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Neurofeedback Side Effects, Adverse Reactions, & Dangers

Neurofeedback is a training technique that helps you learn how to consciously change the electrical activity (brain waves) in your brain.  All electrical oscillations influence your state of consciousness, arousal, and ability to function.  Neurofeedback is based on the idea that many individuals, particularly those with psychological conditions (e.g. ADHD) have suboptimal brain waves in certain regions.

The goal is to target the suboptimal brain wave production in specific regions and correct them.  In other words, someone with an inability to concentrate may experience excess slow waves (theta waves) in their prefrontal cortex.  In this case, neurofeedback training may involve increasing (uptraining) faster waves (beta waves) in the prefrontal cortex, while decreasing (downtraining) slower waves; in theory, this should improve the individual’s ability to focus.

Most people regard neurofeedback as a relatively benign, yet effective way to improve mental performance.  While this practice is considered safer than taking a medication that carries side effects and withdrawals, there is still a chance that you may experience side effects from neurofeedback.  Fortunately, most side effects are not considered severe and can usually be prevented or reduced by working with an experienced neurofeedback practitioner.

Factors that influence side effects from neurofeedback

There are some possible factors that should be considered as culpable for inducing side effects.  These factors include things like: individual variation, the specific brain waves being uptrained or downtrained, the brain region getting trained, experience of the professional, and whether a person has preexisting neurological conditions.

1. Individual variation

Any activity or substance that alters brain activity is likely to provoke side effects.  Although most neurofeedback practitioners suggest that side effects are minimal or nonexistent, it is important to always trust your own experience.  Every person is different and just because most people don’t experience side effects from neurofeedback doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same reaction.

Some people may experience noticeable side effects, resulting from individual variation.  Two people with nearly identical QEEGs may experience the same training, yet one person may report harsher side effects than another.  These side effects may be a result of subjective interpretation, a placebo effect, or various other neurochemical, neuroanatomical, and genetic influences.

2. Quality of training

Anyone partaking in neurofeedback to improve brain functionality should consider the quality of their training.  You should be working with a qualified professional, preferably someone with years of experience and success in the field of neurofeedback.  Additionally, you should only work with someone that conducts a QEEG prior to training; a QEEG ensures that the practitioner is targeting abnormalities rather than “guessing” what is wrong.

Working with a practitioner that is outdated and/or who does not conduct a QEEG prior to training will increase your risk of unwanted side effects.  Make sure that you’re working with someone who not only has experience, but a good track record in the field of neurofeedback.  Quality training can make a big difference between a person experiencing adverse reactions and experiencing no side effects.

3. Location (site) of training

Based on your QEEG scan, a neurofeedback practitioner will be able to pinpoint some specific locations that should be targeted for training.  The training generally involves either increasing (uptraining) certain frequencies and/or decreasing (downtraining) others.  Certain locations of the brain are inherently more risky to modify compared to others and may lead to many side effects.

To minimize your risk of side effects, you should target areas of the brain that are well-known to improve performance, rather than areas that may be risky to alter.  The best neurofeedback practitioners know areas of the brain to target based on QEEG scans.  Furthermore, they will ensure that the sensors are placed in precise locations rather than inadvertently misaligned.

4. Brain waves

Certain frequencies of brain waves may produce more substantial side effects than others.  Those attempting to increase certain frequencies of beta waves and/or gamma waves may experience side effects related to increased arousal.  For example, uptraining mid to high beta waves may result in transient feelings of panic, racing thoughts, and/or generalized anxiety.

Increasing slower wave frequencies such as alpha and theta may result in decreased energy, fatigue, and inability to concentrate.  It is possible for the slower frequencies to produce a sense of depersonalization or emotional upheavals.  While these may be transient, they could become difficult to overcome if they are improperly trained.

5. Preexisting neurological conditions

If you have a preexisting neurological condition, you should always tell a neurofeedback practitioner.  There may be greater risk of adverse reactions during neurofeedback among those with neurological conditions.  For example, it is known that those with epilepsy experience abnormal surges of electrical activity that increase likelihood of seizures.

Should you have any significant neurological condition, realize that you may be prone to side effects that others won’t experience.  While neurofeedback may end up improving your condition, it is important to discuss any potential risks to minimize the probability of adverse reactions.

Neurofeedback Side Effects / Adverse Reactions: List of Possibilities

While neurofeedback is generally recognized as a safe intervention for improving electroneurological flexibility, some people report side effects.  A majority of reported side effects aren’t considered dangerous and usually transitory in that they’ll eventually subside.  That said, if you aren’t working with a skilled professional, haven’t gotten a QEEG assessment, and/or are conducting neurofeedback on your own – you may increase the risk of experiencing side effects.

  • Anxiety: Many people report anxiety associated with the neurofeedback. Some of the anxiety may be a placebo or circumstantial based on the fact that electrodes are being attached to their head.  This may result in the perception that a person’s brain could be damaged, etc.  It is important to consider this circumstantial anxiety stemming from the neurofeedback setup itself.  Improper training could exacerbate anxiety as could adverse reactions.  Some people have reported increased anxiety following neurofeedback sessions.
  • Brain fog: While neurofeedback can be a great tool for reducing brain fog and improving concentration, not everyone has a favorable reaction. Some people actually experience impaired concentration following their training.  An increase in brain fog may be a transient reaction and may subside with continued training.  That said, improper training could potentially make you feel “spacey” and decrease your ability to focus.
  • Cognitive impairment: Those attempting to maximize cognitive performance may engage in neurofeedback. The problem is that training the wrong frequencies in suboptimal locations may result in impaired cognitive function.  In other words, your thinking may become slower and your performance could actually decrease as a result of the training.
  • Chattering teeth: A rarer side effect that has been reported is that of chattering teeth. While this chattering may not occur during sessions, it may occur following a session.  Those that have experienced teeth chattering compare it to the same as you’d experience if your body was shivering (e.g. on a winter day).
  • Fatigue: Should you experience fatigue from neurofeedback, it may be transient. If you are increasing a faster frequency in a region where a slower one was dominant and/or increasing a slower frequency in a region where a faster one was dominant, you may end up with transient fatigue.  Over time, your energy level should normalize and fatigue will subside.  That said, there’s a chance that improper training could cause fatigue.
  • Depersonalization: Anytime you’re changing the electrical activity in your brain, regardless of whether you’re doing neurofeedback or using brainwave entrainment, you may feel depersonalized. This depersonalization or feeling “unlike” your normal self may be uncomfortable and less appealing to some individuals.  While you may eventually adapt to your new state of consciousness, you may also dread it and experience discomfort.
  • Depression: Some people may experience depression during neurofeedback. Depression is thought to be more common among those increasing slower brain waves, while anxiety is thought to be more common among those increasing faster ones.  While the depression may be temporary, it is important to consider that too much slow wave training could decrease neurophysiological arousal to the point of depression.
  • Dizziness: If you start to feel dizzy following neurofeedback, it may stem from the electrical adjustment taking place in your brain. It could also be from overtraining certain frequencies and/or too intense of training over a short-term.  Understand that dizziness may also be related to anxiety and/or a placebo-based side effect.
  • Headaches: While headaches could certainly be a placebo effect, training faster waves (of higher frequencies) can certainly produce headaches. Should a practitioner improperly train certain brain waves, target the wrong region, etc. – a person may experience full-blown migraines.
  • Head pressure: It has been reported that some people experience pressure on their head. This pressure may be in the area that was being trained via neurofeedback.  It may even be in another area and/or more widespread than in one specific location.  The pressure is a relatively uncommon side effect, but may occur as a result of electroneurological alterations.
  • Internal vibrations: Another side effect that has been anecdotally mentioned is that of internal vibrations, almost as if your insides are buzzing. These vibrations may be troubling and/or feel as if something is internally amiss.  It is certainly possible that electrical alterations may have provoked physiological changes that lead to these vibrations.
  • Low energy: If you’re a very high energy person and/or certain brain waves are triggering hyperactivity and are a byproduct of excess CNS stimulation – reducing these waves may result in temporary bouts of low energy. This energy reduction is due to the fact that you’re comparing your hyperaroused brain to a calmer one.  That said, it is possible for some individuals to experience transient energy reductions with neurofeedback training.  More permanent reductions may stem from improper training.
  • Muscle tension: Experiencing muscle tension is often a result of improper neurofeedback training. That said, training faster frequencies such as beta and gamma in certain areas may result in increased tension.  Proper neurofeedback training has significant potential to reduce perceptions of muscle tension.
  • Social anxiety: It is possible to become more anxious in social situations after neurofeedback. While an experienced professional will decrease the likelihood that you’ll experience social anxiety, some have reported this as a side effect.  This may be a more likely effect among those that have a history of anxiety.
  • Tiredness: In some cases, neurofeedback feels like a mental workout. You may find that your brain becomes tired afterwards because you were trying so hard to improve the electrical activity in your brain.  This mental exertion may result in both mental and physical tiredness.  Overtraining and/or training the wrong frequencies can also provoke tiredness.
  • Trembling: The electrical changes occurring within a person’s brain during neurofeedback could result in physiological alterations. These physiological alterations may trigger sensations of shivering and/or trembling.  While the trembling could be related to anxiety and may even be temporary, it is a rare adverse reaction that has bee noted.
  • Vocal changes: Anecdotal reports have suggested that neurofeedback may result in vocal changes and/or subjective perceptions that a person’s voice has changed. Obviously if a person experiences an increase in anxiety and/or trembling, these may be culpable for any reported vocal changes.
  • Worsening of symptoms: The goal of neurofeedback is to improve brain functioning by optimizing electrical activity. If you have anxiety, depression, ADHD, or another condition – it is important to consider the possibility that your symptoms may worsen.  A worsening of symptoms may be temporary, but may be induced by suboptimal or improper training.

Note: Many people report symptoms stemming from neurofeedback that they had never experienced prior to the training.  In other words, a person could develop anxiety despite never having experienced anxiety prior to the training.

How to Reduce and/or Cope with Neurofeedback Side Effects

To reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience side effects, adverse reactions, and/or dangers associated with neurofeedback, you may want to follow some of the suggestions discussed below.

1. Get a QEEG “brain map”

Prior to engaging in neurofeedback training, you should always get a complete QEEG (quantitative electroencephalograph). This QEEG provides the neurofeedback practitioner with a blueprint of the electrical activity in your brain. It allows them to diagnose abnormalities and certain areas that you’d benefit from targeting in your training.

Individuals that don’t get a QEEG are blindly “guessing” at what should be corrected.  Blindly guessing the electrical activity that should be corrected is a bad strategy if you want good results.  Additionally, hypothesizing what “could be wrong” with your brain waves increases your risk of adverse reactions.

2. Work with an experienced practitioner

Working with an experienced practitioner will likely ensure that you’re getting the best possible treatment.  Individuals that conduct neurofeedback, but lack significant experience may be unprepared to discuss potential side effects and/or adverse reactions.  Inexperienced practitioners may assume that their training is optimal when in reality, it is doing more harm than good.

Experienced practitioners should have new, functioning, updated equipment and should be up-to-date with the latest literature.  They should be aware of the safest frequencies to train and the regions of the brain that are safest to target.  Take the time to work with someone that’s highly qualified rather than the cheapest practitioner available – it’ll reduce your chances of side effects.

3. Communicate with the practitioner

Communication is extremely important during neurofeedback – especially after sessions.  You should be keeping a journal (I recommend “The Journal“) to note how you feel each day.  If you notice any significant side effects, these should be mentioned to your practitioner.  The neurofeedback practitioner should be actively listening to your side effects and should discuss them with you.

In some cases the practitioner may inform you that the side effects are transient and will eventually subside.  In other cases, the side effects may be unexpected and brain waves may have been improperly trained or a region may have been mis-targeted.  The neurofeedback practitioner should be considering any feedback you’ve given throughout the process.

4. Cut back on training

Some people end up “overtraining” their brain in that the neurofeedback sessions are too long and/or too intense.  Overtraining may increase risk of side effects and/or adverse reactions.  Neurofeedback may feel like a “brain workout” but shouldn’t necessarily result in significant side effects and/or adverse reactions.

If you are training several times per week for long durations each session, you may want to reduce the number of weekly sessions and/or the length of each session.  As with any medication, the minimal effective dose concept also applies to neurofeedback.

5. Fuel your brain

If you were working out your body (e.g. lifting weights), you’d hopefully provide it with nutritious fuel in the form of food.  If you are working out your brain with neurofeedback, you should also provide it with fuel.  Ensure that you are eating an optimal diet for mental health with foods such as: vegetables, healthy fats, protein, some fruit, and healthy whole grains can minimize your risk of fatigue and overtraining-related side effects.

6. Persist with training

Should you experience minor side effects, it is important to realize that they may be transitory.  Whenever a person is changing their electrical “QEEG” signature, it’s possible that they will meet some resistance.  The brain wants to function how it has always functioned, and changing it to adapt to a new set of frequencies may carry some side effects.

Should you persist with the training, you may find that the side effects fade in time.  Obviously if the side effects are severe, you may want to stop the neurofeedback altogether.  However, if the side effects are minor and the neurofeedback practitioner has suggested that they are likely to be transitory, you may want to persist with your training.

7. Stop neurofeedback

If you suspect that your neurofeedback practitioner is inexperienced or you cannot deal with the side effects you’re experiencing, you may want to just stop neurofeedback.  Despite the fact that neurofeedback has been hyped in the media as having “no side effects” – clearly this isn’t the case for everyone.  Not everyone will benefit from having their brain’s electrical signature altered to fit a consensus “average” of what’s considered normal activity.  If you feel the drawbacks (side effects) outweigh the benefits, discontinuing neurofeedback may be smart.

FAQs: Neurofeedback Side Effects

Below are some frequently asked questions related to neurofeedback and potential side effects and/or adverse reactions.

When does a person experience side effects from neurofeedback?

Side effects resulting from neurofeedback can be experienced at any time throughout training.  They may be experienced during the very first session, or may become noticeable after several sessions.  Most people report side effects within their first 10 neurofeedback sessions.

Neurofeedback is unlikely to produce significant change within the first session, but the cumulative effect of training could trigger side effects.  It is less common to experience side effects “immediately.”  That said, all side effects you experience as a result of your training should be reported and noted as soon as you experience them.

Is neurofeedback guaranteed to make my brain perform better?

No. First of all, not all neurofeedback practitioners are good at what they do.  There are also many styles of neurofeedback training – some of which may be more effective than others.  In addition, even if a neurofeedback practitioner is following a specific protocol and has extensive experience, there’s no guarantee that making electrical corrections to your brain activity will provide benefit.

Sometimes corrections to fit a “norm” (based on “normal” QEEG readings) may result in significantly more drawbacks than benefits.  Having an abnormal QEEG may provide you with certain adaptive advantages that another person with a QEEG “normalized” by neurofeedback wouldn’t.  It is also important to consider the possibility that electrical corrections may result in a worsening or exacerbation of the condition you were attempting to correct with neurofeedback.

While most people will get some benefit from neurofeedback, individual variation suggests that not everyone will feel better following training.  In fact, some people may note no significant change, while others may notice that their performance is compromised.  Any treatment that has potential to help you, also has potential to inflict harm and impair performance.

Could neurofeedback training be dangerous?

While there isn’t significant that neurofeedback is dangerous, it could be dangerous to work with an incompetent practitioner.  An incompetent practitioner may actually “screw up” your brain’s electrical activity, making it tougher for you to function in society.  If you notice that you cannot think, have developed odd side effects, and feel as if neurofeedback has made you feel significantly worse – you may want to avoid it.

Most practitioners market neurofeedback as a risk-free practice.  In other words, they suggest that it only has potential to improve functioning, rather than impair it.  Any technology that can alter the brain for the better could also alter it for the worse.  Certain frequencies within the gamma range can overlap frequencies of an electrical outlet – and one mistake could result in a literal “brain zap” of electricity.

Comparing the therapeutic benefit with the side effects

Whenever engaging in any treatment, regardless of whether it’s natural, low risk, pharmaceutical, etc. – it is important to conduct a cost-benefit analysis.  In other words, you should constantly be comparing the therapeutic benefit derived from the treatment with the side effects you experience.  Some individuals engaging in neurofeedback will experience side effects, but their performance may improve.

In this case, it may be justified to continue treatment for the performance benefit in spite of few pesky side effects.  In other cases, a person may experience side effects and have a poor response to the neurofeedback treatment.  In this case, it’s probably a smart idea to discontinue the practice and/or consider that the practitioner you’re working with may be underqualified.

Many people will report noticeable benefits without any side effects; this is the ideal scenario.  If neurofeedback is improving your mental functioning without any adverse reactions, there’s an incentive to continue treatment.

Have you experienced side effects from neurofeedback training?

Just like improper weight lifting technique could result in physical injury – improper neurofeedback training could result in side effects and/or adverse reactions.  These adverse reactions shouldn’t be undermined and/or glossed over.  Altering electrical activity in the brain can simultaneously alter physiology, neurotransmission, and cognitive processing.

If you’ve engaged in neurofeedback, feel free to share a comment mentioning whether you’ve experienced any side effects or adverse reactions.  Be sure to mention what side effects you experienced, their severity, and what you believed caused them.  Were they transitory or a byproduct of improper neurofeedback training?  Share details about your training such as: number of sessions, duration of the sessions, regional targeting, and brain waves being trained.

If you’re experiencing unwanted side effects, there’s a chance it may be chalked up to individual variation, but more likely that you’re working with an incompetent professional that may not have taken a QEEG scan to know what should be targeted.  The goal of neurofeedback should be to improve your performance, and if performed correctly, side effects should be virtually unnoticeable and/or transient.

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50 thoughts on “Neurofeedback Side Effects, Adverse Reactions, & Dangers”

  1. I have been suffering from ME/CFS and insomnia for 15 years. I have tried most drugs for my insomnia and unfortunately the only ones that help (only partially) are benzodiazepines. I am an extremely sensitive individual and my insomnia can easily be made worse by things that wouldn’t bother most people (i.e. too much vitamin B).

    I was assessed for neurotherapy through brain mapping by a qualified neurotherapist and was assigned 3 harmonic CD’s to use to help my sleep (Delta waves), for my ‘anxiety’ and to help focus. I began with the sleep harmonic just before bedtime as I was reading, but unfortunately, I did 30 minutes instead of the prescribed 15.

    The result was that I basically couldn’t sleep until I increased my sleeping meds, took extra calming herbs and took 50 mg benadryl. Even then, I only slept for 6 hours. I haven’t even begun the treatments, but I have serious concerns about my sensitivity and the negative effects that might result from a full 40 minute session of the same harmonics.

    I have left a message with my practitioner and plant to discuss this with her. Why would something that is meant to get me to sleep actually have the opposite effect (apart from the fact I listened to it too long)? If I am such a sensitive individual, am I actually going to be harmed by the treatment? How do I judge?

  2. I’ve had 8 sessions of neurofeedback with a practitioner who used the Cygnet IFL neurofeedback program. I’ve stopped because I have not been able to fall asleep and/or stay asleep for more than a couple hours each night, ever since.

    Despite that, I feel weirdly alert most of the time, even though I’m exhausted from the lack of sleep. Has anyone experience similar side effects? If so, did they subside over time? Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  3. I am a 63 years old female with chronic insomnia and general anxiety. After taking sleeping pills for years, going to counseling and not improving, decided to try EEG neuro-biofeedback. Therapist was licensed and had 6 years of experience.

    With the biofeedback training, my clarity of thoughts and my perception as well improved. Quickly, I began taking half of my sleeping pill and then quit completely (with permission of my psychiatrist) and in five days I could sleep without Temazepam (15 mg). It was amazing to me.

    I could sleep without the sleeping pill and go to bed around 11:00 PM. I must say I took L-theanine and 5-HTP during those nights I reduced the prescribed pill/and or did not take them. (I had tried those two supplements in the past with no success).

    I attributed my ability to sleep to the neurofeedback training. However, my happiness did not last long. After the 6th biofeedback session, I had a rare reaction: headaches, white noise and trembling inside my head and some sudden twitching in my left arm.

    I told the therapist about these and she said could be due to the reaction of me stopping my sleeping pills or a side effect from training, but in the case of the second possibility it should stop in 48 hours. I had stopped the sleeping pills in the past and the result was just not being able to get any sleep in the entire night, but I did not tremble or heard white noises in my head.

    I have still white noises and trembling in my head a week after the last training. I don’t know what’s going on with me. I am more alert and focused, but I cannot sleep well as I did for three days under EEG biofeedback. Cannot understand the quick change.

    It takes me many hours to be able to get some sleep, and that only happens after meditation, relaxation of my muscles and a lot deal of patience and concentration on an agreeable experience, so I get some sleep around 3:00 AM and get up early. I am not proficient in relaxation techniques, so it is taking me a long time at night to be able to relax.

    I quit the biofeedback training. I am very concerned to return to have my brain waves “fixed” again, and scared to feel even worst if I do. The training is expensive for me and it worries me to expend resources and time in something that will get me worse.

    I am hoping to return to my own self, but quite frankly do not know how to do it. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist in two weeks, and will talk to him to get advice. Any advice from readers or sharing similar experiences are welcome. Thank you.

    • Hi Maggie, I’m sorry to hear about your experience with neurofeedback. Did the negative side effects disappear over time? I’ve had 8 sessions and have not been able to fall asleep and/or stay asleep for more than a couple hours each night, for the past few days. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Maggie – when I slowly went off SSRI pills I had exactly what you are describing. White noise, buzzing head, leg cramps [potassium deficiency] and extreme sensitivity to lights; dizziness, extreme fatigue, nausea. ALL DETOX SYMPTOMS. I walked around wearing 2 pairs of sunglasses!

      LOL – anyway, EMDR helped me with generalized anxiety. I am proud to say NO PILLS for 15yrs. and sleep is excellent by taking liquid magnesium and HEMP oil health supplement. Too bad you didn’t fully go off pills before starting your treatments in this arena.

      I was told by a therapist who has a neurofeedback facility – that this isn’t really good for sensitive individuals whatsoever.

  4. It’s working for me. I have severe idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. I’m in pain every moment of every day. Its exhausting and the pain drugs put me in a terrible brain fog. I have to nap every afternoon. I quit my job as a lab assistant when it became unsafe for me to drive after an 8 hour workday. I have tried everything I can find to get my life back.

    6 weeks ago I started neurofeedback and pulsed electrical stimulation throughout my body, 15 min ea 3x wk. After these sessions I am wiped out; so wiped out that I have about 30-45 min to get myself home before the exhaustion increases and my vision doubles to where I can’t drive. BUT the other 4 days are totally different. Things have noticeably improved.

    I have mental clarity again. Its wonderful! The exhaustion doesn’t usually take over now until I refuse to respect my limits; which is often because I’m not an idle person. I still have the pain so I meditate every afternoon to put mind over matter. Without the extreme exhaustion and brain fog, this disorder is a lot more tolerable.

    I took a day to be a tourist in a nearby town and walked the entire day! I took medical marijuana for the pain but I didn’t have to stop walking after 4 hours. I was still in bed by 8pm but this time last year I would never have been able to be on my feet most of the day without opiates.

    I don’t know if the results are going to be long lasting. I still take drugs and marijuana oil for the pain. Since my disorder will probably not ever go away I am looking for incremental improvements. Neurofeedback has helped me.

  5. Additionally, a form of CBT known as MiCBT has been helpful to me. I’ve noticed that I can actually induce certain mental or emotional states if I focus enough on creating them in day-to-day activities. Sure, the emotional numbness dominates me if I let it. However, sometimes just smiling, looking at the beautiful surroundings and telling myself “I can do this” is enough for me to become calm, centered, motivated and energised. And I can definitely say that doing activities you’d normally enjoy before the entrainment brings back old memories that have emotions attached. If the memory is strong enough, I can feel the emotions that were stored with the memory.

  6. I have experienced similar side-effects to those mentioned after using “Awakening Prologue” brain entrainment CDs. For me, listening to Mozart reverses them. While listening, I can concentrate, focus and remember better. A few days after, I am able to read a chapter of a book once and recall all of the topics.

    I also noticed the clarity of thought while writing to be undeniably clear. Before this, I always had problems remembering and writing. The ideas would be disjointed in both reading and writing. These “healing” effects of listening to Mozart has been acknowledged in research; I guess these are the effects I am experiencing.

    I am still experimenting with this. So far, most of the benefits occur while listening and actively studying. I am uncertain of the long-term benefits. Maybe someone else has tried and would be kind enough to share their experiences.

  7. Wanted to bump this thread… Squiddy, did your anhedonia ever resolve? I did my first feedback session yesterday for severe anxiety which included a short round of the PEMF and then the EEG training while watching the video.

    During the PEMF I immediately noticed some uncomfortable feelings, felt slow to respond and foggy/almost drunk, sweaty palms and head pressure. I was anxious going into that because I have never liked the idea of altering the brain through electricity. She chalked it up to me being in my head too much and so we switched over to the EEG training. I did particularly well with that even when the thresholds were increased.

    Even though my brain felt a bit tired afterwards and my eyes were dry from trying to keep them open, I felt VERY calm and almost euphoric. Which I never feel anymore. I expressed concern to the therapist about going backwards or “damaging” my brain but she said the only thing that would happen is that I would feel better.

    I spoke to my mom later that evening who expressed some concern and asked if I had done much research about potential side effects. I had intentionally not looked them up as I tend to manifest things psychosomatically and didn’t want anything I read beforehand potentially influencing the outcome. Now I am at this site and am absolutely terrified.

    I know that most of what we saw online is negative reviews or bad experiences, adverse side effects and not really so much on people’s positive experiences so it’s hard to get an accurate picture but I am unsure where to go from here.

    I have spent the last twenty years with crippling anxiety trying every possible treatment to no avail (you name it I have tried it) while my anxiety has just continued to get worse year after year.

    I am scared now that I have potentially done something to make my brain even worse, even though I only had the one session (aside from the initial LENS testing to send short bursts in to different parts of my brain to see how/if they responded).

    Look forward to hearing back to see if those of you who were experiencing horrible side effects have had any relief from them or had resolution with them. Thank you!

  8. Now that I’ve collected enough of my “old self” to write coherently, I suppose a separate thread is needed to document the results of my surprisingly discomforting withdrawal from neurofeedback. I might’ve been lucky enough to evade the common offer of “more of the same thing that harmed you!”, and prevented further damage. Now, after three sessions dismantled my cognitive functioning for a month, the pressure headaches/brain fog/”magnetizing” light sources/depression that came outta nowhere/aversion to eating/etc have all subsided completely.

    While this should be my time to rejoice, I cannot take part in doing so because I’m still experiencing severe anhedonia. I cannot feel emotions for most of the day. I might have to wait longer for this last piece to correct itself. While I’m still having terribly vivid nightmares and an overall dulling of my personality, I consider these to be small problems as they don’t cause direct pain.

    I don’t care if these never get resolved, I just want to feel any emotion other than “blank”. In addition, is everyone actually ignoring that neurofeedback has been giving a small number of treatment-seeking people long-term/permanent harm? I know that’s what treatments like ECT are all about, but that has self-explanatory risks associated with it. Medications usually have well-documented risk factors, and side-effects usually clear up 100% after some time.

    The worst this has been called is “snake oil”, which I believe is an understatement compared to this one sufferer’s use of “Russian roulette” to describe the “risky gamble” of undergoing neurofeedback. You can get something, you can get nothing, or you can get screwed over in the largest way possible. Side-effects sometimes don’t disappear “immediately”, cannot be corrected with an “adjusted protocol”, and can persist for months, years, or forever. That’s what “side-effect free” truly means in the context of NF.

    So, when are we going to get people to recognize the risks of NF? It can induce similar side-effects to long-term medication use practically overnight, but it’s still being sold as “safer than medication”. Seeing how practitioners and corporations responded negatively to the complaints of others leads me to believe that this statement is made out of pure ignorance rather than a lack of baseline information.

    Refusing to acknowledge the backfiring of their techniques and machines makes them no better than any “shady drug company” that’s supposedly “fueling an anti-neurofeedback agenda to continue pushing drugs into people’s mouths”. (Some people actually believe this, too.) Also, a scary point was brought up by someone else. Young children that undergo this therapy may not be able to clearly express the symptoms of side-effects, and many concerned parents are currently placing their ADD/ADHD kids into various neurofeedback therapies.

    With one parent reporting a child “battling their own mind” in response to a treatment… we’re probably going to see a generation of NF-damaged people that speak out against NF like older “treatment survivors” spoke out against lobotomies. As for me, I’d better recover from this awful emotional dry-spell.

    It was only three sessions! How could that be keeping me like this for almost two months! At least the headaches vanished after a month, but c’mon, nobody should be suffering like this.

    • Did you ever get your emotions back? I am dealing with same issue after 4 sessions. Noticed anhedonia after 3rd but was invited to come back for adjustments which just made it worse.

  9. I had a bad experience with neurofeedback. My practitioner used a method where they tried different protocols to see how I react. The problem is I am more sensitive than the average person so each trial protocol had effects in one or two sessions and didn’t wear off.

    I have been stuck with the effects of these protocols for 10 years. The symptoms I have now are consistent with the expected effects of those protocols and aren’t symptoms if ever had before in my life. I suspect that someone might be able to reverse them if they knew what to do but I have not been impressed with the Neurofeedback field.

    A lot of people out there have only a weekend course in it and are being told it can’t harm anyone. This isn’t true. It’s not been studied rigorously in a methodical way for most conditions.

    I’m glad this article exists to warn people of the risks. I certainly wish the person who suggested it to me had warned me of the risks so I could have made an informed decision.

  10. Well, looks like I’ve ended up here too. I am (Or, was.) a very talented person who was really getting serious in the art business (Intuos4 tablet and all). I had never been depressed, and I was known as a big eater. In fact, I considered myself “immune” to depression because of how happy I was naturally. I’m still trying to be like that, as you may see in this comment, but it’s just not the same, man.

    It all began about six months ago, September 2016. My mother was seeking to treat the narcoleptic episodes that have been holding me back from learning to drive. So, rather than looking for medication, she found me a not-so-local doctor who was a BCIA-certified neurofeedback practitioner, and was treating many patients using neurofeedback. We decided to pay them a visit, and they offered to treat my issue.

    Simple as that. I (Or my mom.) was asked to come one a week for a year and a half and pay an amount far over twenty-thousand dollars. The doctor and his staff were, to be fair, very friendly and caring. For the first few weeks, I truly felt that the treatment was my gateway to driving 5 meters to the convenience store to buy some chips.

    The neurofeedback system used was a BrainCore-brand program that read my brainwaves, and told the practitioner, apparently, what needed to be “fixed”. Five months passed. Christmastime came, and absolutely nothing changed. Still dropping asleep, and nothing at all felt different.

    But, I didn’t complain because I got to watch free movies. Even that CGI “The Lorax” one that recently got meme’d on my MRMRMANGOHEAD. This was the only benefit I received after about 20 sessions (5 x 4 = 20, so…). One day, in December, my practitioner decided to re-evaluate my brainstuff with a QEEG mapping. Afterwards, it was determined that “significant improvement” was seen.

    My mental reaction was pretty much: “Ok…?”. And so, a new protocol was assigned to my treatment at the beginning of January 2017. Here’s where things get bad.

    -Week 1: My highly-received drawing ability seemed to diminish, and I thought I was just having a bad string of “off days”. January 7th was the last day I drew something, but without coloring it.

    -Week 2: I began my second semester. Oddly, I noticed I was putting off assignments and home chores for some reason. A mild, consistent headache started to develop, and I began skipping meals. Midway through the week, I began to notice that some things were going wrong in my life. Half-finishing art, homework and a sudden lack of motivation to finish personal responsibilities. But, nonetheless, I could not find a direct cause until…

    -Week 3 (Oh, no.):
    1. Persistent laziness/sagginess/lack of motivation which is affecting my class performance, athletic performance (in gym-class) and home performance along with finishing personal responsibilities.
    2. No dopamine release when engaging in normally enjoyable tasks (showering, listening to music, playing games, eating, etc.) which has contributed to increasing sadness in my overall daily mood.
    3. Headaches and unnatural mental blockages are preventing “background thoughts”. These thoughts are crucial in allowing me to function in many circles of my life. This includes personally, socially and academically.
    4. Eating has been thrown out of order, as my brain feels “full” too quickly. Sometimes, I feel “hunger” in my stomach while feeling “too much food” in my brain. This Thursday, I was only able to eat a small fruit danish for breakfast before feeling ill. Far in the afternoon, after skipping lunch, I was unable to eat more that two small-size slices of pizza. Friday morning, I woke up feeling ill due to hunger. Prior to realizing that this was a problem, I recall many instances where I skipped my home dinners and refused to eat a piece of rarely-made banana bread due to feeling “full”.

    Other oddities have been noticed, but these are the most severe.

    There was no Week 4. I notified my practitioner about these issues, and they suggested that I return for a few sessions to “reverse my negative effects”. But, I found in a few places that this didn’t work for some people. So I quit. And that was today.

    I’m currently feeling no better as of right now, but I hope that my short number of sessions (3) with this protocol wasn’t enough for this to become permanent. Right now, my art is pretty much dead, my mood is awful, and I’m being forced to starve by my mind. Before you question my validity, know I’m not some crazy 40-year-old naysayer.

    I, in past tense, was your average everyday college student with big dreams and a big heart. Now, I feel like an emotionless shell who exists without purpose. I feel as if the old me is clinically dead. I can’t actually feel any of this, though, because my emotional release functions are totally disabled.

    I can no longer enjoy memes or High-Quality Rips. AND I’m still starving. I feel sick. (endofevangelion.mp4). And… I couldn’t make this stuff up. An artistic weeb with many friends and huge career goals, suddenly feeling on the road to checking themselves in at a mental hospital? I am SAD THAT I LACK THE TALENT TO MAKE THIS STUFF UP.

    Neurofeedback hurt me, and it can hurt you too if you’re not careful. Could it possibly be a drug-free treatment for severe ADHD issues? Absolutely. Is it definitely a cure-all treatment for everyone? Absolutely not. If my current state does not reverse itself, the world will be cruel to me from here on out. If it does, I guess I’d feel pretty lucky that I quit early.

    And, my blame isn’t put on the practitioner. Nope. The machine was telling him what to do, and the machine messed me up. I don’t feel comfortable with trusting a corporate-owned program that claims to be a fix-all with no side-effects. Remember: “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably false.” -Good ‘Ol Sanic the Hodgeheg, Sonic Sez

    • Okay, ignore the silliness I tried to convey through my previous message. It’s currently been two weeks since those 3 problematic sessions… and I seem to be slowly recovering from the unwanted effects. I plan to “officially” cancel treatment soon.

      However, I’m not sure how far my recovery will go. Will I return to my previous self, or will I forever remain with just half of my abilities and pressure headaches? Time will have to tell.

      Judging by what others say, I’m guessing that returning for “fixing” sessions may sometimes deepen side-effects. According to my practitioner, the (horrendous) side-effects I experienced were “normal” and might feel a bit “spooky” from my perspective. Well, I thought this therapy was side-effect free.

      Now side-effects are apparently mandatory. Huh. My only advice: If really strange things start happening after undergoing neurofeedback therapy, stop immediately before 10 sessions. Don’t go back to get “fixed”. It just doesn’t work for some people.

      • I’m posting so frequently because many sufferers in this small commenting section haven’t returned to clarify if the damage caused by their neurofeedback sessions ever “went away,” which is probably the thing everyone wants to know. It’s currently been 1 month after ending my 3, and only 3, EEG neurofeedback sessions, and I still haven’t gone back. My current state of actual depression may have been induced by a protocol that “down-trained” a certain wave frequency.

        The pressure headaches are still intruding into everything I do, and slower thinking is definitely in the mix. I don’t know what to do anymore. Does healing require time? How much time? I don’t have time to waste. I ended last semester with A’s-and-B’s, and now I’m being forced to fail this semester because someone thought they knew how to play with my brainwaves. It’s the definition of a tragedy.

        And, once again, I must say that the first comment I made was messily-written due to how shocked I was from learning what neurofeedback was really doing to me. I regret everything, but I’m holding onto my hopes. I hope that, in following months, I’ll slowly return to my familiar mental state.

        I’ll even take a going back-and-forth thing. Literally anything outshines what I’m going through right now.

  11. DO NOT do neurofeedback!! It’s a scam! My 6 year old had 40 sessions ($3,100) and now his behavior has escalated to the worst ever. About 2 months (16 sessions or so) into the therapy he started having really good weeks (1-2 at a time) and then REALLY bad weeks.

    This gave me hope though that there was some improvement and I was told by the practitioner that his brain was re-organizing when it appears that it was actually making it unstable. The QEEG results were never impressive either. It showed that the high arousal areas were just being shifted from 1 area to another instead of being improved.

    It’s also affected his memory. He used to remember EVERYTHING and now forgets things like what he was going to say or what he did in school. Also, his one eye winks sometimes. It appears to be involuntary. I looked at the screen during his 1st session and now I have floaters in my eyesight.

    I’m hoping in time my son’s brain will go back to where it was when he started this. It wasn’t great, but at least it was better than it is now. My son’s practitioner kept pushing for him to take omega-3 supplements and said that he should have psychotherapy as well.

    If neurofeedback is suppose to do what they claim, he wouldn’t need anything else. The brain controls everything and something should be done about these practitioners giving false hope and advice and messing around with it.

  12. I had 6 neurofeedback sessions for psychotic symptoms which I needed medication for (with meds I was free of symptoms). The psychotic symptoms disappeared almost completely with neurofeedback. But so did all my other feelings. I have been able to nearly stop all medication. But in return I now have severe anhedonia – my emotions are completely blunted. I am not at all happy with this trade off.

    I feel really stupid because after the second time I already noticed this. I let myself be persuaded by the neurofeedback practitioner to have 4 more sessions, which he said would correct the former problem. They only made it deeper and now I’m scared I will never get back my former self. It has been 1.5 month now and I’m still the same. Any ideas or positive stories about neurofeedback adverse effects being reversible?

  13. Neurofeedback messed up my ability to handle stress and emotions. It gave me extreme head pressure and headaches. Greatly increased depression, OCD, and agitation. The worst experience I have had.

  14. I am literally shocked by the fact that ever single contributor to this article has had horrible experiences – except – naturally the 2 contributors who own /rent their machines out. Lol – figures. I encourage everyone to find a Naturopathic Doctor who can give infusions for detoxing /oxygenating the brain who can and will reverse any hopefully short term side effects. There is no other option in my humble opinion… besides prayer!

  15. Hi I’m a person with ADHD and TBI from falls and lacrosse and basketball. I received 8 sessions of biofeedback and now am smelling an electrical aroma. Is this from the connection frequency and an that be fixed to not make any smell? Or is it because the type of treatment I received has me using only the electric from the biofeedback? I’d like to know if drinking more water will help it go away? And if it’s just burned onto my head from the way I got it done. She used only electrodes on the goo on top of my scalp! I need to use more alcohol to scrub it off but is there anyone with this symptom? I’m nervous I’ll have this smell forever. Thank you.

  16. I am so grateful for this site. My 24 year old son who is bipolar & very sensitive to medications,suffers from extreme depression and anxiety, has just come through a very manic psychotic episode from marijuana (which he now has 110 days clean) and started an op program,part of the program is 1 hour of neurofeedback daily. After the first few days his depression & anxiety started worsening & he was very angry, I did some research & read that there are risk factors as you mention & symptoms can worsen or others develop.

    When I met with the head of the program she said there are no real risk & no side effects but perhaps a little insomnia at first or headache but it would pass. I explained about his bipolar again & she said she would check the protocol herself and make the adjustments. After one week with adjustments, his anxiety has increased,his depression is not better, he is saying he has to pee all the time, his mouth is salivating more,his body has pain (like exercising) & he has crawling in skin effect, he is constantly hungry & actually gets stomach pain.

    I noticed some odd behaviors of past psychotic episode & in expressing my concerns to him he did mention he was hearing a voice a few days back for 2 days. I am so concerned and praying we can reverse this or it passes. He was doing so well before this.He has even lost his desire & focus to work his AA program like he was. Can you please give me some suggestions? We are going to go to the administrator on Monday and let them know he does not want to participate in that part of the program and if they insist then I support him to quit going.

    I should of stopped it the first time I brought it up and they sort of dismissed it. Now we are in a worse place. Will his brain go back and stabilize or is this a permanent condition? Should I go to someone else for a second opinion & see if they reverse it? I don’t know what to do and he has trusted me and them and now is doing worse. Help. Thank you.

  17. My 24 year old son with bipolar is in a program they do biofeedback for 1 hour daily 5 days per week. His depression has worsened and his anxiety is over the top. He is having suicidal thoughts and despair. They say it has nothing to do with it and it’s just because he is dealing with his issues. Should we stop? And is it possible to reverse it or will it pass? Help.

  18. My 9 year old son – who is on the autistic spectrum and whose major issue is anxiety (OCD type), has been doing neurofeedback twice a week for the last 10 months (took 3 months off during the summer). The results have been nothing great, and more often than not have worsened his symptoms. The psychiatrist has a very good reputation, charges top dollar, so I have presumed his tech staff are also qualified and knowledgeable – certainly given the doctor’s reputation alone.

    The Dr did a QEEG initially and does one every 10 sessions to get a “mapping” of my son’s progress – (or lack thereof). I have definitely noticed side effects that are unwelcome – usually exacerbations of symptoms he already has. But sometimes his behaviors are over the top, shortly after he starts a new protocol – and then we have to just stop, and start again with a modified protocol – which usually doesn’t bear better results.

    It’s been quite a slog – a big time commitment, and a huge financial drain. And I really don’t know what we’re getting for all the time, money and effort. I’m almost ready to throw in the towel at this point.

  19. 1 day after a biofeedback session I felt pressure in my forehead, where the frontal lob stimulating device was placed. Slight dizziness, a warmness in the forehead a soreness style headache and increased anxiety started bothering me. I’m so angry that I didn’t think this through.

    I’ve spent so much time taking care of myself and being careful not to imbibe anything that’s bad for me and this biofeedback session ends up making me feel like crap! I only had one session! I hope this weird feeling will go away. The front of my head feels like so sore. I won’t be going back and I’m a little fearful of telling the counselor about these negative effects because… well, I don’t think she’ll believe it.

    She had some young guy doing the biofeedback anyway and who knows what training he had. It’s just a nightmare that I didn’t need with all the pressures in my life. Don’t mess with your brain!! Stick to getting good amounts of oxygen and juicing instead.

    • Great advice! And a HUGE THANK YOU to the writer of this article encouraging users to post their experiences as this is a fairly newly re-marketed item that is now becoming more used /promoted by therapists etc. I have also done a ton of research that states that if someone is not properly “methylating B- vitamins and folate” due to a possible genetic issue (see the MTHFR gene on YouTube or Wiki/ google) – this can make ppl more susceptible to depression anxiety etc from their inability to methylate.

      My ND and MD put me on methylated B complex formula and I feel wonderful and also large doses of vitamin D and C. St. John’s wort also cures depression and is posted on WEB.MD… I am SOOO immensely grateful to all those on this site who posted. We NEED to do massive research before we do anything to ourselves.

      Too risky – I’m fairly certain I read that Naiomi Judd did this and now I heard she isn’t doing too great today – who knows if there’s a connection but worth noting. Modern medicine really IS yesterday’s news until theories become facts and statistics.

  20. I am sorry people have suffered so. I agree with most of the article. I am a practitioner and use a system that asks the client 90 questions before training. Then after each session we ask use the system to ask about all the possible positive effects and potential negative effects.

    I like this because right from the beginning we are going to be training in the right areas and for the right amount of time with about 80% of the time. We make adjustments when needed. I probably have had just a handful of people who had undesirable results.

  21. I was considering doing biofeedback and neurofeedback. But after reading this stuff other have been through and how it negatively affected them, there is no way I’m risking my mental health (I suffer from depression, anxiety, etc, than can be pretty bad at times) to making things worse. I’ve experienced being on medications for this stuff and from that couldn’t handle that stuff happening again. Thanks for sharing as you’ve all saved me from making a huge mistake!!

  22. After recovering from a severe illness from mold exposure, I noticed I had some auditory processing issues plus some challenges converting creative ideas into written words. I also was challenged to learn and retain new information. My concerns were just this specific and in the rest of my life I was highly-functioning, creative, optimistic (buoyant, even), compassionate, with a sense of equanimity. I sought treatment for these (in retrospect, minor) cognitive deficits.

    For some reason rather than use the neurofeedback procedure I’d requested, the BCIA-certified practitioner used a device called the Neurofield 3000 which uses pulsing magnetic frequencies (he said this “pre-treatment” would make the neurofeedback more effective). The practitioner was loathe to answer my questions about potential downsides to this device but eventually I was told that the only negative effect could be “no effect,” that I wouldn’t feel anything. We did two back-to-back sessions following a qEEG.

    I was told I should do 2 back-to-back session twice a week for ten weeks. I was extremely fatigued that evening and went to bed early – 8pm – I had weird dreams and then awoke with a night terror (something I’d never had before, but you know it when you have one), followed by suicidal ideation. The next day I was extremely dizzy (walking around a corner would almost cause me to “tip over”), the tinnitus, which I did have prior, was substantially worse, I had a headache and felt very woozy — as though I’d drunk two glasses of wine very fast.

    Friends who saw me said I looked pale and my face was bloated. The suicidal ideation did not go away. I contacted the practitioner and was told that I was experiencing a similar effect as if I’d worked out too hard at the gym & my brain was sore. When these very distressing symptoms did not subside over the weekend (plus I now couldn’t sleep but two hours a night) the practitioner offered me another qEEG which he said indicated improvement.

    I trusted my experience over his words. Something was very wrong. Rather than helping, the practitioner started distancing himself, which is when I learned that the BCIA is not a self-policing group, it merely indicates a certain type and level of training. I wasn’t sure if perhaps I was experiencing brain inflammation and quickly underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy, to no noticeable effect.

    I shared both of my qEEGs with a supposed “expert” who declared that they were contaminated by poor technique and/but proceeded to give me a dire list of pre-and post-Neurofield treatment brain effects based on his analysis. At last tally I have spent many thousands of dollars seeking treatment to reverse the negative effects from this device. In the wake of that treatment (it’s been 14 months), I have essentially “lost” the person whom I used to be and whom I liked a lot.

    I lost creative abilities I thought were intrinsic to who I am and upon which I had built a career. I lost lifetime interests as anhedonia set in. In place of my previous optimism is almost continual negative chatter. My ability to feel empathy is diminished. I struggle most days against suicidal ideation. And worst of all: I allowed someone to do this to me! The practitioner refunded my treatment money, but that’s nothing compared to what I lost.

    • Distraught, I chose NeurOptimal for my family and now for my business because unlike other types of neurofeedback, NeurOptimal does not push the brain and the training benefits do not depend on trainer expertise. NeurOptimal is different in that it only provides information to the brain about what the brain is doing and it allows the brain to sort itself out in the way that is best for that individual. Think of a mirror that merely reflects information without judgement.

      NeurOptimal is easy and safe enough for home users and is therefore very affordable. In 4 years I have seen all sorts of positive transformations in my clients and no horror stories like the ones I am reading here. I rent and sell systems for home use and home users report outcomes just as incredible as those who train in the office. We rent systems for $800.00/month 25 sessions ($32.00 a session), it is really the most affordable way to go, and because it doesn’t push the brain with protocols you don’t risk mishaps of over-training.

      All that said, I was offered a free demo with a pulsed electromagnetic device (BEMER) and it COMPLETELY messed me up, I was mentally incapacitated for weeks and many NeurOptimal sessions on myself was the only thing that helped. I would stay the heck away from those things!!!

    • Did you ever regain that lost creativity, even just a few months after your post date? Asking because I may have put my own creative talents at risk/lost them completely because of the same issue: slightly botched neurofeedback.

  23. I had a one off session in the UK on the Neuro Optimal Neurofeedback. I found it difficult to sleep after it and when I did get off to sleep I awoke in the night with a feeling of anxiety/fear in my stomach and then experienced some strange paranoid thoughts. I was staying in a guest house and I began to think the person running the place could not be trusted.

    I knew at the same time that this was crazy and tried to shake off the thoughts. I eventually did and the thoughts seem to go away. I an quite a sensitive person as I had bad neurological reaction to an anti biotic a few years ago. Maybe I’m an unusual case?

    I am unsure about the product because I’ve read that volitional Neurofeeback is reported to be safer than non-volitional which is the Neuro Optimal training. Any thoughts on this are welcome. Neuro Optimal, like the others claim there are no side effects – looks like it depends who you are.

    • Hi Ellen, I have used NeurOptimal on myself, my family, my friends and coworkers and hundreds of clients over the last 4 years and I have 5 rental units that I rent out for home training, I have seen incredible transformations in people of all ages with all sorts of ailments and I can confidently reassure you that it does not cause negative side effects. NeurOptimal does not push the brain one way or another, it does not do anything to you, all it does is provide auditory feedback alerting your brain to observe its own activity, and self adjust as it sees fit.

      Sometimes, for some people the process can be a little bumpy, I equate it to cleaning out a garage, in some cases all the junk goes straight to the curb, in others, boxes are opened and sorted through perhaps bringing a trip through memory lane. Sometimes people revisit an old ailment or feeling or memory but it’s always different, sort of more detached as your brain sorts through stuff. In those cases, it’s never new symptoms or side effects, it’s always something from the past and people always get past any temporary discomfort that might bring fairly quickly.

      In the few cases where I have had a client experience a bumpy ride it has always been some issue they thought they had dealt with years ago but it temporarily resurfaced before moving on. In 2 cases, people with OCD experienced feeling unsettled because of the feeling of loss or foreign feeling of calmness that accompanied the shifts in their OCD behaviors/habits (uncomfortable with too much change too fast). In that case slowing down or taking a break from training was helpful. This has been my experience, I hope you find this helpful! Nikki

  24. I have been suffering from PTSD symptoms since I was a small child. I have my first neurofeedback just this past Friday. I did experience a placebo effect. I have experienced head pressure and headaches. My anxiety did increased by 160% on my second visit just this morning. I remain optimistic as I’ve been told this is common.

  25. My autistic daughter, who had never been dizzy in her life even though she would spin for hours, now gets dizzy after doing neurofeedback. I find that fascinating, and hope it’s a sign of good things happening in her brain??

  26. I had 2 neurofeedback sessions in 3 days with a leading expert. I did not sleep at all after the first session, slept only a few hours the next night, did not sleep at all the third night. When I reported what I consider the severe side effect of insomnia, I was told that in 48 (!) years of doing neurofeedback, she had never encountered this effect. BTW, I had NEVER experienced 3 nights in a row of insomnia nor the extemely strung-out feeling that resulted from it. I did not go back.

    • I had one neurofeedback session as a demonstration, but that night I woke up after only 4 hours of sleep. After 3 nights of this, I went back and she quipped, “We GAVE you a sleep disorder” hooked me up again and that night I could not FALL asleep from 11p til 4am. Slept 2 hours. Called her to discuss options and she said I was “an anomaly” and perhaps my brain is “flipped” because I am left-handed?

      It has been nearly 7 weeks now and I still wake up every night after only 4 -5 hours of sleep no matter what I do. I bike ride 70 miles and used to sleep 9 & 1/2 hours. Now I sleep 5. Really frustrating and cumulative affects. Unfortunately, while this NFB may help many, it is still a risk for some and we are not well-documented. Any suggestions??

      • I’m having the exact same problem. I’ve had 2 neurofeedback sessions for my anxiety / over aroused brain. I had the session 3 days ago, and the last 2 nights I wake up after about 3-4 hours and can’t go back to sleep even though I’m yawning and feel exhausted. To anyone who’s experienced similar things please tell me this will pass?

        • Hi Tanner, I’m sorry to hear about your experience with neurofeedback. Did the negative side effects disappear over time? I’ve had 8 sessions and have not been able to fall asleep and/or stay asleep for more than a couple hours each night, for the past few days. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      • Hi Nancy, I’m sorry to hear about your experience with neurofeedback. Did the negative side effects disappear over time? I’ve had 8 sessions and have not been able to fall asleep and/or stay asleep for more than a couple hours each night, for the past few days. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Sstansky, I’m sorry to hear about your experience with neurofeedback. Did the negative side effects disappear over time? I’ve had 8 sessions and have not been able to fall asleep and/or stay asleep for more than a couple hours each night, for the past few days. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  27. Good article. However, I believe you should mention sleep problems in your list. I have suffered from this after 6 sessions of NFB, and see in other articles that it is frequently mentioned. I have discontinued my sessions. Wish I would have done more research before, including reading your article.

  28. I know someone who went through Alpha/Theta neurofeedback and now their anxiety has gotten worse. They did “normal” neurofeedback sessions for like 70 times. How does one “undo” the Alpha Theta training?

    • Theoretically the training could be overridden by regular training with a more competent neurofeedback practitioner. If the anxiety has worsened after increasing slow waves, a decrease of these ranges may be necessary… that “someone” you know may be experiencing something similar to brain fog/slow thinking in the slower wave state or even relaxation-induced anxiety.

      70 sessions is a massive amount… and since neurofeedback involves “learning” by the user as to how he/she can generate certain neuroelectrical activation, preexisting learning may need to be overridden by adapting to a better protocol. Another second option would be to simply avoid neurofeedback for awhile and hope that neuroelectrical activation reverts to pre-neurofeedback homeostasis. A prolonged period of no neurofeedback may result in the user forgetting how to mediate their brain waves.

      It is also possible that adaptogenic herbs and/or caffeine may help reset or optimize neuroelectrical activity. All that said, it is relatively disconcerting that neurofeedback practitioners and/or the layperson considers neurofeedback “completely safe” and devoid of potential side effects; this is illogical. Just like neurofeedback can be used to train a person to generate brain waves that enhance their ability to function, a suboptimally-crafted protocol for a particular person may be of substantial detriment to his/her functionality.

      It is this reason that I am not “gung-ho” neurofeedback and recommend those considering it to proceed with caution. Wishing the “someone” you know the best in their attempt to reverse the unwanted emotional imbalances caused by neurofeedback. Good luck.

  29. My 31 year old son went through an initial and only neurofeedback treatment, for depression and anxiety, in June this year. He immediately began to experience severe head pressure on the sides and back of his head; that symptom has continued daily since the treatment, at times with less severity but constant. He has been to doctors and is currently seeing on an ongoing basis a neurologist.

    Doctors have said that it was not the neurofeedback treatment that caused the pressure headache, merely coincidental. He’s tried numerous over the counter medicines and none have helped. He’s had several neurological exams, including an MRI, and all are negative. He’s tried a topical heat treatment and physical therapy but to no avail.

    His neurologist is thinking of prescribing Topamax (topirimate) an anti seizure drug sometimes used to treat pressure headaches. Anyone on this site who has experienced a similar reaction to neurofeedback? If so, did you find a way to treat this head pressure ache? Dave

  30. I started Micro current Neurofeedback with a doctor about a month ago. There was no QEEG done before hand. I was told it would help with my depression/anxiety/anger and insomnia. The Dr. quickly “trained” someone else for about a week or two before he took over completely. I have been getting very bad headaches, have been more depressed than ever and am a mess in general.

    They tell me this has nothing to do with my sessions but after reading your article I am going to stop treatment with them. Now my brain is more screwed up than ever, I don’t know if time will help or if I should go to someone with much more experience. Thank you, Michael

    • Dear Michael, I know your comment regarding your Neurofeedback treatment is from 2015, but I’d be eternally grateful if you could tell me if the negative symptoms subsided.

      I personally finished ‘training’ 7 months ago and have had a perpetual brain fog ever since that is really ruining my life even though everything should be great. Please let me know if the symptoms you describe went away.

      Many thanks for you taking a moment to help a stranger. Nicholas

      • Hi Michael

        Hi Nicholas, I would be grateful if you could tell me whether your brain fog has improved since your neurofeedback training. I developed brain fog symptoms after having 12 sessions of neurofeedback 18 months ago, and so far it has not improved.

        Many thanks

        • Hi,

          It’s been two and half years for me since the neurofeedback. I tried it after brain trauma and believe it made symptoms worse. There has been alot of improvement since then. The remaining symptoms could just be from the brain trauma though. I would not go back to neurofeedback


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