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Finding Focus: Do Anxiety Rings Help Manage ADHD?

Fidgeting, restlessness, trouble concentrating—these are all common symptoms many adults and children face when living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While medications exist to treat ADHD, some patients and families seek out additional methods to mitigate distractibility and anxious behaviors. This has led to a surging interest in therapeutic tools like weighted blankets, fidget cubes, and anxiety rings. But do these sensory aids actually help calm ADHD symptoms? Specifically, what does the research say so far about the efficacy of anxiety rings for ADHD management?

What are Anxiety Rings?

Anxiety rings, also referred to as fidget rings or spinner rings, are rings worn on the fingers that have moving parts intended for spinning, turning, or “fidgeting.” The most common style is a band with a spinning metal or ceramic ball that rotates freely around the band. This allows the wearer to subtly spin and roll the ball continuously throughout the day. There are also styles with rotating metal bands, gears, clicks, or other small parts designed for manipulation.

The purpose of these rings is to give the hands something small and discreet to occupy themselves with. The gentle, repetitive movement is believed to have a calming effect for many people. It allows a harmless physical outlet for nervous habits, anxiety, or excessive energy. In this way, anxiety rings share the goal of other fidget items like fidget spinners and cubes—to give restless hands an unobtrusive object to keep them occupied.

Do They Help with ADHD Symptoms?

There has been limited research conducted specifically on anxiety rings’ effectiveness for ADHD. However, some studies on related therapeutic items provide insights that may apply to anxiety rings as well.

One relevant study published in 2018 gave children with ADHD both fidget spinners and cognitive behavioral therapy for six weeks. The researchers ultimately concluded the fidget spinner was ineffective in improving ADHD symptoms and had little effect on related behavioral or attention issues. Critics of the study point out that participants only received a spinner without any guidance on appropriate use. As occupational therapy experts note, giving fidget tools without instruction reduces their benefit.

Potential benefits for anxiety rings may also be gleaned from research on cognitive behavioral therapy combined with “habit reversal training” for ADHD. Habit reversal training focuses on becoming aware of one’s behaviors and using alternate actions to replace nervous habits related to ADHD. This often includes fidget items. In multiple studies, pairing CBT with habit reversal training improved functionality and reduced ADHD hyperactive-impulsive symptoms both post-treatment and at follow-ups. Based on this, using anxiety rings mindfully could yield measurable symptomatic relief for some individuals.

Experts argue each sensory aid must be matched to the comfort and needs of the user. Thus, people with ADHD stimming behaviors may intuitively self-select what objects best distract and self-soothe for them personally in anxiety-inducing situations. Rings allow small, discreet sensory input in almost any environment. Used strategically at the right moments, rings may help some persons with ADHD regulate attention and distraction.

Potential Downsides

While moderately using anxiety rings is unlikely to cause harm, there are some potential downsides for certain users:

  • Over-reliance on rings for stimulation could inhibit developing long-term coping skills
  • Switching between many fidget objects could indicate an unsuitable fit for needs
  • For those prone to perfectionism, rings could become a crutch viewed as “essential at all times”
  • Rings with sharp gears or choking hazards raise safety concerns for children

As with any therapeutic tool, anxiety rings will inevitably work better for some people than others. Open communication with medical providers allows thoughtful troubleshooting if rings become problematic versus constructive for individual cases. Most clinicians recommend rings as just one possible aid integrated with other evidence-based strategies, such as counseling and mindfulness.

In Conclusion

Do anxiety rings help manage ADHD? Current research specifically testing their efficacy remains limited. However, based on studies of related therapeutic items, they likely provide at least modest symptomatic relief of attention deficit and hyperactivity behaviors if used consciously when symptoms flare up. Their small, discreet nature makes themeasy to incorporate and experiment with. While not a standalone treatment, anxiety rings may be a useful supplementary aid when utilized actively and intentionally for sensory regulation by some individuals with ADHD. As with any medical intervention, individuals should discuss trying anxiety rings with their healthcare providers first to weigh appropriateness for their situation.