Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by
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There are no long-term studies of the effects of methylphenidate on adults. However, rat studies showed after 3 weeks of treatment, neurodegeneration and inflammation of cerebellum tissue was discovered.18 You might find yourself wondering if there are alternative ways to treat your ADHD without medication. Here’s what you need to know about ADHD treatment and alternatives to medication that may work for you.
What Is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, is described as a set of symptoms in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. A positive diagnosis depends on a qualifying number of symptoms, which may or may not be assessed easily unless a very meticulous assessment protocol is used. Some of the symptoms include.2
What Causes ADHD?
To date, no one knows a direct “cause” of ADHD. However, researchers have theories that both attention and hyperactivity factors may be related to lower levels of activity in the area of the brain that controls attention.4 Since the diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD is subject to opinion and lack of proper clinical assessment, there may be multiple reasons for the symptoms that are listed in the DSM that describe the condition, including Environmental risk factors such as heavy metal and chemical exposures, substance abuse, lack of sleep and many others that a prescription drug would not resolve.19
Are There Other Ways to Treat ADHD Without Medication?
As mentioned, the most common treatment for ADHD is amphetamine-based prescription medication, like Adderall or Ritalin.5 Amphetamine-based medications are highly addictive, can cause undesirable health outcomes, and are under-studied as to their long-term effects. Fortunately, there are other ways to treat ADHD symptoms without the use of medication.
If you are concerned about introducing stimulants to your child or yourself, you likely want to know what is an alternative to ADHD medicine? Below, we’ve listed some holistic ways to address ADHD.
1. Child/Parent Behavior Training
Behavior training for a child diagnosed with ADHD is a form of treatment that involves behavioral interventions. Behavioral interventions teach a child how to cope with their emotions while also identifying and trying to change any problematic behaviors. This training can occur with parents, teachers, and therapists, too.
Parents’ involvement in behavior training helps them learn crucial skills that can help their child do their best at home or school, as well as in life.6 When the child and parent combine the skills they learned throughout behavior training, they can work together to cope with the symptoms of ADHD and succeed.
In multiple randomized, controlled trials, psychoeducation for a child diagnosed with ADHD and their parents was found to improve symptoms in some children in just a few months.7 Depending on the child, behavioral training can look like teaching organization skills, attention skills, social skills, and more. All these skills help them to learn how to properly behave and deal with emotions at all levels.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a method of therapy that focuses on identifying and changing behaviors as well as exploring your thoughts, feelings, and the causes of all the above. CBT is one of the most popular forms of therapy for a variety of psychological disorders, including anxiety and depression. It is now used increasingly to help treat symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults.
CBT is highly recommended by many professionals for children and adults that struggle with controlling their emotions or having angry outbursts.8 It has also been found that CBT in combination with other treatment methods, including behavior training, can help address problematic behavior.
An elimination diet works by eliminating a specific food or food group from your diet to see if there is any benefit to your overall health. Elimination diets are often used to identify food allergies. In this case, they may help you identify triggers for your ADHD symptoms. When symptoms like hyperactivity are enhanced by environmental or dietary factors, it is much harder for a person with ADHD to perform basic tasks.
Omega fatty acids can be found naturally in a variety of foods, including many fish and plants. Eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two common fatty acids that aid in brain function. Researchers believe that having enough of these fatty acids is essential for optimal brain health.9
Biofeedback is a technological method of examining psychological functions. A person is connected to an electrical feedback machine that can help them measure and even change their responses after exposure to certain stimuli. The ultimate goal of using biofeedback is for a person to be able to better control their body. Promising results for improving attention span were also found within one study covered by the analysis.10