ADHD brain waves are different

Too much time in gamma waves!

My ADHD mind is quiet! I am unusual in that I am seldom bothered by busy thoughts about the future, anxious concerns or anything else really! I tend to get very bored left to my own devices and am always reading, watching and listening to fill my quiet head. For many with ADHD the exact opposite is the case, busy heads, interrupted with thoughts of future tasks, concerns, daydreams and thoughts.

What we adults with ADHD have in common, is we spend unusual amounts of time in unusual mental states. These states can be measured by EEG or electroencephalograph and are the electrical frequencies at which the brain functions.

Four main brain frequencies

The brain produces four main brain frequencies or waves.
  • The highest frequency is the beta wave – mind and body active and busy, short term memory in use.
  • The second highest is the alpha wave, when mind and body are resting, relaxed and reflecting, long term memory is activated and learning is easy.
  • The third type is the theta wave, the second slowest frequency, a state of deep relaxation bringing high creativity and insight with the subconscious mind accessible.
  • The slowest, delta dominates in deep, dreamless sleep and in meditation

Stuck in theta

It seems that people with ADHD spend more time in the theta state than normal. Theta Waves are associated with states of enhanced creativity and learning, deeper relaxation, strong intuition, problem solving and day-dreaming. They dominate our brain wave activity when we are unable to concentrate, it seems that people with ADHD are not able to shift out of theta waves when they need to focus and may use hyperactive behaviour to help reach a beta wave state.

Theta Waves seem to lead to deeper emotional connections, whereas too long in beta state leads to becoming detached and forgetting your natural emotions. Interestingly it seems that musicians, painters, designers, or anyone creative has more theta waves than average. There are  ways we can change our mental states with meditation, neuro-feedback, medications, listening to binaural beats & brain “entrainment” CDs or even just taking a walk in the park.
ADHD Coach, Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis is an ADHD Coach, writer and founder of SimplyWellbeing. He has over 15,000 hours and 18 years of experience in coaching over 500 ADHD executives, ADHD business professionals and ADHD creatives. Andrew ran a major ADHD support group and an ADHD diagnostic clinic for a while. He is an ADHD specialist backed with business expertise from a twenty years career in software, from roles in programming, through marketing, sales and to running a few software start-ups. His ADHD insight is personal, with decades understanding his own ADHD experience and in bringing up his ADHD daughter. He has published his writing primarily via this website, with interactive ADHD courses in development.


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