Complementary and Alternative Treatments for ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental condition that starts in childhood and progresses to adulthood. Some people refer to ADHD as an attention deficit disorder (ADD). About 8.8% of children in the U.S have been diagnosed with ADHD. More than half of these children have behavioral problems, while 1 in 3 have anxiety. ADHD has many causes, including exposure to environmental toxins, brain injury, development problems, and genetics.
Symptoms of ADD include being inattentive, lack of sleep, inability to control behavior, and anxiety. Medicines for ADD do not cure the problem. Instead, they help to manage the symptoms and improve functioning. Most patients respond positively to medication and since ADHD is a behavioral problem, doctors and therapists often use behavior treatment in addition to medicine.
Even though ADHD affects concentration, most people live with the condition for many years. Some have gained the freedom to pursue their goals in life despite having the disorder. Such an outcome can be possible for anyone who receives proper treatment. What treatment options are available for ADHD? Here’s a detailed guideline.
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Alternative Options for ADHD Treatment
There are two broad options for ADHD treatment and these are medicine and behavior therapy. The specific options used depend on the person’s age and the symptoms treated. Generally, experts recommend behavior therapy for younger children (less than six years old). In this case, parents and teachers have the primary duty to administer this training. Since they spend a considerable amount of time with the kids, it’s easier for them to observe changes in behavior.
Involving parents in behavior training means that they have to receive training from therapists to train their kids. Often, this means spending a few minutes every day with the kid listening and speaking to them. For such young children, you should avoid the use of drugs unless the symptoms are severe. But for teenagers and adults, a combination of behavior therapy and medicine is often recommended.
You have a wide range of ADHD treatment options from which you can choose. But before using any complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), it’s essential to ensure that the alternatives are safe and effective. For instance, if you have a co-occurring disorder, treating one problem can worsen the other condition. So, use treatment alternatives that have more benefits than risks.
Moreover, not all people respond positively to the same treatment. It may take some time to know which treatment options work best for you. So you may have to try different treatment options if one fails to work. A holism ADHD treatment should cover the challenges faced at school for teens or the workplace for adults. It should also help improve self-esteem, manage emotions, and deal with any co-occurring disorder.
How Medications Are Used for Treatment of ADHD?
Most likely, after being diagnosed with ADHD, a doctor will prescribe medication. ADHD medication can either be stimulant or non-stimulant. The differences between the two are that stimulants target dopamine and produce fast results. Non-stimulants target norepinephrine in the brain and don’t work as fast. Studies show that people with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine than those without ADHD.
But lower levels of dopamine do not always indicate that a person has ADHD. A diagnostic process is required to determine whether one has ADHD or not. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that your body uses to send messages across body cells. It’s responsible for alertness, motivation, and attentiveness. If dopamine levels are too low, you may exhibit inattention. But once you take a stimulant, dopamine levels increases, and your ability to pay attention improves.
Most stimulants are controlled drugs and can have severe effects. So, always take the stimulant medication with a doctor’s prescription. Doctors start by prescribing a lower dose of the stimulant. Then this dose is increased with time depending on how effective it is. Non-stimulant medication, such as Wellbutrin can be used instead of stimulants. It’s believed that non-stimulants help in the production of norepinephrine in the brain. This chemical helps improve memory and focus in the patient.
The use of medication to treat ADD requires close monitoring by a doctor. Monitoring for about three months helps to assess the drug’s effectiveness and side effects. If the medicine is working, then your doctor will continue with the treatment. If it doesn’t work or produces severe side effects, your physician will replace it with another drug.
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Medication Vs. ADHD Natural Treatments
ADHD medication treatment has raised many concerns. Among them is the fear of not fully disclosing the long-term effects of the drugs. Stimulant drugs bring about addiction concerns. If sold over the counter (OTC), others can abuse it and get addicted. Not everyone shows medication side effects. Those who do can have mild to severe effects. In some cases, the side effects can worsen, leading to psychosis episodes and cardiovascular complications.
The addictive nature of stimulants can cause drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms. If children use stimulants, the drugs may inhibit their growth. There’s also a possibility of teenagers sharing their medicines with other teens who aren’t in ADHD treatment. Natural treatment, on the other hand, has no side effects. It involves the use of therapy, diet, and other non-medical treatment options. You can use this type of treatment for younger kids who can’t use medicines and adults with a co-occurring disorder.
Therapy involves meeting with your therapist for periods of about one hour, a few times in the month. If you miss a therapy session, you don’t get complications like when you miss a drug dose. Moreover, natural treatment can teach you coping skills, something you can’t get in medical treatment. You can also follow up on the therapy in your doctor’s absence. Insurance companies usually put limits on ADHD coverage. As a result, the insured may find it more expensive to use medication instead of natural treatment.
Types of Natural ADHD Treatments
Considering the problems associated with pharmacological treatment, some people may prefer natural or non-medical treatments. These are likely to have lasting benefits compared to medication. Luckily, you’ll find many natural treatment options available. ADD/ ADHD alternative treatments include change in diet, omega 3, behavioral therapies, homeopathy, yoga, meditation, and exercise. Here’s a detailed explanation of these treatment options.
Diet can help lessen ADHD symptoms or increase them. Dietary changes involve eliminating food that makes symptoms worse and adding those that make you feel better. If diet changes work, you may consider reducing reliance on medication. Taking food rich in vitamins can also help reduce the symptoms. If you’re not getting enough vitamins in your regular diet, then you can take supplements. Your body will need them to suppress your ADD/ ADHD symptoms.
Dietary changes can produce mixed results. But experts agree that if a particular food is good for the brain, it’s more likely to help with ADHD. Although sugar adds energy to the brain, too much sugar can create cognitive and memory problems. Hence, this may worsen the symptoms of ADHD. It’s better to avoid a sugary diet such as candy, energy drinks, and soda.
You should also avoid simple carbohydrates since they add more blood sugar within a short time. These carbohydrates include white flour, rice, and potatoes. Study shows that food dye can lead to hyperactivity in some children. Therefore, food colors, preservatives, and flavors should be used sparingly or avoided. Keep in mind that most processed food has food color flavors but yellow, red, and green are the colors that should make you more worried.
Patients with ADHD show a lower level of omega-3 but once they consume omega-3, ADHD symptoms reduce. Generally, a diet with omega-3 fatty acids is considered beneficial to brain health. And this is more important for people with ADHD. Omega-3 comes from seafood, especially salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring. You can also get it from nuts, seeds, and plant oils. Food rich in protein is essential in brain development. At the same time, protein does not add much sugar to the blood as carbohydrates do.
So, diets such as meat and beans may be essential for ADHD. Complex carbohydrates are also good since they don’t release too much energy at once. These food items include vegetables, fruits, whole grains meals, beans, peas, and brown rice. Using food to treat ADHD may not yield the same results for everyone. Besides, you have to consider other factors such as food allergies. But for the vast majority, eating a healthy diet helps to limit ADHD symptoms.
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Taking Supplements to Treat ADHD Naturally
Sometimes, people with ADHD suffer from low nutrients or minerals. These nutrients include zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B-6. Although most diets are nutritional, they may not have sufficient quantities of nutrients. A supplementary diet helps to boost minerals, nutrients, and vitamins in the body. The general way of increasing them is by eating nutritious food with more minerals. Here’s where you can find these minerals:
- Iron: kidney beans, nuts, soybean flour, beef, liver
- Magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, peanuts, cashews
- Zinc: legumes, fish, meat, whole grains, dairy products, eggs
- Vitamin D: liver, red meat, egg yolk, oily fish
- Vitamin B-6: bananas, fish, oats, poultry, peanuts, soya beans
Behavioral therapy helps to treat most mental conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It focuses on changing from negative behavior to positive one. Some behavior associated with ADHD can have adverse effects at school and in the workplace. So this training aims at rectifying those behaviors to help you have better concentration, be more organized, and be able to control your impulses.
Since behavior therapy involves no medication, brain functions remain the same. But the skills you learn can change your life for the better. Adults undertaking behavioral therapy also receive training in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The purpose of CBT is to help adults understand how their thoughts can impact their behavior. And so, for you to change your behavior, you have to work on your thoughts.
Behavioral therapy can help adults cope with stress, change from negative thinking to positive thinking, identify behavior patterns, and break behavior patterns. For children, behavioral therapy works by setting goals and monitoring their achievement. A therapist helps to come up with objectives and ways of achieving them. If the child accomplishes them, a reward is issued. If not attained, there’s no punishment. But the gift is withheld until the child meets the goal.
A homeopathy is a treatment option based on the theory that “like treats like.” According to this approach, the causes of an ailment can help cure the disease. To cure a disease, a homeopath administers a remedy that yields similar symptoms as the ailment. Water is added to dilute the medicine to achieve the optimum concentration. The idea is that once the symptoms are triggered, the body will awaken its defense mechanism to fight the condition.
In essence, the body will end up healing itself. But the ability to do so has to be triggered by replicating the symptoms. Coffee Cruda is one example of how to use homeopathic treatment to treat ADHD in children. It helps children with sleeping disorders get better sleep. Another example is the Verta Alb, a plant from the lily family. Herbalists use it to treat ADHD and anxiety. The plant’s herbs help children and adults to calm their nerves.
How Does Yoga Work in ADHD Treatments?
Yoga is a treatment option that focuses on gaining internal peace. It’s considered an effective treatment option for ADHD compared to traditional motor training. A common symptom of ADHD is being hyperactive. Hyperactivity makes it challenging to rest and focus for a long time. On the other hand, yoga requires you to take a particular posture and concentrate on your breathing for a long time.
Therefore, yoga is a better way to counter the symptoms of ADHD. As you concentrate on breathing or the humming sound you make, your mind learns to focus. You train yourself how to restrain from external disruptions. Yoga often includes meditation. It’s believed that meditation has some positive effects on mental health. It trains the mind to focus and think deeply. As a result, you become better at making concise decisions.
Physical exercise is holistically beneficial for physical and mental health. Individuals with mental illness can alleviate symptoms through regular exercise. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain leading to more supply of nutrients to the brain. As a result, brain health improves, leading to:
- An improvement in your mood
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved memory
- Improved thinking ability
- Better sleep
Other Alternative treatments
Understanding ADHD can help deal with the condition in a better way. So you can use education as part of the treatment. Learn as much as you can about ADHD. Use discussion forums such as Reddit to share your experience and learn from others. The more you learn about your condition, the better you understand yourself. You now become the master over the disorder and not the other way round.
Others have found some relief from ADHD symptoms by engaging in exciting and creative activities. For instance, a young child can enjoy drawing and coloring pictures. Others will enjoy reading, writing, and so on. Find a creative outlet that you can engage in whenever you’re anxious. Connecting with others can also help alleviate some of the symptoms.
It’s essential to find some time to interact with family and friends or attend social gatherings once in a while. As you talk to people and engage in laughter, you may find your stress, depression, or anxiety starting to subside. And if connecting with people is not always possible, having a pet can always help. Since ADHD has no cure, adopting some of these lifestyle changes ought to help you deal with the condition and live a successful life.
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The Bottom Line
Most doctors would agree that the best ADHD treatment requires a combination of both behavior therapy and medication. But if your symptoms are milder, the use of anxiolytic meds can be optional. The medical treatment provides immediate symptom relief, which is essential for those with severe symptoms. On the other hand, the non-medical treatment has no side effects but may take time to see results.
If you have ADHD symptoms, try to alternate among the various natural treatments available. But do not start using meds unless you have a doctor’s prescription. An online diagnosis with a medic can help. Be sure to follow the doctor’s guidelines carefully. Remember, improper use of stimulants can have severe side effects.
If you’re afraid of these side effects, don’t worry. Use natural treatment. These are safe to use even without going through a holism diagnosis. And best of all, you get multiple benefits for mental health. Contact us at Mango Clinic to get a proper ADHD treatment or click the banner below to book your appointment.