- Mental Health
Adult ADHD Treatment Without Medication
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects adults as well as children. In fact, 60-80% of children affected with ADHD will have the condition in adulthood as well.
Adults with ADHD exhibit many of the same symptoms as children. These include:
- short attention span
- difficulty paying attention to details
- easily distractible
- failure to complete tasks
- rapid mood swings
These symptoms may cause problems for adults with ADHD both in their home life and relationships and at work.
There are a number of medications that are effective in treating ADHD. However, some people find the side effects objectionable, and drugs may not even be necessary to treat mild cases. Both mild and severe cases benefit from certain types of behavioral therapy.
Here are some natural adult ADHD treatments:
Take Up a Sport
Physical activity is one of the best ways to wear off excess energy. Exercise also produces endorphins and other chemicals in the body that help reduce stress and anxiety, elevate mood, and prevent insomnia.
Some adults with ADHD may find the social stimulation of team sports helps them maintain interest, and the strategic element of many team sports may improve organization and planning skills, while solitary sports such as long distance running, biking, and swimming may improve concentration skills.
Spend Time in Nature
One of the best sports for adults with ADHD to take up might be hiking and backpacking. There is growing evidence that spending time in a green setting can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Studies suggest that even looking at a natural setting can improve concentration, relieve anxiety and stress, and aid relaxation. Although it focuses on children, Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods provides a thorough overview of the research relating to the treatment of ADHD with "nature therapy."
The greatest relief is provided by the most pristine settings, but even a bustling city park is enough to have an effect. The important factor seems to be the presence of green growing things. Oceans and lakes provide some of the same benefits.
If you have ADHD, spend as much time outdoors as possible: gardening, hiking, strolling, or even simply sitting on a park bench. Inside, decorate your home or apartment in relaxing earth tones such as green, blue, and brown, and consider acquiring houseplants or wall art depicting pristine natural settings. When possible, choose homes and apartments that offer views of natural settings.
More Nature Therapy
Limit Media Consumption
There is strong evidence that large amounts of time spent watching television, playing video games, and surfing the internet may shorten attention spans due to the high degree of visual and auditory stimulation. Loud music and blaring radio announcers may have the same effect.
If you are an adult with ADHD, limit the amount of time you spend doing these activities and avoid leaving televisions, radios, and music players on for extended periods of time as "background" noise.
Instead, incorporate quiet activities that build attention spans and encourage concentration into your daily routine, such as reading, chess, crossword or sudoku puzzles, and certain hobbies. Try to give yourself at least an hour every day of quiet time, with no background noise and limited distractions.
If the level of environmental noise in your neighborhood is high, consider investing in ear plugs, a white noise machine, or other noise blocking aids. Thick carpets and wall hangings can also reduce background noise in homes or apartments.
Eat a Balanced Diet
There is significant scientific evidence that diets high in sugar, caffeine, and processed foods worsen the symptoms of ADHD.
If you have ADHD, pay careful attention to your diet:
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and high quality meats, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.
- Eat plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in high quantities in olive oil, coldwater fish, grassfed meat, eggs, and dairy products, and other sources.
- Limit consumption of refined sugars (including table sugar and high fructose corn syrup), refined grains, fried foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat organic produce and organic, grassfed animal products whenever possible. There is some evidence that pesticide and hormone residues on food may worsen the symptoms of ADHD.