A Guide to ADHD and How Music Therapy Can Help
You’ve probably heard of ADHD because it is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. What you might not have heard of, though, is that music therapy has been proven effective in helping those diagnosed.
In this post, we will be taking a look at:
And how music therapy is a valid form of treatment.
ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is characterized by long-term inattention and impulsivity -- otherwise known as a lack of focus and excessive fidgeting. ADHD can be caused by anything from low birth weight to brain injury, although research suggests genetic factors have a lot to do with it.
According to the CDC, ADHD can be categorized into three different types:
If any of the following symptoms have occurred six times (or five times for adults) over the last six months, you may have ADHD.
Predominantly Inattentive Presentation:
There is no medical test to determine if someone has ADHD, but by gathering information and comparing it to these symptoms, a healthcare professional may be able to diagnose.
Online tests like this one can help you decide if you need to take further steps.
ADHD is most frequently seen in children, and it can impact their lives greatly.
Since ADHD is an attention disorder, it obviously gets in the way of having a normal education. Many kids may find themselves zoning out in class and missing a math lesson or hearing the bell ring before they’ve finished their test. School is the exact opposite of what a person with ADHD wants to do -- it requires you to sit still, listen, and be quiet.
Luckily treatments, such as music therapy, can help a diagnosed child thrive at school.
Not all side effects of ADHD will interrupt your child’s day-to-day life. In fact, some may help them. Children with ADHD are said to be more:
Many adults do not even realize that they have ADHD -- usually, symptoms decrease as we age. Despite this, about four percent of those with ADHD are adults.
ADHD in adults has been linked to:
Before you rush to conclusions, consult your healthcare provider -- and check out these forms of music therapy treatment.
Typically, patients with ADHD are provided with supplements such as Adderall, in order to treat their symptoms. Several studies have concluded that music therapy is also a successful aid to patients, and it can be used to either strengthen the effects of a medication or to feel in control of symptoms without one.
Music therapy provides structure for those with ADHD. Music involves rhythm and beats, which are soothing to a brain trying to regulate itself. Music also has a distinct beginning, middle, and end, making it predictable. To someone that is disorganized or scatter-brained, this can be very comforting and even train the brain simultaneously.
Music also triggers the release of dopamine (the happy chemical) in the brain, something that is low in those with ADHD. Dopamine is also responsible for some of our attention, memory, and motivation skills. Therefore, increasing dopamine leads to an increase in mental performance.
Commonly, children with ADHD have a hard time fitting in at school and/or processing their emotions -- this may be the same way for adults as well. Group music therapy can be extremely beneficial in these cases. You will meet people who share your struggles while learning to play instruments, collaborating, and creating new music.
There are several methods of music therapy, but here are some frequently used techniques when treating those with ADHD:
In Katrina McFerran’s academic journal, Quenching a Desire for Power: The Role of Music Therapy for Adolescents with ADHD, she studied the effects of music therapy on a young man. She found that both individual and small-group therapy provided opportunities for him to express himself and gain control over his life. This proved that no matter which method your therapist chooses, it is sure to bring positive change.
You do not need any prior musical experience or talents to benefit from music therapy. Doctors may prescribe pills, supplements, or chemicals, but music therapy is an easy, consequence-free option that can work alongside these treatments or fly solo.
If you or your child show symptoms of ADHD, consult your healthcare provider in order to find the best music therapy options for you!
Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 17, 2021