ADHD—Do We Really Have Treatment Options?
Michael just couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t pay attention. He seemed “jumpy” at school and worst of all, the school nurse humiliated him in front of his friends reminding him to take his pills. His teacher even told his mom he would never succeed at anything because he just couldn’t focus. The danger is that Michael could have believed that his fate was sealed.
Instead, Michael found other options and treatment outside of just the pills and became the Michael we know today. The most decorated Olympian in history: Michael Phelps. Michael did it, and so can you!
The Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) reputation is well known. Often, symptoms are seen in childhood and can continue on into adulthood. ADHD can result in low self-esteem, relationship problems, and even issues at work and school.
Because diagnosis typically requires a licensed professional, it is uncertain how many truly suffer from ADHD. The problems associated with ADHD are not limited to just attention and hyperactivity. ADHD can be evidenced in behavior, such as aggression, excitability, irritability, lack of restraint and repeating words and actions. Unfortunately, ADHD can show up cognitively as absent-mindedness and problems focusing. People suffering with ADHD often have frequent mood swings from anxiety to anger to boredom and excitement in a matter of seconds. This can lead to depression and even learning disabilities.
The good news for all ADHD sufferers is there are fantastic options for treatment.
The first therapy is possibly the most common solution, medication. For a list of medications complete with full reviews go to: https://www.drugs.com/condition/attention-deficit-disorder.html
Medications range in what they specifically do, from a stimulant (like Methylphenidate [Ritalin] https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682188.html), to cognitive enhancers like Atomoxetine (https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a603013.html) and Antihypertensives like Clonidne (https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682243.html).
Other therapies that can be utilized in conjunction with or sometimes separately from medication include support groups (used more with adults or parents of children with ADHD) or anger management classes that practice trigger avoidance, coping mechanisms, and practicing mindfulness.
Family therapy is also recommended in dealing with ADHD. Sometimes we focus on the person with ADHD and miss the family element. For more on studies on family therapy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15846741
Exercise and Nutrition
ADHD can be treated through diet and exercise as well. Adam Leibovitz, a cyclist, has shown improvement with his exercise routine: https://www.bicycling.com/culture/people/riding-my-ritalin-how-one-cyclist-gained-control-over-his-adhd Other studies have also shown improvement in cognition and behavior with those who exercise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5281644/ Nutritionally speaking, a wealth of information is available for those suffering with ADHD. (informational link) A particular case worth noting is the study done on L-Theanine (an amino acid found in green tea) in boys with ADHD. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00291070 For more on L-Theanine and the reduction of psychological and physiological stress, see here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16930802
Additionally, biofeedback, or neurofeedback, (also known as an electroencephalogram[EEG] https://www.healthline.com/health/eeg#procedure5) is a viable therapy. Neurofeedback is a therapy that has shown exciting results, particularly the sustained results. Essentially Neurofeedback’s goal is to retrain your brain to self-regulate and enhance brain function, resulting in alleviated symptoms. Neurofeedback is accomplished through instant feedback from a computer program that evaluates the brainwaves and makes adjustments for your benefit. I’ll write more on this specifically in next week’s post.
The good news is that there are many professionals that can assist you or your child with ADHD including a psychiatrist, pediatrician, primary care provider or a clinical psychologist. In my experience, a team is always better than a single solution. Don’t be afraid to open up about your issue with ADHD or your child’s. Michael did it. You can do it. You have the options. The best is yet to come! There is hope!
Concerned your child has ADHD? Take a self-test here (Association, n.d.):