Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, affects both adults and children with over 6% of the United States population with the diagnosis. Males are more likely to be diagnosed over women. Symptoms of the disorder include distractibility, inability to control impulses, poor listening, forgetfulness and hyperactivity. ADHD can run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition plays a role in ones risk. Exposure to cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs during pregnancy can also play a role in the development of ADHD.
In children, symptoms are usually more easily recognized when schoolwork is not being completed and reports back from teachers prove inability perform in the classroom. For adults, it can be more difficult to recognize the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Adults usually explain away their impulsivity or inability to complete tasks when there can be an underlying cause. ADHD symptoms can become so severe they can impair the ability to plan out daily tasks like grocery shopping, bill paying and other chores.
No matter the severity of symptoms or the age of the individual suffering, the good news is there are a myriad of ways to treat and manage symptoms. The frustrating part of ADHD is finding a treatment that is lasting and does not carry heavy side effects. The following are conservative treatment options to be considered in managing ADHD.
There are several medications that are prescribed to help an individual maintain focus. Medications are great for the short term while underlying causes of ADHD are being investigated. Medications should be used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary as there are side effects including insomnia, headaches and lack of appetite.
While the verdict is still out whether sugar truly influences hyperactivity or not, what is known is the affect of blood sugar spikes and dips on mood, energy and focus. Getting protein rich food sources through the day, starting with breakfast reduces distractibility due to blood sugar instability.
Omega-3 Fatty acids
Omega 3’s are found in fish, nuts and seeds. The human body needs omega 3 fatty acids for the health of brain and help to reduce inflammation. Research has shown low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in children suffering with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Adding super foods like chia seeds and fish to your diet or supplementation may help with symptoms of ADHD.
All B vitamins are important for a variety of functions when is comes to health. Vitamin B6 helps to develop neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain. This helps to improve mood and focus. Vitamin B12 helps to protect the nerve cells from damage in addition to boosting energy and stamina. B vitamins are rich in animal proteins like red meat, fish and eggs.
Magnesium is a mineral that is typically low in the standard American diet. Magnesium is just as important as calcium when it comes to bone health and strength, it helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure and also helps to decrease distractibility and irritably symptoms. Increasing dietary consumption of this important mineral can make a difference in focus and attentiveness in ADHD sufferers. Dark greens like spinach, nuts and seeds and dark chocolate are all sources of magnesium.
Iron helps to carry oxygen in the body. This helps to maintain stamina and energy during the day. Iron also helps to improve focus by maintaining oxygen flow to the brain and body. Studies have shown low iron status to be correlated with fatigue, irritability and inability to focus.
Set a bedtime for the work/school week and stick to it. A full night of restful sleep is essential for brain function the next day. We are all well aware of how sleep depravation can lead to lack of concentration. If you feel that you are suffering from insomnia or disrupted sleep seek medical advice as there are ways to improve quality of sleep. s
Drying out your brain is obviously not a good idea. When your body is dehydrated it affects neurotransmission (brain talk). This leads to sleepiness, focus issues and headaches. Dehydration is the single most easily rectifiable way to improve your focus in the day. Water is the beverage of choice, however, other non-caffeinated beverages like herbal tea do count toward your total intake of water.
ADHD is not only frustrating for the individual suffering, it also affects loved ones. Considering counseling to manage symptoms of ADHD as well as counseling for family members to help find ways to assist in treatment goals and prevent aggravation. With the right tools and nutrition, individuals can expect to be able to manage their symptoms and live a functional and healthy life.