Meditation can help improve symptoms in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an international psychiatry conference heard this week.
The Australian study in 48 children diagnosed with ADHD found Sahaja yoga meditation led to an average 35% reduction in symptom severity over six weeks, and enabled many to reduce their medication.
Study co-author, Sydney general practitioner Dr Ramesh Manocha, told the World Psychiatric Association conference in Melbourne this week that improvements occurred in behaviour, self-esteem and relationship quality.
Children said they slept better and were less anxious at home. They also said they could better concentrate and had less conflict at school.
Parents were happier, less stressed and more able to manage their child’s behaviour.
The trial, at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, taught the technique to children under 12 taking ADHD medication and their parents.
The technique uses visualisation, music and nature plus one-on-one instruction. For six weeks they attended two sessions a week at the hospital and meditated twice a day at home while soaking their feet in cool salt water.
“We had remarkable results. Overall there was about a 35% improvement in symptoms, which was significant,” Manocha says.
“Six were able to go off medication and their behaviour normalised, 12 halved their medication and another group reduced it by about one-quarter.
“Feedback from children was the best, things like ‘I always knew what I was doing was not good and upset people but now I can control it’.”