Impulsivity is one of the common symptoms of ADHD. An impulsive person decides without thinking it through or considering the consequences. Impulsiveness in people with ADHD is likely to continue into adulthood and cause issues with family, friends, law enforcement, and employers. It’s, therefore, crucial to seek treatment to help with impulse control.
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Impulsivity and ADHD
It’s crucial to remember that impulsiveness has its upside and downside. On the one hand, it can help you take charge of new opportunities, but on the other hand, it could lead to making a detrimental choice. Impulsivity is typical for all human beings, but high levels of impulsive behavior are associated with psychiatric disorders such as ADHD.
Also, impulsivity is multidimensional. It includes challenges in controlling motor responses (physical actions) and the inability to control impulsive choices (choosing immediate rewards over long-term rewards). Some of the symptoms associated with impulsivity include:
- The inability to wait your turn. Some students may blurt out answers before the question is complete
- Interrupting others during conversations
- Being extremely impatient when waiting inline
- Experiencing temper tantrums
- Participating in risky and antisocial behavior with little regard for the consequences
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are conventional treatments for a range of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD. Research has shown that a serotonin deficit can contribute to mood disorders, including aggression. A study of 100 people with intermittent explosive disorder showed aggression outbursts, and irritability decreased after treatment with fluoxetine, after only the second week of medication.
Sometimes, if you have ADHD, you may use impulsive behaviors such as erratic shopping, gambling, or drug abuse to cope with depression and anxiety. SSRIs are also beneficial for impulsiveness worsened by depression and anxiety, which are psychiatric disorders that also afflict people with ADHD.
Selective Noradrenergic Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
SNRIs have also proved beneficial in managing impulsiveness in people with ADHD. Atomoxetine, in some instances, stops impulsiveness without inhibiting learning or attention. A 10-week study of individuals with a binge eating disorder showed that impulsive symptoms improved after treatment with atomoxetine.
Venlafaxine, another SNRI, has also proven beneficial in managing impulse control. However, it’s crucial to remember that much like other psychiatric medications, the use of SNRIs for impulse control is hard to determine. The results may vary per individual.
The benefit of SNRIs is thought to stem from the lack of stimulants in the medication. Research and observations over the years have shown that the use of stimulant medication worsens impulsive behaviors such as gambling, sexual behaviors, and hair-pulling.
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These are drugs that inhibit dopamine releases. Drugs such as naltrexone enhance the control of motor responses among patients with impulse disorders. Research also supports the use of naltrexone and nalmefene for treating impulsive behaviors such as gambling, alcohol abuse, kleptomania, and sexual behaviors, which may exhibit in people with ADHD.
Non-pharmacological interventions are great alternatives to medication, but can also be used in combination with medication to improve impulse control. Some of the treatments include:
This form of treatment includes providing people with ADHD and their families with information regarding the symptoms of the psychiatric disorder. Through understanding the condition, patients have a better chance of recognizing their impulsive behaviors.
It can also help individuals to challenge misconceptions about the disorder. Rather than thinking that impulsive behavior is entirely within their control, people with ADHD can finally understand how their condition exacerbates impulses. With the right information, a person with ADHD can start practicing mindfulness to control their impulses where possible.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a self-instructional form of therapy that aims to help a person with ADHD take a more planned and reflective approach to life. With CBT, you can learn to approach your choices with more thinking and use a goal-oriented format to deal with everyday life.
In combination with pharmacological treatments for ADHD, CBT can help you deal with impulsivity. You can take CBT sessions individually and with groups. CBT covers a broad range of topics such as behavior analysis, time management, mindfulness, acceptance, planning, and anger control, among others.
Each of these topics can help you control impulsivity by being more thoughtful about actions, controlling emotions to avoid tantrums, and planning activities to avoid idleness that may encourage impulsivity.
Parent-Led Behavioral Therapy
This form of therapy includes parental intervention and is crucial, especially for young children and adolescents. Going through therapy can help both parents and kids with ADHD cope with impulsivity associated with non-compliance. It’s excellent for parents who don’t want medication for their children.
If you’re a parent, you learn ways to analyze behaviors and address your interactions with the child to reduce problematic behaviors. The therapy can happen at home or in an office or hospital either alone or with groups.
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How Can We Help?
Treating ADHD requires the intervention of a professional doctor with experience in the treatment and management of ADHD symptoms. Mango Clinic has a team of learned and experienced doctors that can help you deal with impulsivity caused by ADHD. Contact us or click the banner below to book your appointment.