ADHD is a prevalent health condition that’s affecting about 4.4% of the general population in the U.S. It comes with high rates of comorbidity (substance abuse, depression) and emotional, occupational, and social impairments, which affect both the patient and their families. When not treated, ADHD can cause problems throughout the patient’s life.
It adversely impacts job performance, marital satisfaction and can even lead to divorce. Luckily, various treatment options ranging from prescription medication to behavioral intervention can help relieve the symptoms and make ADHD much less of a problem in running daily activities.
Read on for all there is to know about ADHD, including diagnosis and the treatment options available.
Although there’s no specific adhd test to determine whether you have ADHD, your doctor can conduct a detailed assessment and make an accurate diagnosis. The assessment may include:
- Physical examination
- Series of interviews
- ADHD rating scales
- Information gathering, like personal and family medical history and current medical issues
Generally, the standard treatments for ADHD include medications, therapy, education services and guidance plus counselling. These treatment options can only relieve ADHD symptoms, but they won’t cure them.
Medication plays a pivotal role in ADHD treatment. Selecting the best medication for your condition can be a long trial-and-error process that’s related to the experienced side effects, your history, genetics, and unique metabolism. Fortunately, your medical specialist can help you figure out the right medication, dosage, and how often you need to take it. The following are the two main types of medication.
Stimulant drugs are considered the first-line prescribed treatment for ADHD. These drugs work by boosting and balancing the levels of brain chemicals called dopamine and neurotransmitters. In effect, these stimulants improve hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, thus helping you focus better.
The most commonly used stimulants include:
- Amphetamines (Dextroamphetamine, Adderall, Dextrostat)
- Methylphenidates (Ritalin, Concerta)
- Dextromethylphenidate (Focalin)
Although stimulant medications effectively control ADHD symptoms in most patients, about 10%-30% of patients either have intolerable side effects or respond negatively to a treatment. In such cases, non-stimulant medications are your best treatment options. They include antidepressants such as nortriptyline, atomoxetine, and at times clonidine and guanfacine.
Side effects of ADHD medication
When trying and adjusting ADHD medication, it’s common to experience various side effects. Most doctors start with small doses and increase it gradually if the side effects are tolerable. However, if adverse reactions persist, your specialist can recommend another stimulant or a non-stimulant.
The side effects of stimulant medications include:
- Stomach pain
- Sleep disturbance
- Decreased appetite
Side effects associated with non-stimulants include:
- Dry mouth
Every psychotherapy approach addresses specific problems that you face. These issues include impulsiveness, poor problem-solving skills, problems with self-esteem, poor time management skills, and much more. Therapy is also vital in treating additional issues like anxiety disorders that may come with ADHD. For psychotherapy treatment to effectively handle all the symptoms associated with ADHD, it should contain a psychoeducational component.
It’s essential for long-term adherence and treatment compliance, beneficial for both patients and their significant others. Psychoeducation involves learning about your disorder, including how the condition affects different areas of your life, recognizing the symptoms, and treating it. Psychotherapeutic modalities that fulfil specific needs of ADHD patients include cognitive behavioral therapy, marital counseling and family therapy, and other interventions.
Through this structured type of counselling, you’ll acquire skills that will help you manage your behavior and change the negative beliefs that are causing issues in your life. You’ll be able to transform negative thinking patterns into more hopeful and realistic views.
Another main focus of cognitive-behavioral therapy is on practical issues associated with ADHD like work performance problems, poor time management, and disorganization. It can also help address mental health conditions such as substance abuse and depression.
Family and marital therapy
Typically, most adults with ADHD have an unsuccessful family functioning and marital adjustment. In most cases, spouses without ADHD often complain about their partners being forgetful, messy, poor listeners, and unreliable. They also feel overburdened as they feel like all the family responsibilities lie on their shoulder.
Equally, your partner may feel like you’re not making efforts to change your behavior. That’s why marriage and family therapy should involve your partner as well, irrespective of their health condition. By exploring these issues together and gaining a better understanding of the condition, you’ll be able to focus on constructive ways of communicating with each other and dealing with ADHD.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Some of the home remedies that can aid you to cope up with ADHD include:
- Keeping an appointment book
- Breaking down tasks into more manageable steps
- Using sticky pads to write reminders
- Keeping an appointment book to track deadlines
- Following a routine
Relaxation techniques to treat ADHD
In addition to lifestyle and home remedies, taking other vital steps can help you manage ADHD. When practiced consistently, relaxation techniques can decrease impulsivity and depression while increasing attention and focus. They include:
Mindfulness meditation works by relaxing your mind and body and centering your thoughts. Over time, it will increase activity in your prefrontal cortex (a crucial part of the brain responsible for planning, attention, and impulse control). Aside from improving focus and helping you resist destructions, mindfulness meditation provides more control over your feelings.
Like meditation, regular yoga routines help you relax and learn discipline, which assists you in managing your ADHD symptoms. By learning deep breathing techniques, you’ll become centered and cultivate balance and stillness.
Parent training and education programs
Traditional childrearing is different from raising a child with ADHD. Here, normal household routines can become quite challenging, depending on the severity of your kid’s symptoms. Luckily, parent training and education programs will help you learn ways of adopting different approaches and limit destructive behavior.
Fostering your child’s development means modifying your behaviors and learning to manage their behaviors. Training and educational programs can help you understand the two principles of behavior management therapy.
The first one, positive reinforcement, entails encouraging and rewarding good behavior. The second is about following bad behavior with appropriate consequences. And remember, these principles must apply in every sector of your child’s life, including classrooms and social arenas.
Seek medical advice
As you can see, effective ADHD treatment includes several approaches like medication, therapy, and behavioral measures. Just ensure you reach out to your doctor to get the proper treatment that will work best for your unique symptoms.