Mindfulness practice is essentially attention training, so is it a surprise that people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can improve their attention skills with mindfulness practice?
Psychologists from Sao Paulo, Brazil found that adults with ADHD improved their mood, quality of life and attention after an 8 week mindfulness course. There were 21 people with ADHD and 8 healthy controls who underwent 8 weekly mindfulness practice sessions. The group was compared with 22 people with ADHD and 9 controls who did not undergo the intervention. Mindfulness practice resulted in enhanced sustained attention, and improved mood and quality of life. The authors concluded that mindfulness practice is a complementary intervention.
The study has a number of limitations, it was not a randomised study, which is the gold standard for evaluating interventions. Secondly the study in effect compared mindfulness with no intervention. The authors acknowledge this in describing the study design as that of a “quasiexperimental pretest-posttest design”. Large randomized controlled studies are not easy to design and conduct. Despite the limitations of this small study, the findings are of interest. This study adds to the evidence base for the benefits of mindfulness practice in people with ADHD.
The standard intervention for Adult ADHD is methylphenidate which is a stimulant medication. Adverse effects and poor treatment response is a problem with medication. Mindfulness practice could be helpful to those people who prefer non-medication approaches or wish to use mindfulness as a complementary intervention.