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Mirasol's Secret Weapon for ADD/ADHD Treatment

The statistics reported currently propose that as many as 13% of all children up to the age of 17, have ADD or ADHD. The number is increasing. This does not include the number of adults with the disorder. The CDC says that as many as 8% of all adults present with ADD or ADHD.

Importance of Accurate Diagnosis

NICABM is now suggesting that some children may be getting misdiagnosed with ADHD rather than with PTSD or another trauma-related disorder. A child's hyper-arousal and cognitive difficulties could easily pass as symptoms for ADHD if the treatment provider did not know to look for signs of trauma.

Children can heal from PTSD, but only if they are receiving the correct treatment.

The mistake may be made more frequently than we think, as many disorders have similar symptoms to PTSD.

Diagnoses of ADHD are frequently made too quickly. The mother recites the list of symptoms and the doctor hands over a prescription. However a quick fix solution overlooks other problems that the individual may have such as --trauma, dyslexia, or mental illness--all of which can look like ADHD and all of which can, in turn, be missed entirely and go untreated.

Nancy Rappaport of the Huffington Post suggests that a physician work with the parents, teachers, and the patient to determine if the child has experienced trauma or has trouble focusing because of ADHD. The symptoms can look the same: the hyperactivity, the disorganized approach, the distraction, the frequent mood changes, the anger, the reactivity.

Bi-polar disorder can overlap quite a bit with ADHD. Both illnesses can share the same symptoms: impulsivity, pressured speech, and difficulty concentrating. Physicians can't be blase about stimulants, and or make snap judgments about ADHD either. Dissociative disorders are often misdiagnosed as ADHD because of the similarity in symptoms.

The individual may have become addicted to alcohol and drugs because they are used frequently to self medicate or to numb the psychic pain.

The bottom line is that each person whether adult or child deserves a balanced, thorough evaluation that allows everyone involved to proceed in a thoughtful way. The thoughtful way is what is found at a leading treatment center such as Mirasol. We work until we get it right for the client.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is an inattentive version of ADHD without the hyperactivity component. Poor concentration, daydreaming, spacing out, and just "out-to-lunch" are phrases commonly used to describe people struggling with this disorder. We need to look at the symptoms from all different sides. As an example, dissociation is a psychological process in which people experiencing acute trauma blank out or go numb, or quite literally shut down. Once the acute trauma is over, some people continue to dissociate when under stress or when re-experiencing the trauma. Something in the person's's environment might trigger the them to dissociate. It could be a sight or smell or a memory triggered by something in the class work or something a peer says. After a dissociative episode, people do not remember (

When someone has ADD or ADHD, they usually have damaged self-esteem and feelings of guilt or shame. In order to compensate for these feelings, they can develop eating disorders or substance abuse, or some kind of other methods to compensate and seek a greater sense of control. They are more likely to struggle in recovery and have a greater risk of relapse.

At Mirasol we do not immediately medicate every woman or girl who comes through the door with ADD or ADHD. We feel it's not appropriate until we have done a brain map and a complete biopsychosocial profile on the client which is then carefully evaluated by Mirasol's highly trained staff.

Every Client is Unique

Every client at Mirasol is viewed as an individual. We do not try to use a one-size fits all approach. Our treatment philosophy is integrative and holistic. We focus on the woman or girl as a whole: spiritually, nutritionally, physically, emotionally, sexually, physiologically, intellectually — in other words the whole person! We carefully look at how co-occurring disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or personality disorders affect the client's ability to manage the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. We help our clients develop skill and confidence in using her recovery skills.

How Does Mirasol Address the Educational Challenges of ADD in School-Age Women or Girls?

Our teachers are in contact with the school at home to find out about the difficulties the woman or girl has had in school because of the ADD/ADHD. We work closely with the school to make sure that the student is able to keep up with the work. Many of our students are even ahead of their classes when they finish treatment.

What Is Mirasol's Secret Weapon against ADD and ADHD?

Neurofeedback, an evidenced-based treatment, is one of the treatments of choice for ADD and ADHD. Not medication. Not Ritalin. Not any medicine that will prove to have significant side effects. Neurofeedback training provided by a knowledgeable and experienced neurofeedback practitioner can heal the condition by teaching the client how to balance her brain wave patterns. It normalizes brain function and treats psychiatric disorders such as OCD, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. These co-occurring disorders are very easily and successfully treated with EEG Biofeedback.

How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Mirasol clients receive a neurofeedback assessment within their first week of treatment. The assessments consist of the TOVA, a test that measures attention, and a brain map. The assessment pinpoints the area/s of the brain and the bandwidth of brain wave deviations.

During neurofeedback training sessions, sensors are placed on the scalp and ear lobes. An EEG biofeedback unit provides instantaneous audio and visual displays of brain wave activity. This "feedback" is what allows the individual to influence and change brain activity. Training is not something that is "done" to the client. It is a skill that a client learns.

Through individualized neurofeedback training, the brain learns to increase or decrease certain brainwave frequencies in order to function most efficiently for the task at hand. The changes are temporary at first but become permanent over time.

How Do We Know It Works?

Many empirical studies exist in the literature and speak of the efficacy of neurofeedback for ADD/ADHD.

In 2009, a study was published in the scientific journal, "EEG and Clinical Neuroscience," showing the empirical research that demonstrated that neurofeedback can indeed be regarded as an evidence-based treatment for ADHD.

In collaboration with researchers from Tubingen University (Germany), Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands), Brainclinics and EEG Resource Institute, a so-called meta-analysis was conducted on all published research about Neurofeedback treatment in ADHD. This meta-analysis included 15 studies and 1194 ADHD patients. Based on this study which was published in the July issue of EEG and Clinical Neuroscience, it was concluded that neurofeedback can indeed be considered an evidence-based treatment for ADHD. The results show that neurofeedback treatment has large and clinically significant effects on impulsivity and inattention and a modest improvement of hyperactivity.

Also in EEG and Clinical Neuroscience, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects about two and a-half million children in the United States. The children are put on medication but FDA says that strong warnings are required on the medication label because of the side effects. But parents are wondering if there will ever be a chemical-free way to help their children. One family has found something that they say has worked for their daughter, Anne. Anne was given three different medications. All three produced side effects, and none of them were effective. They decided to try neurofeedback, using video games that teach the brain to focus and concentrate.

In a game, called glider, the goal is to keep an eagle on a video screen flying up in the air. As Anne concentrated, the bird flew higher. But if Anne talked to someone, or looked away and lost focus, the eagle started to drift down. Dr. James Sendelbach, who uses neurofeedback in his practice, explains that the brain is taught what is to be done.

Anne had 40-minute neurofeedback sessions, twice a week. Dr. Sendelbach says that the number of sessions need to be developed over a period of time and then one can see positive results. After the course of nine months, Anne's behavior and grades are better and she no longer depends on medications. Dr. Sendelbach explains that medication can help to change the situation in a temporary basis but neurofeedback finds a permanent solution.

Another study showed that systematic data collection in a private educational setting produces helpful information that can be used to monitor students' progress and improve programs. Because this clinical work is not a controlled scientific study (lack of control group,) the efficacious treatment components cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the positive outcomes of decreased ADD symptoms plus improved academic and intellectual functioning suggest that the use of neurofeedback plus training in metacognitive strategies is a useful combined intervention for students with ADD.

Neurofeedback has been used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, sequels of stroke and head trauma, emotional, anxiety disorders and depression. Good results of this neurotherapy have been also found in children with ADHD/ ADD, developmental dyslexia, tics and Tourette syndrome, learning difficulties and development disturbances and acquired speech disorders. It has been also used with a success in treatment of headaches, epilepsy and chosen disturbances in cerebral palsy.

How Do Treatment Plans Address ADHD with Co-occurring Disorders?

A long history of ADHD may make a person susceptible to other behavior patterns such as substance abuse and eating disorders. Mirasol's therapists have extensive experience in treating ADHD.

One effective treatment for ADHD in conjunction with neurofeedback is mindfulness. Mindfulness can help an individual learn to be more mindful of feelings, especially when the feelings become overwhelming. Each person needs to be treated: nutritionally, physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. Each client receives training in interpersonal skills, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation skills through DBT.

At Mirasol treatment plans that include treatment for ADHD consider all data received about the resident. Of course neurofeedback will be one of the primary interventions used. We gather together our entire treatment team to customize her care. The complete team approach to customizing treatment including input from the client herself is one of the factors that spotlights the cutting-edge treatment of ADHD, mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders and co-occurring disorders at a world-class treatment center such as Mirasol.

FREE Eating Disorder Support Group!

FREE weekly eating disorder support group for adults struggling with food issues, staffed by therapists from Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers. Thursdays from 5:30-6:45 pm at 3116 N Swan in Tucson. For more information, call 888-520-1700.

"Mirasol is light years ahead of any other program in the country."