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ADHD – Treatment & Strategies
Treatment – Medication
Medication may be considered as part of a treatment plan, in combination with counseling and implementing strategies. You will want to work closely with your physician to find the medication that works best for you. Provided is an overview of discussion points around ADHD medication. If you’d like to delve further, go to LEARN MORE, at the bottom of this page.
Why Consider ADHD Medication?
Research indicates that untreated ADHD is associated with poor academic outcomes, unemployment, financial difficulties, poor social outcomes, and increased mental health issues.
Experts in the field of ADHD agree that medications are the most well-established and widely used treatment for ADHD, and research indicates that individuals with ADHD who are treated with medication have a reduced risk for criminality and serious traffic accidents, as well as substance-use disorders and depression.
When medications are used to treat ADHD, research indicates that improvement in the parent-reported quality of life in children being treated for ADHD, improved academic achievement, increase in pro-social behaviours, and lower rates of comorbid anxiety and depression in young adulthood.
How Do ADHD Medications Help?
The goal of medication treatment is to deal with the symptoms that are preventing you from reaching your potential.
ADHD medications may help you to:
- Concentrate and focus
- Make less impulsive decisions
- Stop and think before acting and speaking
- Get more work done
- Increase the opportunity to build pro-social behaviours necessary for healthy relationships
Studies on Effectiveness of Medication
In Dr. Russell Barkley’s recent book (2010), Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, he notes that medication can improve ADHD in up to 80% of individuals or more. Dr. Barkley said: “We now know that ADHD medication can normalize the behavior of 50-65% of those with ADHD and result in substantial improvements, if not normalization, in ANOTHER 20-30% of people with the disorder.”
Pills Don't Teach Skills
Pills don’t teach skills! Research has repeatedly demonstrated that a combination of medication and behavioral treatment of ADHD provides the highest chances of symptom improvement and general success. Medications can be one part of a treatment plan, in addition to skills training, diet and exercise, behaviour modification plans, counselling, etc.
Trial the Medication
ADHD symptoms have a significant effect on daily life at home, school, work, and in relationships. If that is the case, your doctor may suggest a trial of medication to see if it will help improve symptoms and determine their impact on your world. A trial lets you see how a medication affects you so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is useful or not. This is not a lifelong commitment.
Treatment – Counselling
Support for Mental Health
If you are having a hard time coping with ADHD symptoms and/or if you are struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, then the first step may be to discuss your concerns with your doctor or access Mental Health Services in your region.
If your issues are significant, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or a specialized agency that requires a referral. Note: in most regions there is a long wait list to see psychiatrists.
Otherwise, you can directly access most mental health practitioners, such as a psychologist.
Counselling sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist experienced in both ADHD and mental health challenges can provide support for ADHD and co-related challenges.
A specialist such as a psychologist may use an approach like cognitive behavioural therapy to help you to develop skills to regulate your thought patterns and behavior. Changing your thought patterns from negative to more constructive approaches for dealing with life’s challenges can in turn improve your mood and self-confidence and reduce anxiety. Changing your approach to how you do things can make your life easier and less stressful.
Counselling can also help you to develop positive relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
Strategies to Manage ADHD
How do Strategies Help?
Strategies used consistently will help you to:
-Feel better, both physically & mentally
-Get things done more efficiently
-Keep yourself on-task
-Manage your time better
-and maintain your motivation
Start by establishing healthy daily habits, such as eating well, getting a good night sleep, and exercising regularly.
You might try mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to calm your mind and body. Did you know that meditation has been found to be very helpful for ADHD?
Resource: Check out the book; The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals. By Lidia Zylowska, MD. The book is accompanied by an audio program.
We are fortunate to be living in a time where there is an explosion of information about ADHD, including strategies for adults to manage ADHD Executive Function challenges. But it can all be a bit overwhelming! How do you get started?
Take a step back, evaluate what your needs and goals are, and come up with an ACTION PLAN
Step 1. Self-Evaluation
Start the process off by doing a self-evaluation.
- In what areas of life does ADHD impact you the most?
- In what areas in your life are things working well for you?
- What are your strengths, interests, and preferences?
- What is a current aspect of your day to day life that you might want to improve upon? (executive function skills)
- How are your current strategies, systems, and routines working?
Step 2. Set your Goal
Use the SMART Goals Framework. Make your goals:
Step 3: Identify Resources, Sources of Support, and Strategies
- Resources: Resources section in the website lists ADHD resources. LEARN MORE at the end of this section has helpful articles about resources.
- Sources of Support: You may want to work with a psychologist or ADHD coach to help you to identify measurable goals, develop specific skills and strategies to achieve your goal, get you started, and help you to stay on track. A friend or support group can help you to keep up your motivation. Sources of Support page describes who might help you and how.
- Strategies: After you have done some research and possibly lined up Sources of Support, choose some strategies that might help you to achieve your goal.
Step 4: Put your Plan into Action!
Set your timeline and specifics for how you will achieve measurable objectives and GET STARTED!
Step 5: Monitor Progress & Adapt if Needed
- Have a system in place to track your progress and keep yourself accountable
- Include motivational rewards along the way. Keeping motivated is key for the ADHD brain!
- If you are struggling to meet the objectives, take a step back and ask yourself why. What do you need to change?
LEARN MORE: About Adults with ADHD – Treatment & Strategies to Manage ADHD
Medication and Counselling
The Facts on ADHD Medication
Treatment of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal: Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. Published 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518387/
Understanding ADHD Medications. Article by Roy Boorady, MD, and child and adolescent psychiatrist. Published by Child Mind Institute
How CBT Dismantles ADHD Negativity: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Overview
Goal Setting, Implementing Strategies
Article: Setting Target Goals for Managing ADHD Symptoms. ADD Resource Center July 24, 2012.
Video on You Tube Channel: How to ADHD; ADHD & Motivation. #ADHD #Motivation. by Jessica McCabe
Technology Strategies for ADHD
25 Great Mobile Apps for ADHD Minds. By ADDitude. 2020