While drug therapies have been shown to be effective in the treatment of ADHD, for some people the side effects prove to be so severe that treatment is suspended. Popular ADHD medications such as Strattera, Adderall and Ritalin all have numerous side effects, the most frequent of which are mood swings, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Of additional concern is the potential for habit formation or abuse with stimulant medications such as Adderall and Ritalin. As such, many parents are turning to drug-free ADHD treatments as a safer alternative for treating their child’s ADHD symptoms.
While the specific cause of ADHD is unknown, many drug treatments like those mentioned above work to adjust the brain’s levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Low levels of these neurotransmitters are associated with common symptoms of ADHD such as impulsivity, lack of focus and disorganization, so these medications seek to increase these neurotransmitter levels. However, drug treatment is not the only way to increase levels of these neurotransmitters. There are many drug-free treatments for ADHD that increase neurotransmitter levels and do so without any side effects.
Many simple lifestyle changes can result in improvement of your child’s symptoms. Children who have ADHD need more sleep than other children. Ensuring that your child has a regular sleep schedule and gets a good night’s rest can reduce the symptoms of ADHD, because during sleep, neurotransmitter levels are replenished and restored. Neurotransmitter levels are also greatly impacted by diet. Children who have ADHD have been shown to have deficiencies of vitamin-B, amino acids, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Altering your child’s diet to include more bananas, potatoes, eggs, dairy, meat and fish can boost these nutrients and help minimize your child’s symptoms as well.
However, the most popular among drug-free ADHD treatments is exercise. Aerobic activities such as running, biking and swimming facilitate the release of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Team sports or taking classes such as ballet or karate are especially helpful for children who have ADHD, as these activities improve neurotransmitter levels while giving your child valuable time for positive social interactions. Even just 30 minutes of exercise a day can result in marked improvement in your child’s symptoms.
A combination of brain training and exercise has been shown to produce even greater positive results for children who have ADHD. Exercises that involve balance, concentration, sensory integration and visual motor control take advantage of the benefits of exercise, while improving brain functioning at the same time. In particular, brain training that works on the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance, spatial orientation and integration of auditory, visual and tactile sensory information, is especially powerful. By improving the functioning of the vestibular system, new neural pathways are created, transmission of neurons is enhanced and cognitive processes such as concentration and attention improve, while distractibility and impulsivity decrease.
For more information about drug-free and alternative treatments for ADHD, visit https://learningbreakthrough.com/specific-challenges/drug-free-add/adhd-alternative-treatment.