Meditation, breathing ... mindfulness-based therapies may be helpful in reducing ADHD symptoms in adults such as hyperactivity or impulsivity, according to a Canadian study.


Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) is a disorder, a syndrome that appears during childhood, mostly in boys, and associates three symptoms whose intensity varies according to the person: attention, motor hyperactivity (incessant agitation, inability to stay still ...), and impulsivity. Its causes remain unknown to this day while its treatment still begins with non-drug measures. But if this remains insufficient, a psychostimulant drug may be prescribed in certain cases. However, pharmacotherapy has its limits and is not well tolerated by some individuals due to adverse reactions.

"This is why it is important to look at new non-pharmacological therapies to treat symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity, including those based on mindfulness," explain researchers at the University of Montreal. They have just published a meta-analysis of 14 studies conducted on this topic among 834 adults with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity. Their findings indicate that mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and body visualization, help adults with the condition reduce their symptoms.

Few studies of adults

Its objective was to identify existing studies in the scientific literature on the effects of mindfulness approaches on ADHD symptoms, depression and executive functions in diagnosed adults. The team looked at 700 studies after querying the various databases, and only retained 14. "We found that few studies met our selection criteria," note the researchers. Several were duplicates, others were not related to mindfulness or were not conducted with subjects with ADHD or involved only children or mixed young people with adults. "

Of the 14 studies analyzed, 11 concluded that mindfulness approaches significantly reduced inattention and hyperactivity or impulsivity. In addition, it appeared that the age of the participants influenced the results, which suggests that adults, compared to children, "may have a better understanding of their condition and therefore be more involved in their treatment than children" , they add. The length of treatment (6 to 96 hours) and the level of experience of therapists (clinical psychologists, mindfulness instructors, nurses, graduate students in psychology) also varied considerably from study to study.

Reduction of symptoms of anxiety and depression

The studies reviewed also showed that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in treating ADHD symptoms in adults and in reducing anxiety and the intensity of depression. "These approaches have been shown to be effective against depression and now we know they can also have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms," conclude the researchers, for whom "this new therapeutic strategy should be further recommended. This study adds to the body of research highlighting the benefits of mindfulness-based therapies, including meditation, for anxiety, depression and insomnia.

In July 2017, a study published by Inserm in the journal Scientific Reports thus affirmed that meditation could improve aging. For this study, 73 people with an average age of 65 had brain imaging tests. Among them, “meditation experts” (15,000 to 30,000 hours of meditation to their credit) had significant differences in certain regions of the brain. However, it is by allowing a reduction in stress, anxiety, negative emotions and sleep problems which tend to be accentuated with age that meditation could reduce the harmful effects of these factors and have a positive effect on brain aging.