ADHD and alternatives to medication

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. Although often diagnosed during childhood, ADHD can affect people of all ages. Typical symptoms of ADHD are trouble focusing, issues with impulse control, and being overly active.

Although ADHD can present differently between people who are affected, some common behavioral signs of ADHD are:

  •  Forgetfulness
  •  Fidgeting
  • Impulse control issues
  • Issues with time management
  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Trouble finishing work or projects
  • Being easily distracted
  • Lack of motivation

What causes ADHD?

Although the exact cause of ADHD is still an area of active research, scientists believe it is likely caused in large part by dysregulation of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in the frontal cortex, limbic system, and related area of the brain. Some research has shown that ADHD could be genetically inherited if there is a family history of the disorder. Additionally, environmental factors could possibly contribute to the development of ADHD, such as exposure to lead during childhood.

How can ADHD be managed?

There are a variety of treatment options available for those who have ADHD. For children with ADHD, behavioral therapy and training for parents is an excellent place to start. Additionally, developing social skills and study skills are very helpful for symptom management. In some cases, prescription medication is also an effective method to treat ADHD symptoms.

Are there alternatives to medication for ADHD?

Yes, there are some alternatives to medication for ADHD that use a complementary health approach. In addition to behavioral therapy, dietary supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids can improve ADHD symptoms. Mindfulness activities like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga can also be effective alternative treatments. Lastly, we know sleep plays a significant role in managing ADHD and so melatonin can often be helpful if insomnia is a risk factor in a particular situation.

At the end of the day, the right combination of treatment depends on the person, and may change over time.

If you want to learn more about alternatives to medication for ADHD treatment, I recommend reading an article from NCCIH Clinical Digest entitled ADHD and Complementary Health Approaches: What the Science Says.