Written by Alastair Sherlock, Osteopath

26 January 2023

ADHD is characterised as a behaviour disorder that displays inattention, hyper impulsivity, and in some cases hyperactivity. It can result from early trauma or neurodevelopmental disorder. With this disorder it can lead to disproportionate threat response and shares many symptoms with anxiety, PTSD, OCD, depression and exhaustion.

It can often lead to dysautonomia which is an incorrectly stimulated autonomic nervous system. The system has two main well-known divisions, the fight and flight stress response (sympathetic) and the rest and digest (parasympathetic). The sympathetic is responsible for elevating the heart rate, breathing rate and release of adrenaline in reaction to a threat to enable the body to mobilise a response. The parasympathetic does the opposite and redirect bodily resources to digestion, recuperation and general restoration. It is not always as simple as being either in one state or the other, since there are many different variations. But for the purpose of this article we can see it as behaving in one state or the other. What triggers the response is how we perceive threat and a disproportionate and inappropriate response can be triggered by simple things eg a deadline or mildly confrontational experience. However, it is useful because it motivates us, but if its activation is overstimulated, various areas of the brain are involved with threat perception. This triggers activation of areas of the brain responsible for decision making, pleasure seeking and motivation. It is the interrelation between the basic brain areas and the higher cortical areas that regulate the amount of response (imagine the project manager overseeing the process).

Luckily there is a lot of ongoing research that is bringing to light a lot of very positive interventions beyond medication that have shown to be very effective. One that I found particularly interesting was training of the cerebellum (an area that holds 75% of the brain’s neurons). Simple balance exercises to retrain in this area has been shown to have a very beneficial effect on the prefrontal cortex, as well as anxiety, concentration and other ADHD symptoms. The link between posture and behaviour is more and more commonly recognised in the scientific community. Osteopathy can help, not only by restoring posture to prevent strain but by having a very large impact on the nervous system, particularly the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic) to correct this dysautonomia. By using gentle, non-invasive manipulation thereby correcting abhorrent postural impact on these systems we rebalance the nervous tone and reduce symptoms. I’ve seen dramatic reductions in severe anxiety following a course of treatment.

There is also ADHD coaching that helps patients to think differently about the condition. Cognitive behaviour therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, and EMDR are three other therapies that can sincerely help with anxiety especially if it is from trauma which can lead to ADHD. These use the brain’s ability to rewire itself to achieve more positive outcomes and are very effective. Finally diet plays a crucial role in neuro regenerative bodily functions, those that repair connections between brain areas.

So there seems to be a lot of research that is making grounds with helping in this condition. Please find below further resources on the subject that is concise and helpful:




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