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Can meditation alone treat ADD/ADHD?

Hey everyone, so these disorders have been quite a heated debate amongst a lot of people lately and I'm just wondering what your opinion is on the matter. I was diagnosed with ADD rather late at the age of 19 after finally recognizing my concentration and focus just wasn't up to par a few years ago. I've been prescribed dexedrine and while it worked I have recently stopped taking them since I don't see being on amphetamines all the time as a healthy way of dealing with it.

I was wondering though that maybe a lot of the problems people with ADD/ADHD deal with is caused by simply not being present and it does make sense. Daydreaming, unconsciousness, lack of focus and inability to hold concentration and focus are things which are addressed by a meditation practice right? So what do you think? Are medications the wrong way to go? Can the mind be trained enough to reduce/eliminate the symptoms caused by ADD/ADHD?

Comments

  • Meditation doesn't have a goal of curing illlness, but it might work also. Give it a try.
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited November 2013
    IMO - and in the least complicated and less wordy way possible, I say this:

    ** Never go off any prescribed meds without your doctor's knowledge and monitoring.
    ** No, meditation is not a 'cure' for real, physiological illnesses or mental imbalances or illness.

    So don't play around with your health & well-being. Talk to your doctor about your meds and ask what are the long term goals (or reality) for eventually getting off them - gradually, the 'right' way.

    Invincible_summerEvenThird
  • I have gotten into meditation before I went off medication and in no way do I see it as a "definite cure". It just struck me that meditating helps to cultivate skills someone with ADD or ADHD can really benefit from. Also, health is the reason I got off the medication. There is a billion dollar industry behind these med's and I consider myself well-informed enough to have made the decision to cease taking these pills. I don't want to end up with neurotoxicity when I am older.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Having dealt with hundreds of ADD/ADHD kids over the years, in my view you keep taking the meds. It is more likely some meditation will help in some peripheral ways.
    MaryAnne
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited November 2013
    The fact is, having ADD/ADHD means your ability to concentrate, focus and stay focused is below "normal" capabilities, (without meds), and that means that meditation will likely be that much more difficult to do, and less successful in "honing" those very skills; resulting in probably not working to eliminate the symptoms of ADD/ADHD in the first place....


    edited to add:
    Going off your meds without doctor's knowelege - (before or after starting meditation; it doesn't matter) - is one issue. Thinking/asking about meditation alone being a treatment for ADD/ADHD is another issue.
  • blu3reeblu3ree Veteran
    edited November 2013
    meditation will help. i too was diagnosed with add adhd in my case it was just doctors trying to get more money. i took them shortly then after deciding that they were not a good way of fixing the problem i stopped. everyone has something wrong with them and nothing is perfect.

    the way i see it, amphetamines are not a very good solution to actually doing anything worthwhile as there can be numerous health problems linked to taking them. a diagnosing of the milligrams seems to be based on how you talked to your doctor and how he perceived what you said. ive known people who were prescribed 60mg adderoll who weighed less than 160 pounds. seems like a good way to getting kidney failure sure you may have all A's in school but your kidneys are failing. now you have to take 3 more medications for your kidneys liver and your blood which all have side effects as well.

    whats the downside to stopping taking them having add/adhd which you already had in the first place?

    my advice is seek out some food/herbs as well as meditation. ashwagandha is an indian herb used in Ayurveda. i bought some from a health foods store near me and i will vouch that it definitely has helped me to adapt to the stress of a new job odd work schedule and to memorize some of the items i am responsible for stocking at the store i work at!

    the more time spent in meditation the more refined the mind will become.

    http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/ayurvedic-herbs-foods/ashwagandha
  • There's a biofeedback program called "Neurofeedback" that successfully treats ADD/ADHD. It's not covered by insurance, though insurance companies are beginning to consider it. Google it. It has a high rate of success.
  • Woah93 said:

    Daydreaming, unconsciousness, lack of focus and inability to hold concentration and focus are things which are addressed by a meditation practice right?

    Yes, but these are also hindrances to meditation.
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited November 2013
    "Concentration" in meditation and concentration as we usually understand it are two very different terms. The translation 'concentration' was first put up by someone who only translated texts and didn't meditate and as a result it is quite a bad translation in my opinion. It implies all sorts of things that it shouldn't.

    That said, don't underestimate the power of the mind and what it can do and change with deep meditation. I personally have much more faith in meditation than in medicine in many cases, but look at your own case personally and don't let my opinion change yours.

    By the way, the things you mention to me seem very humanly. I think most people have trouble with those things without a specific cause. If those are the only symptoms I would apparently need a diagnosis too! ;)
    blu3ree
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Can meditation alone treat ADD/ADHD?
    Perhaps.
    Study (Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 737-746) suggests the benefits of mindfulness for adolescents and adults with attention deficits.

    Seventy-eight percent of participants reported a reduction in total ADHD symptoms, with 30% reporting at least a 30% symptom reduction (a 30% reduction in symptoms is often used to identify clinically significant improvement in ADHD medication trials).
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alvaro-fernandez/study-meditation-against_b_103534.html
    New study shows Transcendental Meditation improves brain functioning in ADHD students

    A random-assignment controlled study published today in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry (Vol 2, No 1) found improved brain functioning and decreased symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, in students practicing the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique.

    In conclusion, these findings warrant additional research to assess the impact of Transcendental Meditation practice as a non-drug treatment for ADHD.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-07/muom-nss072611.php
    "What's the core issue of attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD)? For many adults and children with ADHD, it's paying attention. So it stands to reason that some kind of attention training would be just what the doctor ordered.

    Well, there is such a thing. It's been around for thousands of years, and it's now a hot research topic at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Recently, ADDitude's Carl Sherman, Ph.D., spoke with psychiatrist Lidia Zylowska, M.D., who heads the center's ADHD program.

    "What if you just can't keep your mind focused? Will the exercise still do any good?

    It’s the nature of the mind to be distracted. Mindful awareness isn’t about staying with the breath, but about returning to the breath. That’s what enhances your ability to focus. http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1475.html
    The returning vs staying, that is a very important distinction!
    FullCircle
  • seeker242 said:

    Can meditation alone treat ADD/ADHD?
    Perhaps.
    Study (Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 737-746) suggests the benefits of mindfulness for adolescents and adults with attention deficits.

    Seventy-eight percent of participants reported a reduction in total ADHD symptoms, with 30% reporting at least a 30% symptom reduction (a 30% reduction in symptoms is often used to identify clinically significant improvement in ADHD medication trials).
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alvaro-fernandez/study-meditation-against_b_103534.html


    Though in that study most of the participants were also on medication.
    MaryAnne
  • Woah93 said:


    So what do you think? Are medications the wrong way to go? Can the mind be trained enough to reduce/eliminate the symptoms caused by ADD/ADHD?

    If i were you i'd check some sources like pubmed and such for publications on the topic.

    You should understand that a diagnosis is a description. It is like a doctor saying "I see X".
    It is only relevant if it improves the life of the patient (and sometimes the patients relatives). The same, consequently, goes for the drugs. So, do the medications improve the quality of your life?

    The diagnosis does not say anything about the cause. Causes are explored in other ways, either by means of psychology, biochemistry, statistics, etc. Treatment options are then suggested and assessed in trials based on the knowledge of what might be happening. The cause of something is never completely known (the human body is still greatly unexplored, especially the brain, with which no one wants to mess with - any experiments and observation are hard to do for obvious reasons).

    Now how the way the brain "learns" is by making some sinapses (connections) stronger, and others weaker. Whatever you experience (as a person - sensory experience gets translated to chemical signals in the nervous system) or ingest (which may be a chemical signal in itself), will do this in the same way, but every experience or chemical will do it on different neurons and pathways (groups of neurons that work together). Therefore i don't think you should dismiss your treatments on the ground that it is "amphetamines". It is not an inherently bad thing. You always have to ask yourself, whether your life was better without them, or did it improve with them.

    Which works for most things, really :)
    vinlynrobotJeffrey
  • mithrilmithril Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Woah93 said:

    ... I have recently stopped taking them since I don't see being on amphetamines all the time as a healthy way of dealing with it.

    Another thing occurred to me as I have re-read your post. If the drugs work for you but you are worried about side effects, it may help to talk about it with your doctor. Most countries have set up agencies which prescribe and enforce strict rules under which drugs are allowed to enter the market, and there is data collected about it in trials (even if they are allowed to enter there may be data about side effects). Dexedrine is not a particularly new drug, so there may be trials in existence about its long term use (with new drugs, often, nobody really knows whether they are harmful or not; it is not that the drug developers and doctors are evil, it is just not possible to know - it just didn't exist before, but may seem to work "so far" :-/). So maybe try to find this data (it may be more accessible to the doctor - hence the suggestion to ask him; various such services may require professional authentication or payed subscriptions).

  • Sabre said:


    By the way, the things you mention to me seem very humanly. I think most people have trouble with those things without a specific cause. If those are the only symptoms I would apparently need a diagnosis too! ;)

    I get what you are saying but this is like talking to a person who is depressed and saying: "Aww kid everyone is sad once in a while, snap out of it!" Sure most people have trouble focussing or concentrating but in my case I have trouble the moment I wake up till the moment I go to sleep. It's like a never-ending whirlwind in my head and those meds quiet the storm so to speak.

    The reason I made this thread is I have noticed "the storm" quiets down a lot after meditation and I found it does help empty my head so maybe it can be used as an alternative treatment. I know dexedrine isn't bad per se but I know how they work and I have studied about brain chemistry and the way serotonin and dopamine works and having my dopamine boosted by a substance over the long-term worries me. I have not found a study about the long-term effects on the brain yet but I have read some that show neurotoxic effects from amphetamine use which cause inability to focus and concentrate which would mean that in the future I will be worse off then I am now.
  • My step niece said it was a little hard to get off of because life didn't have the same greatness.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    seeker242 said:

    Can meditation alone treat ADD/ADHD?
    Perhaps.
    Study (Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 737-746) suggests the benefits of mindfulness for adolescents and adults with attention deficits.

    Seventy-eight percent of participants reported a reduction in total ADHD symptoms, with 30% reporting at least a 30% symptom reduction (a 30% reduction in symptoms is often used to identify clinically significant improvement in ADHD medication trials).
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alvaro-fernandez/study-meditation-against_b_103534.html


    Though in that study most of the participants were also on medication.

    They were! And they noted that the meditation added benefits above and beyond the pills. Of course not enough research has been done yet to give any firm conclusions, hence the perhaps. But if pills are giving you a 30% reduction and meditation is giving you a 30% reduction. With all else being equal, just meditation could be equal to just pills. More research is certainly necessary.
    Jeffrey
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited November 2013
    seeker242 said:


    Though in that study most of the participants were also on medication.

    They were! And they noted that the meditation added benefits above and beyond the pills. Of course not enough research has been done yet to give any firm conclusions, hence the perhaps. But if pills are giving you a 30% reduction and meditation is giving you a 30% reduction. With all else being equal, just meditation could be equal to just pills. More research is certainly necessary.
    Sure, though I suspect that without medication to manage symptoms then the meditation would have been very difficult for the participants in this study.
    I agree about more research being necessary. This study was small-scale and short-term, and it looks as if there wasn't a control group or longer-term follow-up. It seems there was a short-term benefit to the participants, perhaps due to the calming effect of mindfulness of breathing - though I suspect these benefits weren't maintained subsequently.
    Also I'm not sure what work has been done on other psychological therapies, eg relaxation techniques, cognitive therapy, alternative therapy, etc.

    There are also questions around the possible over-diagnosing of these conditions, and the possible over-prescribing of drugs like Ritalin.
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