How Technology can help you cope with ADHD

April 10 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 4/10/2021 1:55:37 PM IST

 Like much of what ails us, ADHD is often misunderstood. The symptoms exist on a spectrum, and in some people—both children and adults—ADHD (attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder) means you can’t sit still or struggle in school or at work. For others, it looks like losing keys and wallets, making impulsive decisions, and chronic distraction. 

ADHD can be some of those things, but a person can also have ADHD and not display the typical symptoms. If managed well, and with help from a doctor, ADHD can present as the opposite of what most people think it is. Some people mistakenly believe that ADHD is a side effect of modern life and the rapid increase in handheld devices, but technology has gotten a bad (and factually incorrect) reputation as a cause of ADHD.  If you think you may have ADHD, contact your doctor, or seek one out that specializes in ADHD-related care, don’t try to self-diagnose using the internet. Dale Archer, medical doctor, board-certified psychiatrist, and author of two books on ADHD, says, “ADHD is a combination of genetics and brain chemistry, and you’re either born with it or not.”

Do More People have ADHD now than ever before?

ADHD was first defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1968, but since then they’ve made “subtle but important changes” to the way they define ADHD, leading to both clarity about the disorder and an increase in diagnoses. In short, the reason more adults are discovering they have ADHD isn’t that they suddenly develop it but because of an increase in information and diagnostic tools over the past 30 years. The way ADHD is diagnosed has evolved, but treating it with stimulants—and mental stimulation—dates back to 1936. The reason that stimulants and mental stimulation work to treat ADHD symptoms is by increasing dopamine, which people with ADHD need more of to do things like get into gear and “decide a goal is worth the effort.” 

Technology Works

Technology helps ADHDers by providing brain stimulation, but technology can also help the brain slow down through meditation practices and apps such as Calm, Headspace, and Open, which includes movement with mindfulness. Do we need technology to meditate? Absolutely not. But can it help achieve results? Absolutely. Kristen Willeumier, a neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain, understands the science behind ramping up adrenaline and dopamine rushes, and referenced the beginning of a ballgame when the music is pumping, the lights are bright, and the intention—for both the crowd and the players—is to get pumped. On a smaller scale, individuals do this by creating playlists so that when they hear a certain song, it signals to their mind and body that it’s go-time. But what about when we need to slow down? “The first thing to do with ADHD is to take what’s in your mind and get it out,” Willeumier says, “So the apps for to-do lists, productivity, anti-distraction, and meditation are all very helpful, but I like to work with the brain-wave states.” Neuroimaging shows that meditation increases focus and attention not only for ADHDers but for everyone. However, meditation is often easier said than done, and besides—how do we know if we’re really meditating or just making mental grocery lists or snoozing? With her patients, Willeumier uses devices like the Muse mediation sensor, which looks like a simple headband but is sort of an at-home version of an EEG. “A lot of people don’t know how to meditate and it’s hard to know when you’ve reached the meditative state,” Willeumier says.  For those who want a more tech-heavy option, but don’t want to go for the full EEG, there’s another option called the David Delight Pro. “The David Delight uses light and sound to help modulate brainwave activity,” Willeumier explains. “It can help with focus, attention, and sleep—it’s more of an all-in-one technology.”


From basic to-do lists and productivity apps to the Muse headband and David Delight, there’s a wide range of technology to help ADHDers. For anyone struggling to manage their ADHD, it’s helpful to know what’s worked for others, though the most important thing is to take time to explore the strategies that work best for each individual.

When chatting with Schwartz about his use of gaming and gamification techniques, I told him, “Sometimes I just want to do something different with my brain, and I wouldn’t know what to do with a joystick in my hand, but I often play word puzzles apps on my phone.”

Schwartz responded with a laugh, “That is a total video game—you’re doing the exact same thing!”



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