How do I Go About Treating ADHD?

wiseGEEK Writer

Treating ADHD is a matter of some controversy, but the question itself is flawed. Most people can’t treat ADHD by themselves and they need the advice of medical and other professionals to do so. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is not something solved by anything quick that can be obtained without the help of others. It is often best treated with a combination of therapies include psychotherapy, behavior or occupational therapy, and pharmacotherapy (medicines). There are people who avoid this last and use alternative therapies to avoid taking drugs.

Dogs have been shown to have a calming effect and can help children with ADHD.
Dogs have been shown to have a calming effect and can help children with ADHD.

The person with ADHD, whether child or adult, may find himself out of step with the rest of the world. School or work can be difficult places and a constant sense that they cannot cope with the demands of the world like most other people do takes a massive toll on the psyche. Education that a person has an illness called ADHD can be helpful but many doctors also recommend treating ADHD with therapy. Therapy can include learning life skills and coping strategies to deal with the specifics of the condition in daily life, while things like talk therapy may address the sense of alienation a person with ADHD may feel.

The feelings of alienation that accompany ADHD might be eased through talk therapy.
The feelings of alienation that accompany ADHD might be eased through talk therapy.

For many people, treating ADHD means using medications to help bring the condition under control. Such medications are varied, and there are a number of ones to chose from. The most common drugs for treating ADHD are stimulant based and help the brain produce higher levels of brain chemicals that may promote calm and increase attention. Other medications that might be tried include non-stimulant ones, and tricyclic antidepressants. When these fail to work, there are a few medications, most of them other types of antidepressants, that may be tried instead.

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The difficulty with treating ADHD with medications means that people may require these medications from fairly early in life when they are still developing. They can have unpleasant side effects and some people feel as though their personalities are suppressed when they take the medications. For this reason, many people investigate treating ADHD with alternatives first, including certain diets. Some diets eliminate things like salicylates or chemicals and dyes that people believe cause ADHD. These diets aren’t necessarily proven successful, though many people claim they have had success with them.

Another way of treating ADHD without medication is to tailor an environment in which the affected person can succeed. ADHD kids may have trouble in formal classrooms, and might be better educated in smaller private environments or at home. Adults with ADHD could create careers and jobs that play to their strengths and not their weaknesses. It’s important to recall that ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence, and there are ways to create academic and professional success for people with this condition.

It’s often suggested, especially since long term risks of medication are not always known, that people considering trying alternative methods for treating ADHD. This doesn’t mean that every alternative treatment is medically acceptable or without risk. Clearly, handing marijuana to a ten year old to smoke will not be popular. But some of the more mainstream therapies and treatments like changing diet, learning coping methods, and doing things like biofeedback, tend to pose little risk. Many doctors suggest trying these first before considering drug treatments.

ADHD can be treated by tailoring the environment to one in which the person with ADHD can succeed.
ADHD can be treated by tailoring the environment to one in which the person with ADHD can succeed.

Discussion Comments


I think that there are different types of ADHD. I've been talking with people who either suffer from ADHD themselves, or a friend or relative who does, for a semester assignment on ADHD in adults. In all of our discussions, they seem to describe differing symptoms and differing reactions to treatments.

I've reached the conclusion that each individual is unique and you have to figure out the best treatment for them. Some people don't need medicines and can manage their symptoms with things like sports, yoga, therapy and breathing exercises.

Others have more intense symptoms and absolutely require medication. I think it makes sense to try different things rather than forcing yourself to stick one treatment with the approval of a doctor.


I think ADHD in children is difficult to treat. Many pediatricians prescribe medicines but there are several unwanted side effects.

My nephew has been diagnosed with it and the medicine makes him tired, reduces his appetite and gives him sleeping problems. My sister resisted the medicines for a while because she had heard about these symptoms. The problem is that the disorder is also difficult to manage without medications.

Now they have lowered his dose a little bit and he is going to start a martial arts class. Martial arts is said to be very beneficial for kids with ADHD. They say it strengthens both their mind and gives them control over their reactions.

Hopefully the medication plus martial arts will give him the balanced treatment he needs. We all want to see him as a happy and healthy child.

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