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What are the most effective non-medication treatments for ADHD?

The non-medication treatments for ADHD with the most data and research behind them are cognitive-behavior therapy, accommodations at school and work, exercise, mindfulness meditation, adequate sleep, omega-3-6-9, and a healthy diet. The goal of each of these treatments is to decrease the intensity and frequency of symptoms and therefore improve the quality of life for children and adults with ADHD.

Are there different complementary treatments for the different presentations of ADHD?

It hasn’t been found that one type of treatment works better for the inattentive, the combined or the hyperactive/impulsive presentations of ADHD. It’s really about whatever works best for you. Studies look at all the different presentations of ADHD.

In order to determine what complementary treatment might work best, it is good to be open and try some things. Everybody works a little bit differently, so something that works for a friend of yours with ADHD may not work for you.

How long does it take before a complementary treatment reduces ADHD symptoms or there is an improvement in behavior?

It really depends on the treatment. One of the best ways to track improvements is by keeping a log and writing down the changes in behavior. What do you notice during the day? Does your child snap less at people? Do they think about things before completing an action? It’s really hard to remember all the changes without writing them down. With a log you can then look for a pattern to see if things are improving or not.

Also, ask the person giving you the treatment, “How long is this treatment supposed to take?”

What are the top recommendations of non-medication treatment for young children?

For young children, definitely exercise has been found effective. It’s important to let kids run around outside and play. Mindfulness, and particularly the teaching of deep breathing, can be really helpful to children under the age of 6.

For kindergarteners, school accommodations can also be quite effective. An accommodation you can ask for is for movement in the classroom to not be counted off as a conduct mark. Meaning that kids are allowed to get out of their seat and out of circle time and not be penalized.


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