ADHD & Music

Harmonizing ADHD Management with Music

Music can have a profound effect on individuals with ADHD, offering therapeutic and cognitive benefits. It can act as a tool for mood regulation, provide a calming influence, and aid in concentration, especially for tasks that require sustained attention. The rhythmic and structured nature of music can help in organizing thoughts and reducing hyperactivity. However, it's important to tailor the choice of music to personal preferences and the task at hand, as some types of music might be distracting. Understanding how music interacts with the ADHD brain is key to utilizing it effectively for cognitive enhancement and emotional well-being.

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Sounds, Melodies, Music, and an ADHD Brain

"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart."

~Pablo Casals

How do we connect ourselves to everything that surrounds us? Without sounds, life can be a bit boring 😪. Without some ambient music playing in the background, the complete silence can be deafening. Without melody 🎶, everything may seem to be in utter chaos. These three may be pleasing to everyone's ear, but would you believe that there's a complicated relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and music?

ADHD can impact relationship to music

For some people struggling with ADHD, music can be essential to running our routines 👌. Sometimes, we prefer having them around as background noise to promote relaxation or even help when we have trouble focusing. But there are moments when we don't want to listen to anything, a certain frequency irritates us quickly, or when even the slightest sound can ruin our mood for the entire day 😒.

Have you ever measured time just by playing music? Sometimes, when I forget how long I've been waiting for someone, I often tell them, "Oh, I've been waiting for you for about eight songs, so... you're late." Aside from the distraction-slash-refuge music gives me when I'm bored, it also saves me during awkward times. But, not every time has music been my friend. There are moments I wished I was not sensitive to sounds, as they can easily give an opposite effect from what I stated 🙁.

ADHD Symptoms That May Be Affected By Music

Many people with ADHD can experience a lot of symptom-related struggles when it comes to music. Sometimes, there are positive effects to us, but there are definitely moments when music affects our ADHD brains adversely.

Music Can Easily Distract Us

Sometimes, being easily distracted is a trademark of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 😅. Little things and details can make us lose focus and leave out anything we're doing just because we are distracted now. What more if music plays in the background with easy-to-follow rhythms or medium-tempo music with catchy lyrics?

Music, racing thoughts, and auditory stimulation can distract us during activities. You'll sometimes find yourself singing the same lyrics over and over again 🎤🎤🎤. Playing the melodies inside the brain can distract us for the rest of the day.

The auditory beat stimulation we experience when we are supposed to be listening to something far more critical overpowers our attention in the present moment, making us more likely to forget the task or discussion 😥.

Music can be distracting for people with ADHD

Music Can Help Improve Focus

One of the possible effects of music on our ADHD brain is it can distract us easily. But there are also statements saying music is an excellent way to improve and promote concentration. How can both be possible? 🤔

Music can help us focus better

Well, it is true that music can positively affect our ADHD brains. Listening to music, especially those with structured rhythm, can make us feel upbeat and stay easily tuned with what we are doing. There's also a report about how background music or white noise 🎼helps us improve concentration and remember things easily.

According to the same report, certain genres can give us increased focus, and specific music helps us promote concentration. Listening to classical music can have potential benefits, especially when we want to improve mood and productivity. Jazz music can also boost creativity and reduce stress, which can make it easier for you to focus. 

However, certain conditions should be considered to increase cognitive performance, like how fast the beat is and how loud the volume is 🔊. The background music should be played as an ambient sound to possibly benefit people.

Music Can Produce High Dopamine Levels

As music can be a way to promote concentration, it can also boost our energy and make us highly energized or happy. How? According to some tests held by researchers, music can increase dopamine levels in our brains. The results suggest that music can give us enough dopamine, which can translate into a mood boost.

We can get dopamine from listening to the same song again and again

Also, the auditory beat stimulation we get from listening to other genres of music can help us manage ADHD & improve cognitive performance. However, depending on personal preference, some music may not be as appealing to us as others. Finding the right kind of music that makes you feel more productive, focused, and relaxed while working on activities or tasks is essential 👌.

Music Can Help Us Regulate Mood and Emotion

Research suggests that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition that can limit how we handle our emotions or feelings. ADHD can also be one of the many reasons we can be grumpy or irritable 😠or have trouble calming down and regulating our mood due to certain ADHD symptoms. As a lot of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder struggle with emotion regulation and impulsivity, music can benefit those who need help to cope 🎹.

Music can be a powerful tool to relax the mind and body. It is believed that certain kinds of classical or instrumental music can reduce stress and anxiety levels in some people with ADHD due to its soothing effect on the mind 🧘. 

Other forms of music, like electronic music or medium-tempo music, can also help manage ADHD symptoms, mainly to promote attentiveness and focus. Listening to upbeat music can give us positive energy and motivate us when working on activities or tasks 😉. These types of music can also make us consume excess energy, eventually wearing us out and improving our mood afterward.

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Listening to Music Can Be Exhausting Too

Have you ever struggled to sleep because there's a particular song stuck in your brain the entire day, and you can't shrug it off because you have a hyperactive brain? 🛌 It happens to me a lot, especially after a long day of being busy and trying to hyperfocus with something as background noise. As I got immersed in the activity, I didn't notice that I was slowly humming the sound I heard and then getting on my brain until I went to sleep.

That's something that we cannot easily control at times. When an ADHD brain cannot stop to think and do its own thing, even when we shut our ears, or even if we are in a room with complete silence, when this familiar music starts to creep in inside our head, I'll bet it will keep you awake for the next couple of hours 💤.

Certain ADHD symptoms, like racing thoughts, can give us sleepless nights. Although music can help us regulate our mood, it can be exhausting too 🙁. When exposed to unusual or too much music, our brain can go into overdrive and interrupt our sleeping patterns. Thus, finding the right music that helps you relax and focus your thoughts is best.

it can be exhausting to have a song stuck in your hyperactive brain

Loud, Banging Music Can Send us into Overdrive

What do you usually do when you are not fond of the music playing in the background, especially if it's too loud or noisy? Lucky for you if you can control the volume or you can shut them off 🎚️. But what if we are in a public setting? When you are in transit, your driver turns the radio on and flips through different radio stations. Then he found heavy metal 🥁 music that he played for the next few blocks.

That can get annoying, right? For some people with ADHD, loud or banging music can send us into overdrive mode. It's like we are in a battle against noise and distraction as our brain is too sensitive to handle it. As a result, concentrating becomes more challenging, or we want to listen to something else to cope with the situation. Sound sensitivity can be common for some people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is when external stimuli, such as loud sounds, creaking, or humming noises, can easily distract us and become overwhelming to handle.

People with ADHD can have sound sensitivity including to music

Do you enjoy going to the grocery shops? 🛒 There are moments when I sometimes feel like running an errand at a big supermarket can be exhausting. Aside from their blinding lights, loud sounds and plenty of announcements 📣 over the speaker make me lose focus on what I need to buy. It's challenging for some people with ADHD to do this task, especially if sensory overload kicks in

There's Healing Through Music Therapy for People with ADHD

How do we make listening to music soothing and relaxing? This is where music therapy comes in. Music therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses music to create, express and relax our minds 🎵. When used correctly, it can help strengthen the same areas of the brain affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Music therapists use different activities, such as playing an instrument, listening to binaural beats or ambient sounds, and singing 🧑‍🎤. Music therapy can help reduce stress and other symptoms related to ADHD, such as inattentiveness and impulsivity. Some people with ADHD may perform better after participating in a music therapy session than those who did not.

In addition to traditional treatments that can be prescribed to a lot of people with ADHD, like taking medications or attending behavioral therapy, listening to music is also a great form of self-care that can help them manage their symptoms. It's best to talk to coordinate with your therapist 🧑‍⚕️ regarding consulting a music therapist to improve focus and manage ADHD symptoms.

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ADHD & Music FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Does music affect ADHD?

A lot of things can affect ADHD, including music. Some music may prove to be calming, allowing you to focus more and become more productive. Other genres may be too overwhelming and can serve as unwelcome distractions. Of course, it still depends on the situation.

What kind of music seems helpful for some people with ADHD?

Some reports say classical, jazz, and upbeat music can be helpful. But, of course, it still depends on several things, like where you’re at, what you’re doing, the music volume, etc.

Should you consider music therapy?

If you believe that music helps you a lot, particularly with your ADHD symptoms, it’s worth it to mention it to your doctor. The same thing is true if you have tried other therapies and want to add on them with music.

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