How To Treat ADHD: A Treatment Option Guide

By Dylan Buckley|Updated August 31, 2022

Hyperactivity, aggression, an inability to focus on important tasks: these are the kinds of issues that people of all ages with ADHD must deal with regularly. These symptoms and the many others that accompany this disorder can greatly impact an individual and their ability to navigate through the challenges of daily life properly.

Could You Use Support Determining The Best ADHD Treatment?

If you are one of these individuals who has been diagnosed with ADHD, however, the good news is that there are plenty of treatment options at your disposal that can help you to get back to all of the things that matter to you. Hope is just around the corner!

To make it easier for you to learn more about what you can do to alleviate and overcome your ADHD symptoms, take a look at the comprehensive treatment options guide provided below that will give you advice on how to treat ADHD and how to best use these many treatment tools.

Can ADHD Be Cured Or Only Treated?

Before we dive into some of the treatment options available, we first need to tackle the terminology that is often used by those seeking treatment. There is a vast difference between an ADHD cure and an ADHD treatment, and this prompts us to ask the question, can ADHD be cured, or are there only ways of treating ADHD?

ADHD is, in fact, a chronic disorder that has no cure, meaning that while you cannot cure ADHD, you can reduce the number and severity of symptoms experienced and make it easier to deal with the condition. Many people who have ADHD lead successful lives because of their treatment plans and can take away most of the impact that the disorder had on them before their treatment options.

This is an important distinction (and one we felt was vital to include in this guide) for those who have been scouring the web for how to cure ADHD using medications or natural cures for ADHD as people who are providing "cures" on the internet are essentially giving out misleading information. You cannot cure this disorder, but you can find ways to make it more manageable.

So, how is ADHD treated?

Common Medications Designed For Treating ADHD

ADHD medications are very effective at treating symptoms for most individuals, and there are an abundance of options to choose from if you and your mental health care provider feel as though these treatment methods would work best for you. Here are some of the following medications that have proven to help treat individuals with ADHD.

Short-Acting/Intermediate/Long-Acting Stimulants

Stimulants help those with ADHD by increasing certain amounts of chemicals that are found in the brain, such as norepinephrine and dopamine. These chemicals are often formed as a way for the brain to communicate messages and in the case of those with ADHD, the brain doesn't have enough time to form and send these messages and the chemicals properly are reabsorbed before the process can be completed. Stimulants act as a way to ensure that these chemicals stay around long enough so that messages can make their way through the brain rather than being reabsorbed prematurely. Some of the most common stimulants that are used include Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. Side effects of these medications may include weight loss and a loss of appetite, tics, crankiness, and problems sleeping.

Non-Stimulant Medications

Along with stimulants, there are also non-stimulant medications (although in far fewer numbers than stimulant medications) that have been proven to combat the symptoms of ADHD. Examples of this medication, like Strattera, act as an SSRI like most medications designed for mood disorders. This means that they focus on boosting certain chemicals within the brain without providing the other effects that a stimulant would be expected to provide. As such, the side effects for this type of medication are far different than those listed above and include the possibility of decreased appetite, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, mood swings, indigestion, and fatigue. Because these medications were either meant for mood disorder or are closely related to these other medications, you should also be aware that depressed mood and potential suicidal ideation may occur.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available to assist 24/7.

Antidepressant Medications That Can Be Used For ADHD Symptoms

In addition to the two medication types listed above, there is also the possibility of using antidepressants as a way to treat symptoms, despite the medication not being explicitly used for this purpose. Medications like Wellbutrin and Norpramin work similarly to Strattera except the fact that there are some differences in efficiency and the fact that they weren't made for ADHD. For these medications, side effects include nausea, trouble sleeping, dry mouth, constipation, changes in sex drive, and sweating. As with the non-stimulants listed above, depression and suicidal ideation may be experienced, and it is necessary for you to seek help as soon as possible if you develop these severe symptoms.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available to assist 24/7.

Alternative Treatment Methods And Advice

Some people would prefer to explore other options before they start taking medication to ensure that they don't need it and that they don't have to deal with any of the negative side effects that come with these options. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment methods available and other small actions that can help certain individuals cope with the symptoms of ADHD without drugs. If this is the course of action you would prefer to take, here are some alternative treatment methods that have been said to yield results.

Natural Remedies

Rather than taking medications, some supplements can sometimes be taken in their place that is said to be able to boost brain function and act similarly to the medications that are prescribed for this disorder. For example, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B6 are both nutrients that people don't often get in their diets, and these supplements can be taken to help improve brain function and reduce the severity of ADHD in some individuals. Just make sure that you understand how much you should be taken to reap the benefits of these supplements and that you are not already getting your recommended amount in your daily diet. Taking too many supplements will not usually enhance your current results and may instead contribute negative side effects in some cases.

Exercise And Improved Dietary Choices

What we do with our bodies and what we put in our bodies are two choices that are important to our overall health. Making better dietary choices such as increasing your protein intake and fiber can help reduce sugar spikes that contribute to hyperactivity and adding certain nutrients like Zinc and Iron can improve your brain function. Also, exercise can help to tire you out so you don't feel as hyper throughout the day and certain exercises that require attention can assist in boosting your overall focus and concentration. If you can, try to exercise outside in nature on occasion as being around nature is said to help you better cope with your ADHD as well.

Could You Use Support Determining The Best ADHD Treatment?

Mindfulness And Brain Exercises

The biggest issue with having ADHD as an adult is the fact that it can be hard to squeeze exercises and remedies into the day when one already is balancing a busy work-life schedule. This is where mindfulness and brain-training exercises come in. Mindfulness exercises, which could consist of meditation or other activities that help to bring you into the moment, work to improve your focus and your awareness and can easily be done throughout the day in periods as short as five minutes. Likewise, brain exercises help to boost basic skills and improve focus and concentration, and there are a myriad of these programs out there that have a great reputation and can get you started at little to no cost.

Most importantly, all ADHD treatment methods are only effective if you know how to implement them into your lifestyle for proper results. Additionally, medication is fairly effective on its own but is shown to be much more effective when used in combination with talk therapy, especially if you are dealing with other mental health issues that have stemmed from your condition or are dealing with issues such as anger that need to be worked on to improve your current way of life. Simply put, therapy goes a long way in treating ADHD, and it is certainly one aspect of treatment that you should consider if you need guidance during the treatment process.

If you have already looked into counseling and are looking for a great service that will provide you with the excellent care you need but with the ease of today's communication, consider using BetterHelp for your counseling needs. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that gives you instant access to qualified therapists who can help you work through your ADHD and provide you with the necessary resources that will help you to do so in the best way possible.

All you have to do to get started with BetterHelp is click on the link above and take the short survey that will help match you with the right therapist today!

Below are commonly asked questions on this topic:

What is the best treatment plan for ADHD?

Medication treatment is the first line of treatment for ADHD. Specifically, central nervous system stimulant medication paired with behavior therapy. Behavior therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can help people with ADHD learn tools and strategies that can help them succeed. There are other interventions or forms of support that can help those with an ADHD diagnosis, too. For example, evidence supports that occupational therapy can be beneficial, and many people with ADHD benefit from accommodations at work or school. If a child, adolescent, or adult has another condition or concern to address alongside their ADHD diagnosis, they may do so in conjunction with ADHD treatments. You may be able to find support groups to attend alongside ADHD treatments as a mode of peer support. These can include support groups for an individual with ADHD and support groups for family members of those with ADHD (e.g., adults with a child or children who live with ADHD). The centers for disease control website provides a number of different tips for parents of a child or children with ADHD. For example, a parent may limit choices, manage distractions, help a child plan, use goals, praise, or other rewards, and create positive opportunities through hobbies and activities they enjoy. It's very possible for children and adults with ADHD to live a full, happy, and healthy life. The right treatment plan and the right balance of treatment options can help.

Make sure to consult with your or your child's doctor before you stop, change, or start a new medication routine. A physician can provide close monitoring for side effects and other potential concerns and adjust a person's dose of medicine as needed.

What are three treatment options for ADHD?

Three treatment options for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD include medication, behavior therapy, and parenting training. The centers for disease control or CDC website indicates that ADHD often co-occurs with other conditions or disorders. These can include but aren't limited to learning disorders, depression, and anxiety. Therapy can help children, adolescents, and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder curb problem behaviors, provide support and coping skills for concerns like emotional regulation, and more. People may develop routines and practices that help them manage ADHD symptoms; for example, putting important items, like keys, in the same place daily. ADHD can pose challenges for people of all ages, including adults as well as children and adolescents, but having the proper support and tools can make a world of difference. There's a large body of research on treatment for ADHD, including studies specifically on adults, children, and adolescents. These can be found on the national library of medicine website and other online spaces. Parents of children and adolescents with ADHD may benefit from knowing that medication treatment for ADHD has been around for quite some time and has been studied thoroughly.

What is the gold standard treatment for ADHD?

Stimulant medicine has an efficacy rate of 70-80% for children with ADHD and an efficacy rate of 70% for adults. Often, ADHD medication is used alongside other evidence based treatments, such as behavior therapy. For people aged 6+, a combination of both medication and behavior therapy is recommended for the treatment of ADHD. In fact, this combination of stimulant medication and behavior therapy is seen as the golden standard for the treatment of ADHD. For a child or children with ADHD under the age of 6, parent training in behavior management is recommended first before the use of ADHD medications.

ADHD treatment options like behavior therapy, parent training, and medication can help people with ADHD better manage symptoms and behavior. In school, children and adolescents with ADHD often benefit from an IEP or 504 plan. Children and adolescents with ADHD may face a number of different challenges, including those that relate to school and their social life. Having the right support in place for children and adolescents with ADHD can help. Adults with an ADHD diagnosis who are enrolled in school should also be able to get accommodations that might be helpful in university settings. If you are a teen or adult enrolled in college courses and need accommodations, speaking with your school’s disability office may be the first step.

What if you think that you, your child, or your teenager might have ADHD but aren't sure?

There is good news: People can receive a diagnosis of ADHD at any age, including adults as well as children and adolescents. During an ADHD evaluation, a medical provider will ask questions such as when your or your child’s symptoms began. It’s relevant to note that ADHD can look a number of different ways. There are three presentations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD; primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. Those with primarily inattentive ADHD may have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder or ADD in the past. If you believe that you or your child may have ADHD, consult with a medical professional who can help. An ADHD diagnosis can help a child, teen, or adult get the treatment for ADHD that they need, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

What are the two most common treatment approaches for ADHD?

Two of the most common and evidence based treatment approaches for ADHD (or ADHD treatments) include medication treatment and behavior therapy. It's often recommended that behavior therapy and medication are used together in those aged 6 or above. In an ADHD treatment option guide, this is generally what you'll see first. Evidence supports parent training to help children with ADHD. In parent training, parents learn strategies that can help them with a child's behavior and success in school, the home, and other parts of life. For example, social relationships, which can be challenging for people with ADHD at times. Especially if challenges in school are significant, parents may talk and work closely with the school their children or adolescents attend. If parents are concerned about their child's treatment plan, they may speak with the doctor their child sees to learn more.

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