By Julianne Davidow, CMC, ACC, Guest Contributor
Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM)
As trained ADHD Coaches we are, of course, familiar with medication as part of a multimodal treatment plan for people with ADHD. We also know that medications don’t work for everyone and have limitations and drawbacks. To be of best service to our clients, we should therefore become aware of the relatively new field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).
In their book, Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Pat Gerbarg draw on 30 years of clinical experience to write about a range of scientifically researched complementary and alternative treatments. There are brain boosters (such as herbs, melatonin and nootropics–synthetic compounds that enhance brain function and are very low in side effects); diet, vitamins and nutrients; neurofeedback therapy and brain stimulation; and mind-body practices.
Not all of these alternative treatments are fully vetted, but one CAM that has been well researched–and proven to be effective–is mindfulness meditation.
There is a growing body of evidence confirming that mind training practices, such as mindfulness meditation, can change the brain. Mindfulness meditation induces positive structural changes in brain connectivity, and can help with all the symptoms of ADHD including impulsivity, hyperactivity, focus, and attention span. Additionally, mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress which often co-occur with ADHD. Mindfulness techniques can be used in conjunction with medication, and, over time, can even enable a person to lower his or her dosage.
If you are not yet familiar with the concept, mindfulness is paying attention, in the present moment, on purpose, without judgment. Typically, a person sets aside from 15 to 45 minutes on a regular basis to intentionally practice mindfulness. But mindfulness techniques can also be used informally throughout the day. Doing this kind of practice on a daily basis helps in the short term, and even more in the long term. Benefits just keep increasing. These benefits include improved cognition, memory, and the ability to concentrate.
There are many ways to meditate, and many ways to learn meditation. You can take a course, read a book, or start by listening and following along with a guided meditation on my website site or another site. Two books I recommend are The Healing Power of the Breath by Brown and Gerbarg, and The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD by Zylowska.
By learning about different treatment options and sharing that information with our clients, we can help our clients make healthy, lasting changes in their lives. Mindfulness meditation is an important technique to consider incorporating into one’s life, not only for people with ADHD, but for everyone.
Julianne Davidow, CMC, ACC, incorporates mindfulness skills and positive psychology strategies in her work and daily life. Author of Outer Beauty Inner Joy: Contemplating the Soul of the Renaissance, Julianne has traveled extensively, teaching English for over twenty years. She believes that mindfulness is an important key for developing self-awareness and allowing us to tap our deepest sources of creativity. She lives in the greater New York City area. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.