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UCSC-Affiliated Psychiatrist Speaks about Mindfulness and ADHD

Lidia Zylowska, M.D., author of The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD, offers insight and advice on how mindfulness can be an important tool to help those with ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Zylowska is a UCSC-affiliated psychiatrist who believes in using mindfulness-based solutions to treat mental health and, specifically, ADHD.

Zylowska explains that mindfulness is a state of mind that can be strengthened by specific meditation practice. The main aspects of mindfulness that Zylowska spoke about were becoming more self-aware, less driven by unhelpful and automatic reactions, and being more compassionate. Mindfulness can specifically help with increasing focus and decreasing distractions, observing thoughts and feelings instead of acting on them, reducing stress and balancing acceptance. When using mindfulness to assist with ADHD, Zylowska emphasizes the connection between the self-regulation challenges of ADHD and the self-regulation component of mindfulness.

In Zylowska’s research at the UCLA Mindfulness Research Center, her team adapted mindfulness training for those with ADHD. The study consisted of 24 adults and 8 teens with ADHD. After the 3-months of mindfulness training, the study showed improvement in self-reported symptoms of ADHD, anxiety and depression. The study also included the participants completing cognitive tests before and after training to see if they had better performance and cognitive inhibition. The results showed that the participants had performed better on selected tests of attention and cognitive inhibition. The results specifically showed improvement in the ability to pay attention under distracting conditions. However, there was no control group for the study to prove these results further. Australian researchers also tested Zylowska’s program with 8 to 12 year old children with ADHD and had similar results.

For adults with ADHD, Zylowska explains that using the acronym S.T.O.P. is a helpful way to remember how to use mindfulness daily. S.T.O.P. stands for stop for a moment, take a breath, observe mindfully for a moment and proceed with relaxation and awareness. For more on this research, see

Categories: Mindfulness