ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This disorder is predominantly diagnosed in children and adolescents, but it can also be found in adulthood.
ADHD is a challenging life-long condition, which has implications in each facet of the sufferer’s life, whether it is in social settings, at school, or in the workplace.
Is ADHD Curable Without Medication?
The first thing to take note of here is that ADHD is not entirely curable. In fact, it is something that will persist throughout adulthood. However, all hope is not lost because several methods can be used to make ADHD more manageable and lessen its effects on everyday life.
The primary methods for the treatment of ADHD are pharmacological interventions and therapeutic interventions. Methylphenidate is the most common medication used for ADHD treatment and works by increasing activity in the brain in the areas that control behavior and attention.
However, ADHD treatment without medication is possible.
ADHD Treatment Without Medication
The most common therapy used in the management of ADHD is CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is a type of therapy focused on the relationship between behaviors, emotions, and thoughts and uses this interplay to improve patients’ lives.
In the context of ADHD management, CBT is used in a collaborative manner between the therapist and the patient. CBT is administered in such a way that the patient almost “helps themselves” with the direction of the therapist. This type of therapy is done to develop better time management, focus, and efficiency in ADHD sufferers.
Online therapy is another comfortable method to receive treatment, where the therapist and patient can work together to find the best ways to engage in therapy; either audio/video sessions or daily messaging are options. Online therapy is more accessible to more people and allows those uncomfortable with traditional therapy to have an alternative means of getting help.
Online counseling can also extend to texting or audiovisual therapy, which is more accessible.
Below, we will delve into some of the methods that an individual can use on their own to manage ADHD.
The practice of mindfulness has been preliminarily shown to be helpful in the reduction of symptoms of ADHD, as well as reducing the negative effects of ADHD to the people surrounding patients (such as family members and friends).
Mindfulness is a technique that is used to encourage an individual to bring their attention to the present moment, free from distraction. Mindfulness pursuits include breathing exercises, meditation, and purposeful attention while doing an activity, such as walking.
Get enough sleep
People with ADHD may have a higher incidence of sleep difficulties, such as insomnia, difficulty waking up in the mornings, and delayed sleep phase syndrome. A lack of sleep can considerably influence many different areas of an individual’s life. In fact, a lack of sleep can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD, making inattentiveness, procrastination, and impulsivity worse.
Not only is getting enough sleep important, but the sleep you get needs to be of good quality. This means practicing good sleep hygiene such as a consistent time for sleeping and waking, ensuring that your bedroom is quiet and at a comfortable temperature, removing electronic devices, exercising to facilitate better sleep, and avoiding large meals before sleeping.
Getting adequate nutrition and quality sleep go hand-in-hand. As previously mentioned, ADHD can cause a higher propensity for sleep disorders. As a result, ADHD sufferers might consume large amounts of caffeine to cope with sleep deprivation. However, excessive caffeine consumption can worsen the symptoms of ADHD, making inattentiveness and distractibility worse.
In addition, the distractibility symptom of ADHD means that many ADHD sufferers often forget meals, forget to adequately hydrate, and then compensate for this by filling up on unhealthy foods.
Keeping a food diary can help this, which can be done using an app on your smartphone. This will allow you to pinpoint your eating habits and see where you can make improvements. Generally, reducing both carbohydrate and sugar intake and increasing protein intake is a good place to start.
A pertinent symptom of ADHD is distractibility and poor ability to plan. However, the results of these symptoms can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious. Specifically, ADHD affects executive functioning, which causes difficulty with time management, organizing tasks, prioritization, and following through with tasks.
In order to reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious as a result of distractibility, we need to create stability and structure, which can be applied at school, at home, or in the workplace. Two extremely helpful ways of creating structure are task lists and calendars, which facilitate planning.
Through planning your day and subsequently managing your time, feelings of being overwhelmed by tasks and feeling anxious can be significantly reduced and help people with ADHD feel better.
Get an activity partner
Getting an activity partner basically means that there is a person that completes activities with you. This could be in the workplace or at home. Completing chores with someone not only increases productivity but also creates a sense of accountability, which will undoubtedly increase the probability of follow-through on the task.
It is not always realistic to have a partner for every activity you complete. For example, this may not be applicable in a school setting. However, it can be greatly helpful in environments where this kind of arrangement is allowed.
Improve brain function
BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is an important protein in the brain that facilitates executive tasks such as focus and attention. In addition to this, BDNF also aids in regulating mood.
Increasing levels of BDNF can ease the symptoms of ADHD. A good way to do this is through exercise, particularly exercise that is intense. Whether a link exists between easing ADHD and increased BDNF levels remains to be seen; however, engaging in activities that improve brain function (such as exercise) has other benefits, such as improving your mood, which is outside the scope of dealing with ADHD.
The Bottom Line
ADHD is a condition that is both debilitating and challenging to overcome, but it is not impossible. It is possible to live day-to-day life happily while having ADHD.
So, is ADHD curable without medication? The short answer is no because ADHD cannot be cured. However, ADHD can be managed without medication through using strategies such as therapy, mindfulness practices, sleep hygiene, nutrition, structure creation, and other methods of accountability.
Therapy is the main method to manage life with ADHD. CBT, along with behavioral therapy, is extremely helpful in helping people with ADHD feel better. Online therapy is also an option and offers a more comfortable setting than traditional therapy.
ADHD treatment without medication is possible. If you are seeking online therapy, contact us. We are here to help.