Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Since poor attention functioning is a core symptom of ADHD and executive functioning deficits in ADHD are common, mindfulness meditation that purportedly strengthen these processes help the ADHD symptoms and treatments.
One landmark UCLA study found that people with ADHD who attended a mindfulness meditation session once a week for 2 1/2 hours, then completed a daily home meditation practice that gradually increased from 5 to 15 minutes over 8 weeks, were better able to stay focused on tasks. They were also less depressed and anxious. Other studies since then have had similar results
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) core skills include: Mindfulness and distress tolerance skills help you work toward acceptance of your thoughts and behaviors. Emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness skills help you work toward changing your thoughts and behaviors.
DBT main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.
DBT is now the go-to treatment for improving emotional regulation skills, in those diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD. DBT rests on scientifically sound behavioral and cognitive strategies, and incorporates skills like mindfulness and acceptance principles.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has developed to help people learn strategies to live life more in the present, more focused on important values and goals, and less focused on painful thoughts, feelings and experiences.
ACT teaches people how to engage with and overcome painful thoughts and feelings through acceptance and mindfulness techniques, to develop self-compassion and flexibility, and to build life-enhancing patterns of behavior.
ACT is not about overcoming pain or fighting emotions; it's about embracing life and feeling everything it has to offer. It offers a way out of suffering by choosing to live a life based on what matters most.
ACT acknowledges that the intrinsic importance of a task and the rewards (pleasure) a person gets from accomplishing the task aren't enough to motivate many of those with ADHD to take action. ACT solves the problem by having the patient focus on values, not the importance of a task, to spur motivation.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a form of therapy that focuses on solutions instead of on problems.
A short-term goal-focused evidence-based therapeutic approach which helps clients change by constructing solutions rather than dwelling on problems. In the most basic sense, SFBT is a hope friendly, positive emotion eliciting, future-oriented vehicle for formulating, motivating, achieving, and sustaining desired behavioral change.
An important part of SFBT is helping the patient identify what has and hasn’t worked in the past when dealing with a particular challenge. The therapist then encourages the patient to do more of “what works for them” as he moves toward his goal.
SFBT actively works toward solutions. It helps patients identify what they do well. It then encourages them to use their strengths to reach their goals.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving.
The core areas worked on are (1) psychoeducation and organizing/planning, (2) coping with distractibility, and (3) adaptive thinking. The optional modules are (4) addressing procrastination and (5) involvement of a partner or spouse.
In recent years, CBT programs have been developed specifically for adults with ADHD. Some of these programs aim to help adults overcome their difficulties in everyday executive functions that are needed to effectively manage time, organize and plan in the short term and the long term. Other programs focus on emotional self-regulation, impulse control and stress management.
Meditation & Yoga Encouraged
Meditation is thought to help with ADHD because it thickens your prefrontal cortex, a part of your brain that's involved in focus, planning, and impulse control. It also raises your brain's level of dopamine, which is in short supply in ADHD brains.
Mindfulness meditation develops the individual’s inner skills. It improves your ability to control your attention by helping to strengthen your ability to self-observe, to train attention, and to develop different relationships to experiences that are stressful. In other words, it teaches you to pay attention to paying attention, and can also make people more aware of their emotional state, so they won’t react impulsively.
Yoga has been shown to help improve ADHD symptoms, too, although most of the research has been done with children. Like mindfulness meditation, it ups dopamine levels and strengthens the prefrontal cortex. One study found that kids who practiced yoga moves for 20 minutes twice a week for 8 weeks improved on tests that measure attention and focus.