Can neurofeedback be used while a patient is on medication?

Typically, over half of people who start neurofeedback are taking medication.Clients can easily start brain training whether or not they take medicine.

As the brain begins to better regulate and improves in functioning, many people find they reduce meds or stop them altogether. It’s important that clinicians work closely with a client’s doctor so signs of overmedication are discovered, and clients can receive help to safely titrate their meds as their brain improves. An informal survey of about 150 healthcare professionals reported that more than half the clients reduced or even eliminated medications.

Examples of Medication Reduction

medication and neurofeedbackExample: a 42-year-old female began neurofeedback while  having been prescribed four medications for five years to treat depression. After 40 neurofeedback sessions, in conjunction with her physician, she had reduced to one medication at a lower dose, with improved mood and affect.

Example: A large psychiatric practice in North Carolina used neurofeedback successfully with over 30 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Most had been on medications for many years and had been hospitalized up to several times in a year.

The Clinical Director, a neuropsychologist, reported that all patients except one who had received more than 20 neurofeedback sessions were able to reduce their medications and became more stable. For that population, he also reported that “maintenance sessions” of one or two neurofeedback sessions each month were required.

How Do I Know If I Can Reduce Meds?

There is no way to predict medication changes. The theory about reducing dosages is that as the brain becomes more activated during training, it works more efficiently. The same dosage seems to have a stronger effect on a more efficient brain, and thus reduction may be required.

Not every client’s medications are affected. For some patients, neurofeedback seems to act synergistically with medications, allowing the medications to achieve a better response or stabilizing medications. Neurofeedback is complementary to other treatment approaches and may help them be more effective.