For many individuals—especially those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention-deficit disorder (ADD)—staying “on task” can be a challenge. Though medications are commonly used as a first line treatment for these conditions, research has shown the benefits may only last for a few years. University of California, Irvine scientist Dr. James M. Swanson even reports that pharmacological interventions for ADHD offer no lasting, long-term benefits. Because of this, researchers have been on the lookout for non-drug treatments to improve mindfulness, and it appears meditation may be one useful approach.
Mindful meditation is the process of sitting silently and focusing on your breathing. If you notice your attention starting to wander, return your focus to your breath. Not only will this help you relax but this practice may improve the connections in the brain circuitry that are responsible for maintaining focus. Dr. Swanson notes that individuals with ADHD/ADD appear to have reduced activity in this area of the brain.
In one study that included 50 adults with ADD, researchers observed that those who participated in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) achieved comparable results to standard medications for ADHD/ADD with respect to motivation and inhibitory regulation.
In a 2017 study involving 82 patients with anxiety, researchers found that just ten minutes of mindful meditation helped participants stay better focused on their daily tasks. Researcher Dr. Mengran Xu adds, “Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals.”
Mindfulness can also reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, which can also benefit individuals with ADHD/ADD, as the conditions can often co-exist. In one study, researchers found that engaging in one hour of mindful meditation not only reduced anxiety symptoms but also reduced stress and improved arterial function. Doctors of chiropractic often include meditation concepts as part of their treatment recommendations, especially in the promotion of prevention and wellness.