If you, a family member, or a dependent child have recently experienced an Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD diagnosis, then you’ll already be considering how to move forward. How can you manage symptoms? Do you need to seek treatment? What even are the treatment options?

Here, we explore symptom management and the different routes you can take to help you and your family cope with life with ADHD.

Living life with ADHD

Life with ADHD can be very difficult. Symptoms can make normal, everyday situations are hard to manage. Typical symptoms vary from person to person, but they can include mood swings and difficulty controlling outbursts, being very restless and easily distracted, and having trouble staying organized and focused on tasks.

Children with ADHD may struggle to cope with life in the classroom or the demands of everyday family routines. They may struggle to listen to and follow instructions, appear careless in their school work, or find it difficult to concentrate for long. Adults may also find it hard to focus on their work, feel compelled to constantly change activities, or find it hard to organize their daily life.

ADHD is a very prevalent condition. If you or a family member have received a diagnosis, you are far from alone. Around 1 in 10 school-age children and around 1 in 7 adolescents have been diagnosed with ADHD in the US, according to figures from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Figures are lower amongst adults, with 4-5% of adults in the US believed to have the condition. Many doctors believe this is due to a lower proportion of adults seeking help with symptoms and thus receiving a diagnosis, however.

The good news from these figures is that, because of the number of people living with ADHD, there has already been a lot of scientific research completed and many treatments developed that you can benefit from.

Why is it important to treat ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic condition. This means it is persistent and long-lasting. Some young people may outgrow their symptoms to some degree by adulthood; for many others, symptoms might persist for a lifetime without treatment.

For this reason, it’s really important to seek help with ADHD as soon as possible. If left untreated, a child may struggle unnecessarily through school, an adult may struggle to stay at work, and relationships may suffer.

Unfortunately, ADHD is associated with an increased likelihood of poor mental health; depression and anxiety are more common amongst the ADHD population. Research also suggests that young people with ADHD are at an increased risk of engaging with destructive behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.

To safeguard you or your child’s education, career, mental health, relationships, safety, and long-term health, it really is sensible to get help with managing and treating ADHD symptoms.

ADHD medication

There are no medications that offer a permanent cure for ADHD. There are, however, several medications that successfully treat its symptoms. Some people find these medications helpful. They do have side effects, however. They can affect sleep quality and appetite. They may also cause stomach problems, headaches, dizziness, or nausea.

ADHD is a long-term condition and, as a result, many people are not keen to use medication for an extended period of time without exploring other options first. Thankfully, there are other ways of coping with and treating symptoms that may mean the medication is not necessary. Read on for more about these.

Can diet help?

A person’s diet affects all aspects of their mental and physical health. Whether you have ADHD or not, the importance of consuming a nourishing, healthy diet cannot be underestimated. Diet affects your ability to stave off disease and illness, your energy levels and fitness, your moods, your alertness, and so much more.

For someone with ADHD, it is crucial to eat well. This is so that brain function is optimized and a healthy state of mind is maintained as far as possible. It is recommended that a person with ADHD should be eating plenty of protein, vitamins, and healthy fats.

Protein-rich foods help generate healthy levels of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers and there is a close link between them and ADHD. Lower levels of certain neurotransmitters are thought to contribute to ADHD symptoms. A balanced diet containing enough protein from lean meat, seafood, beans, nuts, and dairy may help you manage symptoms.

Vitamins and minerals contribute to concentration levels, so it is especially important that someone with ADHD does not become vitamin deficient. Try to get plenty of variety into your diet from different vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Healthy fats are also crucial. You can find them in foods like avocado, seeds, nuts, and oils. Healthy fats contribute to basic cell functioning, helping the brain function at maximum capacity.

You should try to avoid foods with artificial colors and preservatives. These have been identified as potential triggers of hyperactivity and problems with focus and concentration.

While a healthy diet can and does help people with ADHD manage their symptoms, you may want or need to look at additional treatment options.

What other treatment options are available?

If you wish to go down a non-medicated route or would like to minimize medication by using other non-medicated therapies at the same time, then there are other options.

Behavior therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be helpful, either in an individual or group setting.

Non-medicated biofeedback treatments are successful. Neurofeedback for ADHD is a non-invasive therapy that is proven to address the symptoms of ADHD. It’s a form of brain training that uses EEG equipment to monitor brain waves in a relaxed and comfortable environment, sometimes even in your own home.

How does neurofeedback therapy work?

Neurofeedback therapy provides a fun workout for the brain, reinforcing and rewarding focus and concentration. One way it is used is to allow the patient to watch a favorite show or play a video game. When positive brain behavior is identified by the EEG monitors, the patient is rewarded with a clearer picture or sound.

Over a number of therapy sessions, the brain is successfully trained to focus better. Neurofeedback therapy can help many people improve their concentration but have particular benefits for both adults and children with ADHD. The therapy is based on very thorough scientific neurofeedback research and you can read published, peer-reviewed papers that explore the therapy in depth.

Your options

Here, we’ve looked at several options for managing ADHD. Before you commit to any treatment plan, be sure to speak to medical professionals and explore the potential advantages and disadvantages in depth. You should feel optimistic, however, that there is a treatment out there that can and will help.

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Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, an award-winning neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential. Earning a doctorate in Neuroscience from the revered Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Gala has spent over a decade trying to unravel the way neurochemical and neurophysiological changes in the brain affect the way we interact with the world. Her goal is to share her knowledge, encourage others to tap into and expand their brain's capabilities, and dispel any myths surrounding our most complex organ.

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