Alternative treatments for ADHD


The rise in misdiagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has resulted in an increase in the abuse of ADHD medications. The importance of finding alternative ways to combat lack of concentration, disinterest, depression and hyperactivity is more important than ever in today’s age. ADHD medications are a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both of which are central nervous system stimulants used to restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. A study done by Dr. Lawrence Diller in 2014, noted how the United States Drug Enforcement Administration maintains records of the annual quotas approved for production by drug companies in the U.S. Annual quotas for approved production are probably the best indicator of the rates of which the drugs are being used.

 Characteristics of ADHD

As defined by the Center for Disease Control, ADHD is usually characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and hyperactivity. This impulsivity often results in functional impairment within academic, family and social settings. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed neurobehavioral disorder in children. Previous CDC reports indicate increasing trends in prevalence during the past decade and increases in ADHD medication use.

Those with ADHD can often feel a lack of interest in subjects that they are actually very interested in. The ability to sit still and focus calmly on one subject isn’t usually an option for people with this disorder. The symptoms of ADHD could attribute to many different aspects of a human’s personality. Many times, a person could be going through a traumatic experience at home, such as a sudden death in the family. Stressors experienced on a daily basis cause patients to lose their focus, exhaust interest in a subject or situation and cause a lack of appropriate levels of energy toward major life events. The weight of everyday occurrences on those with the disorder is why treating ADHD is of extreme importance.

 Alternative treatment techniques for ADHD

ADHD medications are a common treatment for people who have had ADHD for a period of time.  However, a 2014 study featured in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes that, for adolescents, treating ADHD with medication is mostly effective within the first year, waning in efficiency by the third year if not sooner.

It’s important to keep an open mind about treating ADHD, paying specific attention to alternative forms of therapy such as mindfulness meditation, neurofeedback, brain games and exercise. Instead of taking medication, some people with ADHD and other anxiety disorders might have better treatment results with weekly mindfulness therapy along with daily exercise. According to Dr. James M. Swanson from the University of California, Irvine, there are no long-term, lasting benefits from taking ADHD medications.

A recent trend in alternative therapies for ADHD is using a mindful, evidence-based therapeutic modality. Mindfulness begins with the willingness to be aware and in the moment. For those with ADHD, this concept can be incredibly difficult to grasp, which is why ADHD medication is a common choice when it comes to treating long-term symptoms of the disorder. Through an increased awareness of thought, emotion and behavior coupled with breathing techniques and yoga, mindfulness can have very positive results.

An example of certain techniques used in a mindfulness program comes from the University of California, Los Angeles’s  MAPs (Mindfulness Awareness Practices) program, developed by Lidia Zylowska, M.D. and Susan Smalley, Ph.D. The program explores the benefits of meditation treatment for teenagers and adults with ADHD. One aspect of this program is to teach clients about their “space of awareness,” or the symbolic perception of thought processes which is done through the use of visual aids. A picture of a blue sky represents their space of awareness and a picture of clouds symbolizes passing, temporary feelings and emotions. This technique teaches the clients how to be patient with their thoughts and feelings and serves as a visual reminder of the consistent passing of thoughts and moods. A person with ADHD can learn how to observe any negative states and impulsive thoughts without identifying with them personally. Additionally, the patient can practice seeing themselves positively through affirmations and focusing on the good things happening in the present moment.

Neurofeedback has also been suggested as a helpful therapy for people with ADHD and other anxiety issues. During a neurofeedback session, a clinician attaches painless electrodes to a patient’s scalp and measures the brain frequency using video, computer and sound. The patient learns how to control his or her own brain waves by observing how to produce the desired outcome on the screen. Neurofeedback has been said to increase IQ and attention span.

According to Dr. David Rabiner from Duke University, the trouble with medication is that its a temporary solution to a medical situation, so it could be a better idea to begin with medication and then gradually start brain activities like neurofeedback to replace medication. There are alternative solutions to enhance one’s cognitive ability and attention span, as opposed to simply relying on ADHD medications. ADHD medications can be extremely helpful and, when prescribed accurately, can show tremendously positive results in enhancing a client’s ability to focus and stay in the moment. Keeping an open mind to alternative therapies such as mindfulness meditation and neurofeedback along with brain games such as Sudoku and crossword puzzles can only add to the experience and quality of ADHD treatment.

To learn more about ADHD and alternative therapies you can call 855- 653-8178 for more information.

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