Updated: Oct 25, 2022
By Giovanni Pascal Pierre, PMHNP-BC
People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have difficulties with working memory, executive function, and maintaining attention. These symptoms can show up as trouble with day-to-day responsibilities, inconsistent performance at work, relationship problems, or constant feelings of guilt or frustration. Tackling all of these issues alone can be overwhelming and isolating. Thankfully, there are a number of n on-medication treatments for ADHD in adults that include medical, therapeutic, and lifestyle practices that can help manage ADHD in adults.
Every individual experiences ADHD differently. For some people, medications can be incredibly effective and are essential for treating symptoms. But other methods like behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes may also be necessary for the complete treatment of ADHD. Here are some of the best non-medication approaches to tackle ADHD symptoms in adults.
Exercise and spend time outdoors
Studies have consistently shown that even mild physical activity can work wonders for long-term mental health. A non-medication treatment for ADHD might include exercise. ADHD impacts the brain’s levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin — all of which can be elevated with exercise. Exercise also helps boost the attention system and executive functions in the brain. This directly increases focus and attention, easing symptoms like hyperactivity and impulsivity. Spending some "green time" outdoors can also help reduce attention fatigue, stress, and tension in the body.
Implement simple diet changes
Proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids are both crucial for proper nerve cell function in the ADHD brain. They improve brain health, stabilize energy levels, and prevent blood sugar surges that can cause hyperactivity. Foods such as walnuts, leafy greens, flaxseeds, and soy products are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, while lean meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes and beans are great sources of proteins. Fish and seafood are packed with both these nutrients. Some studies suggest that eating foods rich in antioxidants can also help manage ADHD symptoms.
Fix vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Vitamins are another non-medication treatment for ADHD. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B6 are all essential for producing and regulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Other minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium also help increase dopamine levels in the brain. Studies show that people with ADHD are commonly deficient in one or more of these nutrients. While more research is needed to strengthen this link, taking the right supplements can definitely help improve neurological health in adults with ADHD.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
ADHD often makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Without consistent and adequate sleep, people with ADHD often wake up feeling groggy, irritable, or exhausted. This sleep deprivation causes a significant decline in focus and energy, and worsens ADHD symptoms throughout the day. Having a regular sleep-wake schedule and a quiet bedtime routine helps support a healthy circadian rhythm and makes falling asleep easier.
Get personalized behavioral therapy
Behavioral therapy that is specifically designed for ADHD helps individuals learn how to control impulsive behaviors, manage stress and anger, improve organizational skills, and handle time and money more efficiently. Talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and behavioral coaching are all powerful tools that can help manage ADHD symptoms. Behavioral therapies use a proven, systematic approach to help adults with ADHD thrive in their day-to-day lives.
Seeking treatment is all the more important for people who may have ADHD alongside other mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or insomnia. Safe Haven eBehavioral Health offers the complete range of solutions and services needed to effectively manage ADHD in adults.