Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder affecting children and adults globally. It is characterized by inattention and excessive movement, which oftentimes leads to a low ability to do well in school. ADHD is becoming a well-known disorder as it is diagnosed more frequently than it was in the past.
The exact cause of ADHD has never been found, although medical doctors and researchers have compiled a list of potential causes. There is speculation that the disorder is connected to altered brain activity, heredity, maternal smoking or drug use, as well as childhood exposure to toxins.
After diagnosing a person with ADHD, some doctors will want to prescribe a medication that will counteract the disorder. Most often prescribed are stimulants, such as methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, and dextroamphetamine-amphetamine. Also prescribed are non-stimulant medications, anti-depressants, and drugs prescribed primarily for high blood pressure. All of the preceding drugs have been proven to balance out the brain chemicals thought to cause ADHD.
Because of the number of side effects to the medication, and the amount of those who would rather not use prescription drugs, alternative treatments are available. The following treatments, in most instances, have proven to be as effective.
There are many different counseling options available for those diagnosed with ADHD, as well as the families of the diagnosed. Meeting with a trained psychologist, psychiatrist, or other medical professional can help a family understand what the diagnosis means, and the best ways to change the behavior. Options include, but are not limited to, those listed below.
- psychotherapy: psychotherapy invites the diagnosed to talk about his/her issues and to deal with the symptoms from ADHD
- behavior therapy: behavior modification, in many instances, deals with a system of rewards and punishment
- family therapy: this type of counseling is available for families living with someone with ADHD, as it helps family members cope with differences inside the household
Some research studies have shown that alterations in diet can aid in suppressing the symptoms of ADHD. For instance, one study has shown that eating meals high in protein can help students with the disorder do just as well in school as those non-hyperactive students. Also, deficiencies in fatty acids have been linked to ADHD, so diets high in fatty acids can also be helpful.
Sometimes, because of allergies to certain foods, maintaining a diet to correct deficiencies is not an option. In these instances, supplements can be very helpful in the treatment of counter-acting these deficiencies. The following deficiencies have been linked to ADHD, and can be found in the form of supplements:
- omega-3 (Fatty Acids)
- vitamin C or other antioxidants
Often, no one alternative is completely adequate for the supressing of ADHD symptoms. Because of this, a mixture of counseling, nutrition changes, and the use of supplements may be used.
It is urged, however, that a doctor be consulted before trying any treatment. Doctors are able to suggest the best treatment options based on the needs of the diagnosed.