Improve Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms in Youth with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms in Youth with Mind-Body Practices


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


mindfulness practice can help us pay attention better, resist distractions, be less impulsive, remember what we are doing in the moment, and regulate our own emotions, it is helpful whether we have ADHD or not. But it holds special interest for those with ADHD.” – Casey Dixon


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most commonly found in children, but for about half it persists into adulthood. It’s estimated that about 5% of the adult population has ADHD. Hence, this is a very large problem that can produce inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and emotional issues, and reduce quality of life. The most common treatment is drugs, like methylphenidate, Ritalin, which helps reducing symptoms in about 30% of the people with ADHD. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the drugs appears to be markedly reduced after the first year. In addition, the drugs often have troublesome side effects, can be addictive, and can readily be abused. So, drugs, at present, do not appear to be a good solution, only affecting some, only for a short time, and with unwanted side effects.


There are indications that mind-body practices training may be an effective treatment for ADHD. It makes sense that it should be, as the skills and abilities strengthened by mind-body practices training are identical to those that are defective in ADHD,  attentionimpulse controlexecutive functionemotion control, and mood improvement. In addition, unlike drugs, they are relatively safe interventions that have minimal troublesome side effects. Since mind-body practices is so promising as treatments, it is important to step back and summarize what has been learned in the scientific research of the effectiveness of mindfulness training for ADHD.


In today’s Research News article “Interventions Based on Mind-Body Therapies for the Improvement of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Youth: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Barranco-Ruiz and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness pf mind-body practices in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They found 12 published randomized trials employing the mind-body practices of school based 8-week mindfulness trainings and yoga practices that were applied to children and adolescents of 5 to 18 years of age.


They found that 11 of the 12 reviewed studies reported significant improvements in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) following mind-body treatment in the youths. There were significant improvements in the symptoms of ADHD including significant increases in attention and planning, and significant decreases in inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, anxiety, shyness, social problems, perfectionism, inhibition, self-reported emotion dysregulation, and depressive symptoms.


These are impressive results. It has been previously shown with disparate healthy and ill populations that mindfulness training produces increases in attention and significant decreases in inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, anxiety, social problems, perfectionism, inhibition, emotion dysregulation, and depression. The present review extends these findings to children and adolescents. This is important as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is highest among children and adolescents. These results suggest that mindfulness training and yoga practices are safe and effective in improving ADHD and its symptoms. Mind-body practices may be an excellent alternative to standard drug treatment.


So, improve Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms in youth with mind-body practices.


Yoga has been shown to help improve ADHD symptoms. . . . 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.” – WebMD


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Barranco-Ruiz, Y., Etxabe, B. E., Ramírez-Vélez, R., & Villa-González, E. (2019). Interventions Based on Mind-Body Therapies for the Improvement of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Youth: A Systematic Review. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 55(7), 325. doi:10.3390/medicina55070325



Background and objectives: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. Mind–body therapies (MBTs) seem to be effective for improving health in different populations; however, whether a positive effect occurs in children and adolescents with ADHD is still controversial. The main aim of this systematic review was to analyse the interventions based on MBT aimed to improve the main ADHD symptoms in children and adolescents. Materials and Methods: A systematic review was conducted following the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines to identify MBT studies on children and adolescents (4–18 years) with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD. Study quality was evaluated by the NIH quality tool (U.S. National Institute of Health). Results: There were positive results in eleven out of twelve included studies regarding the effect of the MBT interventions on ADHD symptoms. With respect to ADHD symptoms, we observed differences across studies. In relation to the studies’ quality, eleven studies were rated “poor” and one was rated as “fair”. Conclusions: MBTs, such as yoga or mindfulness, could be positive strategies to mitigate ADHD symptoms in children and adolescents. However, further research with high-quality designs, with randomization, greater sample sizes, and more intensive supervised practice programs are needed.


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