ADHD stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is a chronic condition that includes attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Just as everyone with ADHD experiences different symptoms, each person will experience differences in treatment.
Many people turn to medication to help lessen their ADHD symptoms. In order to treat ADHD with medication, you will have to be prescribed the medication by a psychiatrist or medical doctor. If you decide to take medication, you need to continue to be monitored by your medical provider. The most recommended form of ADHD treatment is stimulant medication because there have been many studies that show it is the most effective. Many times individuals will try different medications at different dosages, which can sometimes turn into a lot of experimenting. This can be incredibly frustrating, so make sure you do as much research as you can prior to your appointment, continue to follow up with your doctor, and update them of any side effects or changes.
Medication is used to treat ADHD on a neurological level and has been shown to have many positive effects on symptoms. Medication is even more effective when paired with talk therapy to help address specific problem behaviors, establishing predictability in routines, and increasing positive attention. Behavioral therapy is extremely helpful with parents of children with ADHD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has also been shown to be effective. CBT is a short-term, goal oriented form of talk therapy that aims to change negative patterns of thinking and change the way you feel about yourself, your abilities, and your future.
Nutritional changes and eating whole, healthy foods can make a huge difference for someone experiencing ADHD symptoms. There is a direct correlation between the food you eat and the way your brain functions. Nutritional choices impact cognition, attention, sleep, and mood. According to the Harvard Health Blog, studies show that people who eat clean or whole foods like vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and lean meats are more likely to experience better emotional health and 25-35% less likely to experience mood disorders. This means that you should try to avoid eating artificial colors and flavors, chemical preservative, and processed foods, all of which are shown to exacerbate ADHD symptoms.
Exercise is shown to increase attention and improve mood and should be added to the regimen of ADHD treatment. Routine exercise firms up the brain, which turns on the attention system, which is responsible for sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention. When we exercise, we release endorphins and raise our dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. All of these brain chemicals affect focus and attention. Exercise also boosts the brain’s neurotransmitters, which means that your brain will be more ready to learn.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Since ADHD consists of daily challenges with paying attention and self-regulating, attention training can help to hone self-control. Mindfulness involves paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. The more you practice mindfulness, the more you are able to develop a greater awareness of what is happening internally. A study done in the Journal of Applied School Psychology in 2005 showed that children who participated in mindfulness exercises had lower ADHD symptoms and greater attention than kids who did not participate in the exercises.
If you need parenting tips for parenting a child with ADHD or believe that you may have ADHD, click here to be paired with a therapist who can help.