Can mindfulness help with ADHD? Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a promising approach for ADHD. The treatment provides the patient with an explanation for her symptoms, as well as information about the brain and ADHD. Behavioral interventions are provided to build executive function skills such as planning, time management, or problem solving. With cognitive methods, patients learn to identify and change problematic thinking patterns. In addition to the cognitive behavioral interventions, patients engage in mindfulness, which is a form of mental training that can improve neuropsychological deficits in ADHD, such as attention control and emotion regulation, by strengthening the brain regions believed to underlie these deficits.
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder of brain development, that is typically diagnosed in childhood. Characteristics of ADHD include inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behaviors.
Symptoms of ADHD can include:
Forgetting or losing things frequently
Making careless mistakes
Taking unnecessary risks
Current Treatments for ADHD
Current treatments manage symptoms with medications such as stimulants that produce adverse side effects. Medication only reduces symptoms and does not target executive function or teach coping skills. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy improves executive function, attention, and provides children with a powerful coping skills to use during time of stress.
Can Mindfulness Help with ADHD?
Mindfulness interventions aim to improve attention to and awareness of present moment experience. There has been a dramatic increase in research of mindfulness interventions over the past two decades especially in the field of mental health.
A study in 2018 looked at the effectiveness of mindfulness for behavior and emotional dysregulation symptoms in adults with ADHD. The results showed a decrease in problem behaviors following the mindfulness intervention.
Research offers promising evidence that mindfulness can improve mental and physical health, cognitive and affective factors. Science indicates that mindfulness interventions improve the management of pain, and decrease depression, stress, and anxiety.
Bachmann K, Lam AP, Philipsen A. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and the Adult ADHD Brain: A Neuropsychotherapeutic Perspective. Front Psychiatry. 2016 Jun 27;7:117. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00117. PMID: 27445873; PMCID: PMC4921925.
Creswell, D., 2017, Mindfulness Interventions Annual Review of Psychology 2017 68:1, 491-516
Mitchell JT, McIntyre EM, English JS, et al. A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for adhd in adulthood: impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotion dysregulation.J. Atten Disord. 2017; 21(13):1105—1120. doi: 10.1177/1087054713513328