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Effectiveness of ADHD treatment methods in adults examined
Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) are primarily known as childhood illnesses, but also a not inconsiderable number of adults suffer from the symptoms. They can be helped in different ways. In a current study, psychologists from the University of Tübingen examined which forms of therapy are best suited here.
In addition to medication, behavioral therapy approaches are particularly promising for the treatment of ADHD in adults. Methods such as so-called neurofeedback training are viewed rather critically. With good reason if you follow the results of the current study. Because behavioral therapy group training is significantly less complex and overall more efficient than neurofeedback training. The results of the study were published in the specialist journal "The Lancet Psychiatry".
ADHD in adulthood
ADHD begins in childhood and adolescence, but can persist in up to 60 percent of cases in adulthood and lead to difficulties in both professional and private life, the researchers report. The patients were affected by symptoms such as impulsiveness, low stress tolerance, inner restlessness and exaggeration. In addition, according to the experts, "there are often difficulties in planning and organization as well as the inability to concentrate on one thing for a long time and bring it to a conclusion."
Different ADHD therapies compared
The symptoms can be remedied relatively well with medication, but the medication in turn entails the risk of serious side effects. Comparable treatment successes are also reported for non-pharmacological forms of therapy, which Tübingen psychologists together with scientists from Bamberg, Bayreuth and Budapest have now taken a closer look at. For this purpose, the effects of so-called neurofeedback training, placebo neurofeedback training (participants did not get their own brain waves reported back) and a behavioral therapy group program were compared. In the latter, specific strategies for action planning, improved time management and stress management techniques were practiced.
Effects on ADHD symptoms examined
A total of 18 adults with ADHD symptoms participated in the study. One group received either 30 neurofeedback training sessions or 15 placebo neurofeedback sessions over a 15-week period, followed by 15 neurofeedback sessions. Another group received 12 sessions of behavioral therapy group therapy over a period of 12 weeks, reports the University of Tübingen. The effects on the symptoms of AHDS were determined, among other things, on the basis of objective tests on the ability to concentrate and an analysis of the underlying brain flow patterns at four measuring points (first before the intervention began, the last six months after the end of the training).
Neurofeedback training rather controversial
According to the researchers, neurofeedback has been a matter of controversy since its introduction because the effects have remained unclear. The aim of the procedure is to teach patients how to influence their brain waves in a targeted manner and thus to reduce symptoms. Earlier studies had convincingly shown that ADHD symptoms actually decrease after such training. However, according to the researchers, it remained controversial "whether the improvement can actually be attributed to the specific effect of the training or whether it should rather be attributed to the effect of non-specific placebo effects." Such a new method must also measure itself, at least with the known behavior therapy methods can.
Behavior therapy group training clearly superior
In the current study, the researchers came to the conclusion that "the effects of neurofeedback intervention were not superior to those of placebo training." Both methods had shown an effect on ADHD, but no specific effect of neurofeedback on brain waves was detectable. In terms of the effects on the symptoms, neurofeedback does not achieve better results than behavioral therapy group training, says project leader Dr. Michael Schönenberg from Eberhard Karls University Tübingen. Behavioral therapy group training also requires much less effort. Fewer sessions are required, group training can take place instead of individual training and there are no additional costs for the acquisition and maintenance of the technical requirements.
"The results of our study show that behavioral therapy approaches are very effective and efficient in the treatment of ADHD symptoms in adulthood," reports Dr. Schoeneberg. Before other methods of therapy can be recommended, they should first prove their superiority over standard behavioral therapy methods, the study director concluded. (fp)