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How to Handle ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a common psychological disorder characterized by difficulty concentrating, trouble controlling impulsive behavior, and over activeness. This condition currently affects 11% of school-aged kids with the average age of diagnosis being 7 years old. Although this condition is typically associated with childhood and adolescence, 4% of American adults have ADHD as well.  Medications such as Adderall and Vyvanse are often prescribed to help manage symptoms. While these pharmacological agents have proven to be a successful means of treatment, they also produce undesirable side effects such as decreased appetite, weight loss, insomnia, irritability, and headache.

 Instead of treating yourself or your children with medication, try using these alternative methods to manage symptoms of ADHD.

  • Behavior Therapy:  This kind of therapy focuses on controlling actions rather than emotions. Behavior therapy aims to strengthen positive behaviors with rewards and eliminate unwanted behaviors by using appropriate consequences. Treatment involves the child working with a therapist as well as parents receiving training to help learn how to guide their child at home.
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! Studies have shown that children who exercise regularly display enhanced brain function and cognitive performance. Increased levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin resulting from physical activity improve the brain’s ability to focus and pay attention. It doesn’t take much to see the cognitive benefits of exercise either. Enrolling your child in a sports program or simply being active for 30 minutes each day could give them a daily dose of their body’s natural medicine.
  • Diet: Neuroscientist Richard Wurtman Ph.D has found that carbohydrates stimulate neurotransmitters related to drowsiness while protein stimulates those associated with mental alertness. Protein also has the ability to prevent blood sugar from spiking which plays a role in hyperactivity. From now on instead of feeding your child sugar cereals for breakfast, try starting the day off with eggs, meat, and a glass of soy milk before school and see how it affects their academic performance.

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