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More PsychNotes: Mindfulness and Relaxation Methods

Mindfulness Training Shows Promise for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

A number of studies show that mindful techniques can help reduce the problems associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Research is still in the early stages and more is necessary to draw strong conclusions. However, this early research is promising in showing that mindfulness training can improve attention and behavioral control among those with ADHD.

A study that examined mindfulness training for adults with ADHD showed not only improved ADHD symptoms but also a comparison with medication indicated that mindfulness training can be just as effective as medication for controlling the symptoms. Measuring biomarkers (amplitudes of event-related potentials on the EEG) in the brain associated with ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention showed that mindfulness training improved the neurophysiological indicators for motivation, awareness of errors, and inhibiting impulsivity (Schoenberg, et al., 2014).

Another study showed that attending two 50 minute Tai Chi classes with a mindful emphasis twice a week for 15 weeks improved ADHD indicators in healthy young adults showing the possibility of Tai Chi training to aid with managing the symptom of inattention (Converse et al., 2014). From my own training in Tai Chi, I understand that 15 weeks is a relatively short time that only allows learning the fundamentals and that if changes are noticeable in that time period additional practice will only enhance the control over the symptoms. When I say it is a relatively short time, I mean it is the difference between learning how to play a game such as baseball and becoming proficient at it. A person can learn the fundamentals in a few months but have not mastered the game.

Again, it needs to be stressed as with other techniques, mindfulness is not something you do for a few months and expect the changes to last if you quit. Similar to exercise or even taking medication, you need to continue mindfulness as a lifestyle practice for it to continue to assist with controlling symptoms.

To begin your mindfulness training, listen to the Understanding Mindfulness audios.

Converse, A.K., Ahlers, E.O., Travers, B.G. and Davidson, R.J. (2014) Tai chi training reduces self-report of inattention in healthy young adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:13. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00013

Schoenber, P.L.A., Hepark, S., Kan, C.C., Barendregt, H.P., Buitelaar, J.K. and Speckens, A.E.M. (2014). Effects of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy on Neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Clinical Neurophysiology, 125, 1407-1416.

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More PsychNotes
Mindfulness and Relaxation Methods
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The Benefits of Mindfully Washing Dishes
The Difference Between Mindful Focus and a Mindful Attitude
Mindfulness Training Shows Promise for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Mindfulness and Managing Chronic Pain
How We Might Stop Bullying: Kindness Curriculum for Preschoolers
Practicing Loving-Kindness May Elicit Resentments
How Mindfulness Can Reduce Risk for Alzheimer's and Heart Disease
Mindful Attention to Unhealthy Foods Improves Food Choices
Want an Easy and Uplifting Health Practice? Laughing Qigong
Mindful Dating: How Does Mindfulness Affect Satisfaction in Relationships?
10 Everyday Frustrations and a Mindful Attitude
What is the Difference Between Mindful Acceptance and Emotional Suppression?
Mindful Attention Reduces Anger for Those With Borderline Personality Disorder
The Paradox of the Mindful Attitude
The Key to Mindful Breathing for Sleep
Addiction to Emotions and Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness Practice is Not Focusing, It is Re-Focusing
How Much Should You Practice Mindfulness?
For Fun--Try Being Mindful About the Weather
What Could Be More Mindful Than a Cat Watching Bird Videos?
Wisdom Doesn't Come In Sound Bites
Qigong Can Reduce Depression
Demands vs. Mindfulness for Enhancing Performance
Acceptance as the Basis for Wisdom?
“I want to feel good NOW!”
The 20-Minute a Day Miracle
Be the Best You Can Be: On Mindfulness and Performance
Being Mindful of Emotions Decreases Intensity
Massage: Effects on Anxiety, Depression, and Pain
Mindfulness and Flow in the Workplace
Mindfulness May Prevent Relapse
Is Mindfulness-Based Therapy Effective?
Qi Gong Exercise Shown to Improve Mood
Mindfulness Skills Can Improve Relationships