How Deep Breathing Opens Up the ADHD Brain

Studies suggest that rhythmic, deep breathing can balance the autonomic nervous system, which helps individuals with ADHD become more attentive and relaxed. Learn more about this free, highly portable alternative treatment.

How Deep Breathing Works

ADDitude Magazine
Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) has two components: a stress response and a recharge response. Attention deficit adults and ADHD children have nervous systems that are out of whack: Most of the time the stress and recharge responses are under-active. But when an ADDer’s stress response kicks in, it goes into high gear, compared to those who don’t have the condition. For your brain to work better -- and for you to be less impulsive and hyperactive -- both components of the ANS need to work optimally and in the right balance. Coherent breathing can help accomplish these goals.

“Amazing things happen in the body and brain when you slow down your breathing to five or six full breaths a minute,” says Brown, who teaches a weekend course in coherent breathing ( The heart, lungs, and blood vessels work more efficiently, delivering more oxygen to the body’s tissues and the brain. Parts of the brain that deal with complex problems begin to function better. Typically, you see a big change in brain-wave patterns -- meaning more healthy alpha waves and fewer sleepy delta waves.

“People with ADD feel a lot calmer, are better able to make good judgments, and are less easily frustrated,” says Brown.

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TAGS: ADHD and Anxiety, Alternative Treatments for ADHD, ADHD Therapy, ADHD Relaxation Tips, Yoga for ADHD

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