Nature Deficit Disorder


Do you think that a nice walk on a nature trail or a game of baseball in a grassy field could help ease ADHD symptoms? Recent research led by Frances Kuo, Ph.D. from the University of Illinois suggests that such simple natural methods help increase focus in ADD patients.

The idea to test the effects of natural green environments on ADHD symptoms came about from an observation that adults without ADD tended to focus on tasks far better while surrounded by natural environments than indoor or artificial surroundings.

The scientific explanation behind this lies in the observation that neurotransmitters in the brain’s prefrontal cortex deplete as you focus on a singular task without a break. After a point, your attention gets fatigued, which causes ADHD like symptoms. Rest and relaxation helps undue that fatigue, but research indicates that the benefits of rest and relaxation is accelerated by doing activities in natural environments.

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, about 500 parents of children from 5-18 years of age with ADD remarked that afterschool and weekend activities done in natural environments with lots of visible trees and grass around led to the most profound improvement in focus.

But what do these findings suggest beyond ways to adjust a lifestyle to accommodate and assist with ADHD symptoms?

Nature Deficit Disorder

Also consider cabin fever for a moment. Someone who is cooped up indoors grows to feel trapped and becomes increasingly agitated and restless. Some say that similar results occur when children are kept cooped up inside of a home or business for extended periods of time without the ability to run and explore. The treatment for cabin fever is to spend time outdoors with nature because it leads to the feeling of freedom and release making indoor time more manageable.

Sounds familiar?

This isn’t to say that these conditions are the same. Instead, it is to show how a similar circumstance can be treated with outside time. Should you seek consultation on treating ADHD, I would urge a patient to ask about the benefits of outside time as a treatment assistance option.

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