ADHD treatment without medication

Get the right diagnosis

There’s no blood test or brain scan that can diagnose ADHD, so the first step in getting help is to make sure your doctor knows you have concerns. Start by bringing up your symptoms at an appointment and asking if your provider can refer you to a specialist who will spend time with you to figure out whether ADHD or some other condition may be involved. The assessment process, which includes taking a detailed history and giving psychological tests, may take several hours over a few visits. If ADHD is suspected, the doctor should also ask you about any other problems that are often found in people with ADHD (like anxiety and learning disabilities).

Most adults with ADHD respond well to treatment. “The key is finding the right combination of medication, therapy and self-help strategies that works for each individual,” says psychiatrist William Dodson, MD. “What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.”

Keep distractions to a minimum.

One of the biggest challenges people with ADHD face is having too many distractions. It’s not that they can’t focus; it’s that they have too much to focus on! Even when you know exactly what you need to do, it may be difficult to stay on track. The following tips can help:

  • Make a list of tasks you want or need to accomplish, then prioritize them by importance.
  • Focus on the task at hand without being sidetracked by other obligations or thoughts. If something is bothering you, write it down and tell yourself you’ll address it later — but only if it’s important.
  • When possible, create a distraction-free zone where you can concentrate during your most productive hours.
  • Don’t multitask — working on multiple projects at once only increases the likelihood that nothing gets done well (or even partially completed).
  • Don’t let distractions get in the way of doing what needs to be done. Close unnecessary browser tabs and turn off your phone while working on a project or task with strict deadlines.

Exercise regularly.

Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress reliever and has the added benefit of improving your sleep, which can be disrupted by ADHD.

Exercising doesn’t have to mean training for a marathon. It could be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away at the grocery store so that you walk a bit more each time you go.

Limit screen time.

  • Limit screen time.
  • Don’t use screens before bedtime.
  • Don’t let children use screens before the age of 2.
  • Don’t use screens while driving.
  • Don’t let children use screens while driving.

Get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do to treat ADHD. Sleep is a time for your body to heal and repair itself, so if you’re not getting enough sleep, your ability to focus, learn new things, and control your behavior will be greatly impaired. For children aged 5-12, it is recommended that they get 9-12 hours of sleep per night. For adults, it’s recommended that they get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If this seems like an impossible task for you or your child, try improving your sleep cycles by:

  • Creating a bedtime routine and sticking to it (same time each night)
  • Avoiding naps during the day
  • Exercising during the day but not too close to bedtime
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evening

There are some steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD without medication.

There are some steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD without medication.

  • Avoiding artificial additives. Some people with ADHD may be sensitive to artificial food additives, especially ones like food coloring. Before making any major dietary changes, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you’re worried about how these changes will affect your health and nutrition.
  • Getting enough sleep. For some people with ADHD, getting enough good-quality sleep is an important part of managing their symptoms without medication. While most adults need from 7–9 hours of sleep each night, research has shown that people with ADHD may be more likely to have trouble sleeping well than other adults do.
  • Eating well and exercising regularly. The foods you eat may affect the way you feel — not just physically but mentally as well. That’s why it’s important to eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that provide your body with the nutrients it needs for good physical and mental health — not only if you want to avoid or treat ADHD naturally but also if you want overall good health.* Exercising regularly is another key component of treating ADHD naturally because exercise can help improve your mood, boost your energy levels, and improve your focus.”

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