What Are the Benefits of Meditation for ADHD?

Debra Barnhart
Debra Barnhart
Difficulty concentrating may be a sign of ADHD in children.
Difficulty concentrating may be a sign of ADHD in children.

Meditation is a complementary treatment that can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a common psychiatric disorder that can affect both children and adults. Its symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, problems with impulse control and repeated movement and talking. Meditation for ADHD counteracts these symptoms by increasing concentration, soothing the mind’s anxious thoughts and stimulating better self-understanding and discipline.

Meditation may lead to an improved attention span.
Meditation may lead to an improved attention span.

Treatments for ADHD usually rely on stimulant drugs. These drugs, although they are effective, can also have side effects for some patients. Some information about meditation for ADHD suggests that, unlike the drugs that are prescribed for ADHD, meditation can actually improve or cure ADHD.

Studies have shown promising results among adults and children who used meditation for ADHD. Many people reported that they experienced fewer ADHD symptoms when meditating on a regular basis. In addition to improved attention, patients showed better organization and memory skills. Some found that they slept better, had less anxiety and had better personal interactions. When both parents and children practiced meditation, some parents said that they felt more composed and better able to deal with their children's behavior.

Depression is sometimes an associated issue with ADHD. Meditation is thought to have a powerful effect on brain function in the left prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that is related to happiness and other positive emotions. Meditation also influences the brain’s gamma waves, which are key to effective concentration — a major roadblock for people who suffer from ADHD. Other health benefits of meditation include lessened anxiety, lowered blood pressure and elimination of harmful habits.

Meditation for ADHD can be accomplished through a variety of techniques. Most forms of meditation rely on having the practitioner bring his or her attention to a focal point. This focal point could be breath, a sound, a word or something visual, such as a candle flame. Meditation is most often practiced in a quiet, secluded place, but it is possible to do "walking meditation" in which the practitioner focuses on the act of walking and the surrounding scenery, or "eating meditation" in which the practitioner focuses on the experience of each mouthful of food.

The tradition of meditation arises from many religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. Meditation for ADHD does not necessarily demand that the novice practitioner try to avoid the ever-present chatter of his or her thoughts. Some forms of meditation require the practitioner to sit calmly and watch each thought form and dissipate as if he or she were a bystander. One of the major obstacles for the patient practicing meditation for ADHD is managing to sit quietly without moving for a period of time, but through consistent meditation, it is possible for the mind’s chatter to quiet down and for inner calm to take its place.

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    • Difficulty concentrating may be a sign of ADHD in children.
      By: Wojciech Sobiech
      Difficulty concentrating may be a sign of ADHD in children.
    • Meditation may lead to an improved attention span.
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      Meditation may lead to an improved attention span.