Is ADHD on the rise? Or have advances in medicine allowed for accurate diagnoses of children previously just thought of as ‘naughty’ or ‘disruptive’? Maybe it’s our modern diets, containing more preservatives, hormones and chemicals (all of which affect ADHD symptoms) than they did 50 years ago?
Whatever the case, we now have a generation of young adults with ADHD who were diagnosed as children, and we’re beginning to have some understanding of the long term effects of ADHD treatment.
What exactly is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that causes problems with concentration and paying attention. Some people with ADHD may be extremely restless (hyperactive) while others don’t display hyperactivity, and are typically thought of as ‘daydreamers’.
ADHD affects a person’s performance at school, college and work; and also causes emotional and behavioural issues such as anxiety and anger. Whether behaviour symptoms are linked to the actual condition, or as a result of frustration with trouble concentrating, is not clear.
The pros and cons of ADHD medication
For many people with ADHD, medication is a lifesaver. ADHD treatment is usually stimulant based. When taken as directed, amphetamines help to improve concentration. The problem is that amphetamines can also be abused and are highly addictive. They can give a ‘buzz’ that causes overconfidence. Physically, the abuse of amphetamines causes high blood pressure, increased heart rate and body temperature.
The emotional side of ADHD – anxiety and feelings of frustration – actually make people with ADHD more prone to developing an addiction. This is why it’s important to look into alternative treatments to improve focus and concentration.
Alternative ADHD treatment options
The food you eat plays a large role in triggering ADHD symptoms or making them worse. Try an elimination diet, cutting out sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, certain meats, and food dyes. See if your symptoms improve. Gradually reintroduce foods, and take note if any of them seem to exacerbate your symptoms. An ADHD diet should be low in preservatives, and high in complex carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids.
Exercise – especially cardio – is beneficial for people with ADHD. It helps to improve cognitive ability and motor functioning. The social aspect of team sports is also great to assist with any behaviour and social difficulties associated with ADHD.
3. Mindfulness meditation
Meditation can help to quiet the buzzing thoughts of an ADHD brain. Mindfulness meditation is a practice that teaches you how to meditate and redirect thoughts, calm the brain and learn to be still in the moment.
4. Talk therapy
For ADHD that is triggered by, or triggers emotional and behavioural problems, talking it out may be the answer. There is no shame in seeing a therapist or a counsellor to speak about your emotions. In fact, talk therapy is extremely valuable as it teaches you how to recognise and manage your emotions and behaviours.
5. Executive functioning training
People who have ADHD struggle with executive functioning – organisational skills, decision making etc. The good news is that all of this can be learned, even if you’re not naturally good at it. Take advantage of any courses or online programmes to help develop skills such as time management and focused thinking.
If you’re struggling with ADHD and think that you may be abusing your medication, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Speak to your parents, a counsellor at college, or even your doctor. There are alternative treatments for ADHD that can help you function, without the danger of addiction.