New Research on Mindfulness and ADHD


Mindfulness and ADHD – An Evidence-based Non-pharmacological Intervention
Mindfulness was a hot topic at the CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) Conference as well as at Learning and the Brain this past year.
And it’s no wonder! Two recent research studies have examined mindfulness training related to ADHD, adding to other research evidence showing benefits.
Here’s a quick summary of the recent findings: 
The two studies used somewhet different approaches to mindfulness training:
  •  One study used Zylowska’s (2008) mindfulness training program (MAPS), similar to the material in her 2012 book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD (Mitchell, et al., 2013)
  • The other study used a combination of mindfulness techniques derived from both John Kabat Zinn’s well-known Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and from a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) treatment approach, modified for use with ADHD, a therapeutic approach apparently gaining recognition in parts of Europe (Edel, et al., 2014). 
Both groups used a comparison group in examining benefits of mindfulness training:
  • The Mitchell study used a comparison group of individuals on a wait-list for the ADHD mindfulness training.
  • The Edel study compared outcomes of mindfulness training with outcomes of a DBT skills group training including mindfulness and other strategies. 
Both studies demonstrated a reduction in ADHD symptoms with mindfulness training in at least some study participants. 
  • The Mitchell study found a strong effect of mindfulness training on ADHD symptom reduction in a majority of mindfulness training participants as well as improvement in functional impairment in a majority of mindfulness training participants. This study also examined and found improvements in self and clinician reported EF (executive functioning) symptoms and self-reported emotional regulation. Improvements were found in the mindfulness group as compared with those not trained in mindfulness. No improvement in laboratory measurements of EF tasks were observed (apparently a controversial measurement anyway).
  • The Edel study found benefits for approximately 30% of mindfulness trainees; in comparison, training in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) led to benefits for some (11%) but not as many in the comparison group. As an interesting side-note, the Edel (2014) study found that greater improvement in symptoms occurred in both groups for individuals treated with methylphenidate (stimulant). 
Taken together, and in conjunction with Zylowska’s (2008) study showing numerous benefits of mindfulness training for ADHD, empirical evidence is strengthening for the use of mindfulness training as a beneficial intervention for management of ADHD symptoms. 
Interested in mindfulness training for yourself or anyone you know? Information about a nine-session tele-class I offer on mindfulness and ADHD can be found at:
Here are links to the abstracts of the two studies described above: 
(The full articles were both published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.)
Full references: 
Edel, M-A., Holter, T., Wassink, K, & Juckel, G. (10/9/14). A comparison of mindfulness-based group training and skills group training in adults with ADHD.  Journal of Attention Disorders(published online before print).
Mitchell, J.T., McIntyre, E.M. English, J.S. et al. (12/4/13). A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: Impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotional dysregulation. Journal of Attention Disorders(published online before print).
Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D.L., Yang, M. H., at al. (2008) Mindfulness meditation in Adults and adolescents with ADHD: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 237-246. 
Zylowska, L. (2012). The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD. Boston: Trumpeter.
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