Many people with Attention Deficit Disorder also have extreme anxiety. Anxiety is that unpleasant feeling that washes over you and signals that something is wrong in your life. It's a feeling of dread, whether you can identify the cause of the feeling or not. Often, there is no specific cause, just the feeling that life is going to come crashing down on you. For people with ADD, the ultimate cause might be that there are many parts of their lives that need care, and that attention to details has not been forthcoming. Projects have been put off. Paperwork is half finished. Deadlines have passed or are converging. What can you do to alleviate anxiety? Research has started to show that meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation, might be the key.
What is mindfulness meditation? A person practicing mindfulness is aware of what is going on in the present moment. The focus is on what is happening with your body and surroundings. The mind is being trained to be more attentive to the events in your life and your environment. Several recent studies find that mindfulness meditation can help in reducing anxiety.
A recent study done at Wake Forest University used brain imaging to show that mindfulness meditation activates the parts of the brain that are associated with executive level function. Executive function is associated with reasoning through problems; it is also a key element for monitoring and evaluating performance in completing tasks. Executive function is linked to emotional reactivity. Study subjects took four 20-minute classes to teach them mindfulness meditation. After they practiced this technique, researchers found that their anxiety decreased. The reduction in anxiety was significant; for some it was as much as 39 percent.
Another study that was reported in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology linked researchers from Spain, Wisconsin, and France. They studied the expression of genes before and after mindfulness meditation. After mindfulness meditation, study subjects showed rapid changes in gene expression in the genes that regulate inflammatory responses in the body. They also found changes in the ability of the body to recover from cortisol, a steroid hormone that is associated with stress reactions, after the practice of mindfulness meditation. Both of these genetic responses could help ameliorate the effects of anxiety.
An analysis of 47 previous studies on mindfulness meditation came from Johns Hopkins. The researchers found that some conditions, including anxiety, can be improved by mindfulness meditation. With as little as 30 minutes of daily meditation, symptoms of anxiety can be reduced. Mindfulness meditation compares favorably to the relief offered by antidepressants.
When a person with Attention Deficit Disorder has their anxiety reduced, it can help them move through problems and the work of life. Anxiety takes a lot of focus away from the necessary day-to-day activities. It robs a person of their ability to cope with the daily work and crises that we need to deal with. There might not be a lot of extra time in your day, but you can put time to good use by practicing mindfulness meditation. Reduce anxiety, get more done, and live your life fully, as you cope with the negative symptoms of ADD.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (2013, June 4). Anxious? Activate your anterior cingulate cortex with a little meditation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2013/06/130604114001.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013, December 8). Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2013/12/131208090343.htm
Johns Hopkins Medicine (2014, January 6). Meditation for anxiety, depression?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.comŽ/releases/2014/01/140106190050.htm
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