ADHD is a complex mental health condition that requires more than just medication to manage. ADHD is a medical issue most commonly found in children, and the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend using drugs before the age of 6. However, it is not a simple disorder that you can manage by a single non-medication treatment. To effectively control ADHD symptoms, you will require to adopt several non-medication therapies that range from sleep to exercising.
Doctors often prescribe various behavioral therapies to manage ADHD symptoms as first-line treatment. So, if you or your child experience ADHD symptoms, you can try the following non-medication therapies.
Getting enough sleep can dramatically improve a person’s health, especially their ADHD symptoms. Studies find that even an extra half an hour of sleep can help control impulsivity and reduce restlessness. Often, people with ADHD also have some sleeping disorders, and one problem can make the other worse.
It’s difficult for people with ADHD to get enough sleep because they can’t fall asleep due to hyperactivity. It makes them exhausted the next day and worsen their symptoms. Though doctors can prescribe sleeping aids to over this problem, you can achieve quality sleep by forming the good sleep-habits like:
- keep the bedroom cold and dark
- have a consistent bedtime routine, even on the weekends
- create a soothing winding-down process
Dividing the bedtime routine into different tasks can also make it easier for you to fall asleep. Also make keeping TVs, computers, phones, etc. in the room can create distractions. So, try keeping these things away from the bedroom for a better sleep experience.
Recent studies found that exercising for about 30 minutes can significantly positively impact the mental health of people. Exercise increases the endorphins levels in the brain, a chemical that can improve mood. It also enhances dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain, which increases attention and focusing abilities.
Short-term, aerobic exercises can have favorable effects on hyperactivity, attention, executive function, and other ADHD symptoms. Taking a walk for about half-an-hour four times per week can be a useful exercise to manage ADHD symptoms.
New research suggested that medication and mindfulness can also help manage symptoms of ADHD. The activity lets you raise awareness, learn how to sharpen focus, and practice self-control via breathing and meditation. A small-scale study found that those with ADHD who complete an 8-week mindfulness training program tend to exhibit fewer symptoms. While the results look promising, the data-set is not large enough to draw any concrete conclusions.
However, medication does not have any side effects, so if you can, you should practice it.
Playing a musical instrument can help strengthen attention and social skills. Music is rhythmic and structured, and playing requires multiple parts of the brain to work in unison.
The research linking music to the treatment of ADHD symptoms is not significant enough. However, it can make a person learn how to be a part of a group. Scientists also observed that those who play an instrument, take piano lessons, etc. tend to perform much better on executive function tests than those who don’t study music.
Making some dietary changes can also help a person with ADHD symptoms. Some food coloring and preservatives may incase hyperactivity in children. Try avoiding edibles the following preservatives and coloring:
- Sodium benzoate – a common ingredient found in carbonated beverages, fruit juice products, and salad dressings
- FD&C Yellow no. 6 – usually found in breadcrumbs, candy, soft drinks, icing, and cereal.
- D&C Yellow no. 10 – present in juices, smoked haddock, and sorbets.
- FD&C Yellow no. 5 – found in cereal, pickles, yogurt, and granola bars.
- FD&C Red no. 40 – present in gelatin desserts, children’s medication, ice cream, and soft drinks.
New research also points to a connection between omega-3s and ADHD. A study finds that kids with ADHD had lower levels of omega-3s, suggesting that increasing its amount in their diet may reduce ADHD symptoms.
Spending Time Outside
Spending time playing outside is beneficial for the kids, especially if they have ADHD. Studies find that spending about 20 minutes outdoors can improve their concentration. Natural settings and greenery are the major contributing factors in making a person relaxed and helping with their focusing abilities.
These remedies, often known as behavior modification therapies, work on solving specific problematic behaviors along offering solutions to prevent these behaviors from developing again in the future. These therapies involve setting up rules and goals.
Behavioral therapy is among the most recommended treatment for ADHD after medications, and doctors often prescribe therapy along medicines to speed up managing ADHD symptoms.
Brain Training Programs
Similar to behavioral therapy, these programs are also gaining traction. You can find these programs for computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. These are especially great for children as the program is an interactive game that a child can play.
Brain training programs help people with impulsivity and attention problems by offering them a game that looks normal but, in actuality, designed to exercise specific brain functions thought to contribute to ADHD symptoms.