A study conducted in Australia, at the Natural Therapies Research Unit, at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, and in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK, showed significant improvement of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a disorder that develops in childhood and is characterised by problems of attention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.
The treatment of choice in ADHD is the administration of stimulant Medication. However, there are side effects, there is concern about the unknown long-term effects of stimulants on brain development and there is evidence for limited effectiveness that wanes after a few years. For these reasons parents prefer non-pharmacological treatment and there is a search for effective alternative non-pharmacological treatment options.
26 children with ADHD, aged between 4 and 12, were treated for 6 weeks with Sahaja Yoga Meditation adjunctive to their usual treatment (i.e. some of them were receiving stimulant Medication) and then compared to a waiting list control group who received no treatment.
Children with ADHD who learned how to meditate compared to the waiting list control group showed a significant reduction of the main symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention.
Other, secondary benefits were an improved child-parent relationship and enhanced self-esteem in children.
This reduction of symptoms was observed equally in medicated and non-medicated patients.
Furthermore, of the children who were treated with stimulant Medication, over 50% either discontinued or reduced their stimulant medication but still improved in their symptoms.
The children improved in their behaviour at home and at school.
This pioneering study suggests that Meditation is clearly a promising non-pharmacological treatment option for children with ADHD that needs to be further explored.
Harrison, L., Rubia, K., Manocha, R. (2003) Sahaja Yoga Meditation as a Family Treatment Program for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 9 (4), 479-497.