It may be difficult to know that ADHD cannot be cured. However, the symptoms can be successfully controlled and treated.
With proper treatment, you can expect to see improvements in your school or work performance, and you may notice improvements in your relationships, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
Although ADHD treatment is usually related to prescription drugs, this is not the only treatment available. Treatment, special accommodation, social skills training, and lifestyle changes can also help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.
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In fact, studies have found that the most effective way to treat ADHD is to combine drugs and behavioral interventions.
Medication is the most common treatment for ADHD. If you or your child is prescribed medication, it is important to monitor your symptoms and report any side effects. With this information, your doctor can adjust the prescription until the correct treatment dose is found.
The two main categories of drugs used to treat ADHD are stimulants and non-stimulants.
It may sound counterintuitive to prescribe a stimulant to overactive people. However, stimulants can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and increase concentration.
Common stimulants include:
Although stimulants are usually the first choice for the treatment of ADHD, sometimes non-stimulants may be used. You can choose this option if you or your child have side effects while taking stimulant drugs or are worried about abuse of stimulants. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe stimulants and non-stimulants at the same time.
Examples of non-stimulant drugs are:
The environment plays an important role in managing ADHD symptoms. An unorganized and unstructured environment can worsen symptoms. On the other hand, a structured, clean and predictable environment can help a lot.
Here are some examples of behavioral strategies for children and adults with ADHD:
- Establish routine procedures: Having simple, predictable routines throughout the day means that necessary tasks can be completed without last-minute panic. A healthy morning, afternoon, and evening routine can outline the necessary steps to complete the task.
- Create a checklist: You can create a checklist for any multi-step process that looks complicated or stressful. It can be used as a memory aid to help you or your child feel organized. For example, you can post a checklist on the front door to list all the items that you or your children need that day.
- Use the timer: To help you or your child focus on homework or work projects, set the timer to 15 minutes (meaning time for concentration). When it sounds, take a short break and then set your timer again.
- Set an alarm: You can set an alarm to remind you or your child to take medicine or leave home. Alarms can increase power because they reduce the need for reminders of others.
- Create a chart: If you want to include a certain behavior or habit in a day, create a chart that includes the days of the week. Every time you do this behavior—such as brushing your teeth—you get a star. Both children and adults think this is beneficial, and it can be used as a reminder and motivation to complete tasks.
- Use the planner: Use the planner to help you understand the passage of time and the schedule of the day, and mark deadlines, such as when you need to submit your work.
Some parents feel that if they need training, they somehow “failed” as parents, but this is not the case. Parent training teaches parents of children with ADHD the skills to manage their children’s behavior at home.
Parent training provides emotional support and also teaches specific disciplinary skills that have been shown to be effective in reducing behavioral problems in children with ADHD. Parents often learn how to establish clear rules, follow consistent results, and create more structure in the child’s day.
Parents also learn behavior modification strategies, such as how to use reward systems to motivate their children to do housework and homework. Moreover, they learn how to apply natural and logical results in an effective way.
Social skills training
Social skills often cause problems for people with ADHD, because the symptoms of ADHD can lead to rude-looking behavior.
For example, failing to notice subtle nonverbal cues, interrupting the speaker impulsively, or looking out the window when someone is speaking. Another example is crossing physical boundaries by being too close to people.
These actions are not intentionally rude, and family members and close friends understand this. However, if you do not develop new social skills, it is difficult to make friends, perform well at work, or date.
Social skills training may be part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The treatment can be given in a group setting or with a personal therapist, or an ADHD coach can teach social skills.
Counseling and psychotherapy
Studies have found that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for patients with ADHD. It helps to develop new behaviors. Importantly, it also helps relieve the shame and low self-esteem that affect many people with ADHD.
Cooperating with a counselor or therapist may be a useful way to solve problems (including unemployment and interpersonal problems) caused by ADHD. It can also help people who suffer from coexisting diseases such as depression and anxiety.
Talking with a healthcare professional who understands ADHD to find the coping mechanism that works best for you can be very helpful.
ADHD discussion guide
Get our printable guide to make an appointment for your next doctor to help you ask the right questions.
Creating more structure in your life can help control your symptoms. However, when you have ADHD, it is difficult to establish a consistent routine and organize it.
The ADHD coach can provide accountability when you create this structure. They may also help you or your child set goals, develop new habits, learn new skills, and work hard to integrate these into your life.
The coach may also act as a “stand-in.” A stand-in is someone who accompanies you when you perform difficult tasks.
Many people with ADHD are struggling with boring, mundane or multi-step tasks, such as housework, tidying up, and filing taxes. They may delay the start or go off track and let the project halfway through.
When you perform these tasks, the avatar sits in the same room as you. Their physical presence can help you focus on the task and reduce any anxiety you may feel.
Support groups provide education, emotional support and encouragement for parents of children with ADHD and people with ADHD. Being with someone who understands your struggles, you don’t even have to explain them, it can provide great comfort and a sense of belonging.
The support group is also a good place to learn about resources in your area, such as a knowledgeable ADHD doctor. Sometimes the support group has speakers, and sometimes you can simply share your experience.
When a person is officially diagnosed with ADHD, they are eligible for accommodation. This means that children can receive accommodation in school and adults can receive accommodation in the workplace.
Some people shyly ask for accommodation because they don’t want to attract the attention of others, or feel that they are making a fuss. However, the accommodation can provide you with support. They have created the most helpful environment so that you can get what you can achieve and do your best.
Examples of student accommodation include getting help writing notes in class, recording lectures, and being able to take exams in a quiet room. Contact the school teacher or the student disability center for more information about making these arrangements.
Examples of workplace accommodation include wearing noise-canceling headphones or flexible working hours. The other is to post a “Do Not Disturb” sign, even if it is not an office policy. Discuss with your boss or human resources department about workplace accommodations that may be helpful to you.
Lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and exercise, may also contribute to ADHD symptoms. A good way to incorporate these changes into your life is to make them as pleasant as possible, because motivation is an important part of ADHD. For example, choosing an item is fun for you and doesn’t feel like another “to do” exercise on your list.
Knowing as much as possible about what ADHD is and how it affects you or your child may be the most important part of the treatment process.
Difficulty regulating attention, impulsivity, and ADHD are the core symptoms of ADHD, but how do they work in your child or in your life? For example, does your child daydream and miss instructions, or does your child run into the street impulsively and possibly without looking? It can help you navigate through treatment options when you specifically understand the biggest ADHD challenge.
Fortunately, there is more information about ADHD than ever before. You can learn from websites, books and podcasts. Consider attending a local course or a national conference like the annual meeting of CHAD. And always remember to maintain an open dialogue with the doctor.
Various complementary therapies have been studied for ADHD. No one has ultimately proven to be more effective than traditional treatments. It is important to discuss any of these complementary treatments with your doctor and mental health professional before you begin.
Here are some complementary treatments for ADHD:
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Your treatment plan should be tailored to your needs and lifestyle. It is important to monitor your symptoms and progress so that you can continue to work hard to find strategies and treatments that will help you live with ADHD.