadness and pain. It seems that there is nothing we can do to make it better.

In their book Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, authorities on the science of happiness, stated that there are some essential components of true wealth, they are:

·      Life satisfaction and happiness
·      Spirituality and meaning of life
·      Positive attitudes and emotions
·      Loving social relationships
·      Engaging activities and work
·      Values and life goals to achieve them
·      Physical and mental health
·      Material sufficiency to meet our needs

How close can we get to these essential components of true wealth when we are feeling depressed, or anxious or hopeless? How close can we get to these essential components if we are experiencing Irritability, irregular sleep patterns, decreased energy, a change in appetite, difficulty thinking and concentrating? How close can we get there if we are having nightmares or flashbacks?

It is a very difficult task and most of the time we need to resort to a pill. This pill will not give us happiness but certainly will help us to feel better. The problem with medication is that eventually your body begins to build tolerance to it and it stops working. Then for a while, you find yourself jumping from one medication to the next in the hope that you will get your life back.

Neurofeedback for ADHD

Medication is trying to regulate brain functioning, so that it can work at optimal levels once again. Unfortunately, the change is not long lasting. What if there was a way to regulate brain physiology without building tolerance? What if you could restore your brain's functioning to its healthiest capacity? And what if this change lasted and your body never built tolerance? What if I say all of this is possible?

It really is! Neurofeedback is the answer and has produced successful results for problems related to ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum and addictions. The "stressed brain" does not present healthy brain wave patterns. It gets "stuck" in unproductive and irregular patterns that keep repeating themselves. Neurofeedback is in essence a work out for the brain. It seeks to change and strengthen healthy brain wave patterns by presenting it with stimuli that challenge its deregulated patterns. Research has shown that hyperactivity of the right prefrontal cortex is related to negative mood and avoidance behavior. Neurofeedback addresses this imbalance head on, giving you the tools you need to surmount it for good!

The process begins with tests, a thorough understanding of the symptoms within the context of an individual's medical and psychological history and a treatment plan. At each session, sensors attached to the patients scalp will record and analyze brainwaves. In real time, this information is sent to the system in the computer that feeds this information back to the brain through the images and sounds (visual and auditory feedback) in the monitor and vibration of the bear (kinesthetic feedback), rewarding the brain for any positive changes happening in the wave patterns. Simply put, it is a way to harness the brain's own self-regulatory mechanism to achieve optimal function. All this happens while the patient is simply watching a movie or playing a video game.

In sum, when treated with Neurofeedback a person presenting symptoms such as lack of concentration, difficulties to focus on the tasks and finish what he/she started, defiant and aggressive behavior, constant emotional reactivity, lack of social skill, Irritability, irregular sleep patterns, decreased energy, change in appetite, difficulty thinking and concentrating, nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and others can have a long lasting results recovering from his/her problems and live fulfilling lives.

For more on Nuerofeedback, visit


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