Have you ever experienced feeling restlessness, difficulty staying focused or disorganization? If so, you may have ADHD – Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. While this condition is often misunderstood and can cause significant struggles in day-to-day life, there are effective treatment and supplement options available. In this blog post we’ll explore the different approaches to manage ADHD including conventional treatments like medication and some of the natural supplements available which purpose to support cognitive function. So if you’re curious about finding an approach that could work for you – read on as we reveal all the necessary information around these different approaches to help manage your symptoms!
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult for a person to focus, concentrate, and pay attention to things for an extended period regardless of their importance or relevance. ADHD symptoms are categorized into two: inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive. Individuals with ADHD may exhibit some or all of these symptoms. Inattentive symptoms include difficulty in following instructions, losing things, forgetfulness, and being easily distracted. On the other hand, hyperactive-impulsive symptoms include fidgeting, interrupting conversations, excessive talking, restlessness, and impulsivity.
Although it is referred to as adult ADHD, it occurs in both children and adults. It usually begins in early childhood and is detected during a child’s early school years. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children, as 6.4 million of American children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with it. Symptoms usually appear around the ages of 3 and 6 and can continue through their teen years and well into adulthood.
The National Institute of Mental Health noted that there is an increasing number in the diagnosis of ADHD in children and the reason is unclear. According to NIMH, 9 percent of children between ages 13 and 18 in America are affected by ADHD. In fact, research shows about 60 percent of kids who had ADHD still exhibit the symptoms as adults. Also, males are three times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to females. This could occur because boys are usually hyperactive in their early years.
When ADHD is left untreated in adults, it can negatively impact different aspects of their life. Adult ADHD can cause trouble managing time, poor school or work performance, unstable relationship, forgetfulness and low self-esteem, holding down jobs, setting goals and addictions.
ADD vs ADHD
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are both neurodevelopmental disorders that affect a person’s ability to focus, concentrate, and control impulses. The main difference between the two disorders is that ADHD involves hyperactivity, while ADD does not. Hyperactivity is defined as excessive movement, such as fidgeting, tapping, or talking excessively. In contrast, people with ADD are often described as having a “zoning out” behavior, daydreaming, and lethargy that’s usually accompanied by the lack of focus or attention to detail.
Both ADD and ADHD are often diagnosed in childhood, with symptoms that can last well into adulthood. However, it’s also common for adults to receive a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, especially if they were never diagnosed as children. Adults with ADHD typically experience difficulty with organization and time management. On the other hand, Adults with ADD usually experience difficulty with focusing or paying attention to detail.
Symptoms of ADHD
To ensure the diagnosis of ADHD is more consistent, doctors have categorized the conditions into two types of behavioral problems. They are predominantly inattentive ADHD and hyperactivity and impulsivity ADHD.
Some people with ADHD could exhibit some symptoms that fall into both categories or otherwise.
As the name suggests, children that exhibit these symptoms have difficulty focusing. Other signs of inattentiveness include:
Trouble Paying Attention to Details or Making Careless Mistakes
Individuals with ADHD may miss crucial details or overlook important information causing them to make careless mistakes.
Issues Remaining Focused on Tasks and Activities
It’s common for people with inattentive type ADHD to have a hard time staying focused during a task, particularly those that are lengthy or tedious.
Difficulty Listening Well, Daydreaming, or Seeming Distracted
ADHD causes the brain to be overactive leading to an overload of information resulting in mind-wandering, excess daydreaming, and overall feeling distracted.
Trouble with Following Instructions and/or Finishing Tasks
Difficulty with completing tasks or following through can be a common sign of ADHD inattentiveness.
Difficulty with Organizing Tasks and Activities
Individuals with ADHD may struggle to maintain an organized schedule or keep track of their personal belongings.
Avoiding or Disliking Tasks that Require Continuous Mental effort
Many with ADHD inattentiveness struggle with mental fatigue and burnout, which can cause them to avoid activities requiring committed or extensive mental effort.
Losing Things Frequently
Forgetfulness and recurrently losing things – like car keys or cell phones – can be frustrating symptoms of ADHD inattentiveness.
Easily Distracted by Outside Stimuli
ADHD can cause heightened sensitivity to external stimuli, resulting in difficulty sustaining attention.
Forgetful in Daily Activities
Those with ADHD inattentiveness often forget to execute routine tasks or obligations.
Trouble with Self-motivation
Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty with self-motivation, particularly in non-interesting activities that may not hold their attention.
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
When most people hear of the term ADHD, the symptoms they think of is hyperactivity. This specifier means the child exhibits excessively high levels of activity and is restless. The main symptoms to look out for in the hyperactivity and impulsiveness category are:
Fidgeting with or tapping hands or feet or squirming frequently
This is arguably the most noticeable symptom of ADHD (Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation). Children with this type of ADHD have a hard time sitting still, which can create disruption in the classroom. They may also fidget or squirm while trying to remain quiet, e.g., during a movie or church service.
Leaving their seat when remaining seated is expected
In a classroom setting, a teacher may notice that a student with ADHD (Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation) frequently leaves their seat when expected to remain seated. This can be due to their restlessness, a lack of impulse control, or because they feel compelled to be in motion.
Running or climbing when it’s not appropriate
Children with ADHD (Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation) are also prone to take risks, such as running or climbing, even when it’s not safe to do so. For example, they may decide to climb a tree that is too tall or run into the street without looking both ways.
Trouble playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
Another symptom of ADHD (Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation) is difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly. Children with this type of ADHD tend to play loud and boisterous games, seeking stimulation and attention.
Always seeming “on the go” or “driven by a motor”
Children with ADHD (Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation) may seem like they are always on the go and moving fast, as if they were driven by a motor. This behavior can be exhausting for the child and can make it difficult for others to keep up with them.
Talking Too Much
If someone tends to talk excessively, interrupts people during conversations, or has trouble listening without interrupting, it could be a sign of ADHD. Individuals with Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD may have difficulty controlling their speech, and they may find it hard to stay on topic. They can be excited about sharing their thoughts and ideas but may struggle to communicate effectively.
Blurting Out Answers Before Questions Are Completed
Often, people with Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD may have difficulty waiting for their turn to speak. They can be quick to respond or give an answer without hearing the entire question first. This impulsive behavior can be frustrating for others and may lead to misunderstandings.
Frequent Trouble Waiting for Their Turn
Waiting patiently may be challenging for people with Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD. They may experience restlessness and an urge to get up and move around frequently. They may feel compelled to finish a task quickly or jump from one activity to another.
Often Interrupting or Intruding on Others’ Conversations or Games
Individuals with Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD may have difficulty waiting their turn to play games or joining a conversation. They may feel the need to intrude or interrupt others to get attention or express their opinions.
Difficulty Following Directions or Rules
People with Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD may have a tough time following directions or rules. They may make impulsive decisions that go against the rules, leading to conflict or negative consequences. They may struggle with discipline, resulting in a lack of motivation or self-control.
These symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness can lead to them having problems with discipline, social interaction and achievement in school.
ADHD Symptoms in Adults
Symptoms of ADHD sometimes persist from childhood, through teenage years to adulthood, and they interfere with daily functioning. Here is a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:
One of the most common symptoms of ADHD in adults is extreme impatience. This can manifest as a short fuse, a tendency to interrupt others, or an inability to wait in line or sit through a long meeting. While impatience is a natural human tendency, those with ADHD feel it more acutely and may struggle with managing it.
Mood swings are another common symptom of ADHD in adults. These can range from mild to severe and may be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, or other external factors. Dealing with mood swings can be challenging for both the individual with ADHD and those around them.
Multitasking can be a challenge for anyone, but those with ADHD may find it particularly difficult. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm and frustration, and may impact job performance or personal relationships.
Emotional outbursts are sometimes a symptom of ADHD in adults. This can include yelling, throwing things, or other expressions of intense emotion. While these outbursts can be distressing for those around the individual, they are often a result of unmanaged feelings of frustration and overwhelm.
Ineffective Organization Skills
Another symptom of ADHD in adults is ineffective organization skills. This can manifest as a messy living space, disorganized digital files, or difficulty keeping track of appointments. While some individuals may simply be naturally disorganized, those with ADHD often struggle with these challenges more acutely.
Hot Temper and Low Tolerance of Situations:
If you find yourself boiling with anger or frustration over small things or have low tolerance for situations, you may be experiencing ADHD symptoms. It’s essential to recognize these tendencies as they can lead to strained relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. To manage this symptom, you can explore anger management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or talk therapy. You can also use practical ways to diffuse stress, such as taking short walks or practicing mindfulness.
Are you unable to fall or stay asleep? Insomnia can be a symptom of ADHD in adults, and it can affect your overall wellbeing. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, mood swings, poor concentration, and other health issues. To improve your sleep quality, create a relaxing bedtime routine, avoid caffeine and electronics before bedtime, and maintain a healthy sleep environment. If insomnia persists, talk to your doctor about possible medication or therapy options.
Chronic Boredom and Poor Time Management
ADHD symptoms in adults may result in chronic boredom or an inability to manage time effectively. If you find yourself procrastinating frequently or feeling easy to distract, it may be time to learn some time management skills. You can create a to-do list, prioritize tasks, break them into small chunks, or set reminders. You can also explore hobbies or activities that interest you and keep you engaged. This will help improve your focus and reduce boredom.
Chronic Forgetfulness and Lateness
Do you often forget appointments or deadlines or show up late for meetings? These can be signs of ADHD symptoms in adults. To improve your memory and punctuality, start by keeping a planner or using a digital calendar to schedule appointments and deadlines. You can also set alarms or reminders to prompt you of upcoming events or tasks. It is also essential to remove distractions from your environment and take breaks between tasks to rejuvenate your mind.
Anxiety and Addiction/Substance Abuse
If you find yourself turning to alcohol, drugs, or other substances to cope with symptoms of ADHD or experiencing high levels of anxiety, it’s time to seek help. These behaviors can be dangerous and lead to significant health issues, including addiction and mental health disorders. You can seek therapy or counseling to address these symptoms and explore healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, deep breathing, or meditation.
Inability to Deal with Stress
Individuals with ADHD may find it hard to regulate their emotions, which can lead to intense feelings of stress or anxiety. They may have a hard time prioritizing tasks or structuring their daily routine, which can make them feel overwhelmed. Adults with ADHD may also exhibit impulsive behavior, such as spending money without thinking about the consequences, drinking excessively, or overeating. These coping mechanisms may provide temporary relief, but they can lead to more problems in the long run.
ADHD can have a significant impact on one’s personal relationships. Adults with ADHD may struggle with organization and communication, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. They may be forgetful or feeling distractions easily, causing them to miss important commitments or obligations. Additionally, they may have a hard time following social cues or understanding others’ perspectives, which can make them seem insensitive or selfish. This can lead to issues with friends, family, and romantic partners.
Challenges at Work
Individuals with ADHD may find it difficult to perform their job duties effectively. They may struggle with time management, procrastination, or forgetfulness. They may also find it hard to concentrate on tasks for prolonged periods, which can affect their productivity. In addition, they may overlook important details or make careless mistakes, which can lead to poor job performance and criticism from bosses and colleagues.
College students or adults returning to school may also face difficulties related to ADHD. They may have a hard time concentrating during lectures, reading assignments, or studying for exams. Additionally, they may struggle with time management, leading to missed deadlines or poor grades. These challenges can be frustrating and demotivating, leading individuals to give up on their academic pursuits.
Causes of ADHD
Despite how common ADHD is, the exact cause of it is not yet clear to researchers. However, it is a belief that a combination of factors is responsible. They include:
Research shows that genetics play a major role in the development of ADHD. If one or both parents have ADHD, their children are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Several genes have been linked to ADHD, but it is still unclear exactly how they contribute to the disorder.
Environmental toxins may contribute to the development of ADHD. These toxins include lead, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can disrupt the nervous system and affect brain development. Exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy has also links to ADHD.
ADHD has links to differences in brain structure and function. People with ADHD have been found to have smaller frontal lobes, which are responsible for decision-making, and a thinner prefrontal cortex, which helps with impulse control.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow communication between nerve cells in the brain. Studies show that people with ADHD have imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine and norepinephrine, which regulate attention and behavior.
Smoking is a common habit that many people engage in for a variety of different reasons. However, smoking has been a contributing factor to the development of ADHD. According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have children with ADHD. This is because nicotine has a harmful effect on the developing brain, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain with ADHD.
Substance abuse is another hidden cause of ADHD. Studies show that people who abuse substances, such as alcohol and drugs, are more likely to have symptoms of ADHD than those who do not use these substances. This is because substances like alcohol and cocaine have a profound effect on the brain’s dopamine levels, which play a crucial role in ADHD symptoms.
Research has shown that complications during pregnancy or birth may increase the risk of ADHD. These complications include premature birth, low-birth-weight, and fetal distress during labor. These factors may lead to brain injury or damage that can affect the development of attention and behavior.
How ADHD is Diagnosed
ADHD diagnosis is made by a healthcare provider, usually a psychiatrist, pediatrician, psychologist, or neurologist. The diagnosis process generally involves a thorough evaluation of the individual’s medical history, symptoms, and behavior patterns. The healthcare provider may also interview family members, teachers, or other caregivers to understand the person’s behavior in different settings.
The process may also include neuropsychological tests and rating scales that measure various aspects of the person’s cognitive and behavioral functioning. These help the healthcare provider make an accurate diagnosis and determine the severity of the disorder.
There isn’t a simple test that can diagnose ADHD in you or your child. It would involve a detailed diagnostic evaluation carried out using the official ADHD diagnostic guide used in the United States, called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Diagnosis would also involve physical examinations, a series of interviews, information gathering from personal and family medical history and reports from significant people like family, teachers, caregivers and partners.
Diagnosis in Children and Teenagers
To qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD, your child will have to satisfy a set of strict criteria. They include:
- They must exhibit six or more of the symptoms of inattentiveness or symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness
- The symptoms must have continuously disrupted their everyday life for at least six months
- They must have been displaying symptoms before the age of 12
- Symptoms must be present in at least two different settings
- Should be interfering with daily academic or social life
- Symptoms aren’t as a result of a developmental phase or another mental disorder
Diagnosis in Adults
It is more difficult to diagnose ADHD in adults because experts disagree on whether the symptoms used for diagnosis in children also apply to adults. In general, a diagnosis will rely on:
- Exhibiting 5 or more of the symptoms of inattentiveness or symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness itemized in the diagnostic criteria of childhood ADHD
- Presence of ADHD Symptoms from childhood
- Symptoms of ADHD interfering with their work, education, social life or relationship
Treatment Options for ADHD
The most common treatment options for ADHD includes:
Your doctor can prescribe medications that’d affect your brain chemicals to enable you to have better control of your actions and impulses. It is the most common treatment for ADHD, and they group into stimulants and non-stimulants.
Medication is a crucial option for those with moderate to severe ADHD symptoms. ADHD medication works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which helps to restore balance and improve focus. Stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin are often the first choice for treating ADHD, and there are also non-stimulant medication options available like Strattera. However, medication can come with side effects, including appetite suppression, sleeplessness, and mood changes. Patients need to work with their healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage for them.
This type of treatment is directed toward changing behavior. It also comes with the plus of treating additional problems that might appear with ADHD such as anxiety. Some of the therapies used include:
Behavioral therapy is another effective treatment option that can help manage ADHD symptoms. This therapy aims to teach specific skills and strategies to help sufferers manage their behaviors and emotions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular and evidence-based therapy that involves learning to identify negative thoughts and behaviors, develop coping skills, and improve problem-solving techniques. Other cognitive interventions like mindfulness and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can also be useful in managing symptoms.
Parent Coaching and Educational Programs
Therapists can provide specifically tailored training and educational programs that aim at teaching parents how to respond to often-difficult behaviors that can accompany ADHD.
This involves working with a counselor or therapists that’d enable them to better understand their ADHD and learn better ways of handling emotions and frustrations. They get an avenue to address issues resulting from living with ADHD, such as relationship issues, low self-esteem and shame.
ADHD coaching is a form of supportive coaching that specifically caters to people with ADHD. The goal of ADHD coaching is to help individuals develop practical and effective strategies to navigate their day-to-day lives better. ADHD coaching focuses on helping individuals improve their organizational skills, manage time better, and develop better strategies to handle challenging situations. ADHD coaching is an excellent option for individuals who need help developing specific coping strategies that can improve their daily lives.
Interpersonal therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on helping people build better social skills, improve their relationships, and develop better communication skills. It is an excellent option for individuals who struggle with social anxiety, have difficulty connecting with others, or struggle to maintain close relationships. Working with a therapist who specializes in interpersonal therapy can help individuals develop better communication skills, feel more confident around others and build stronger connections.
Narrative therapy is an approach to therapy that focuses on helping individuals develop a better sense of self and gain a better understanding of their experiences. It is an excellent choice for individuals who struggle with negative self-talk, have difficulty regulating their emotions or have experienced trauma in their lives. By working with a therapist who specializes in narrative therapy, individuals can learn how to reframe their experiences and develop a stronger sense of self. Narrative therapy can be an incredibly empowering experience for individuals, helping them build confidence, and develop a better sense of control over their lives.
Group therapy is a form of therapy that brings together a group of individuals who share similar struggles and provides them with a supportive environment to discuss those experiences. It is an excellent option for individuals who struggle with isolation, feel alone in their struggles, or want to develop better social skills. Group therapy can help individuals develop a sense of community and feel less alone in their struggles. In group therapy, individuals can learn coping skills from peers, share their experiences, and develop a sense of belonging.
Lifestyle changes can significantly improve symptoms. Exercise and physical activity can help to boost focus and alleviate anxiety symptoms in individuals. Getting enough sleep and having a regular sleep routines has been shown to improve symptoms in kids and adults. A balanced diet that is low in added sugars can also improve symptoms by maintaining stable energy levels. Additionally, setting clear goals and following a structured routine can reduce stress and help with time management – two areas that individuals often struggle with.
Alternative treatments are another option for managing symptoms. There is evidence that omega-3 supplements can be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms in adults and children. Mind-body relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and acupuncture may also improve symptoms by reducing stress and increasing focus. Additionally, neurofeedback therapy, which involves training the brain to self-regulate and increase focus on specific tasks, may help manage symptoms.
Can ADHD be Cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for ADHD, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. The most common treatments for ADHD are medication, behavioral interventions, and therapy. While these treatments may not make the disorder go away completely, they are effective in managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life.
Are ADHD and Autism Linked?
At its core, ADHD is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to concentrate, focus and control impulses. Autism, on the other hand, is a spectrum disorder that can affect communication, social interaction, and behavior. Although they are two different conditions, they share some common symptoms such as difficulty with communication and social interaction. It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both ADHD and Autism, and many experts believe that there is an overlap in the symptoms of both conditions.
One of the similarities between ADHD and Autism is that they are both by a genetic predisposition. There is a lot of ongoing research about the causes of ADHD and autism, and while both conditions are believed to have a genetic component, other factors like environment and external factors do play a role. Research has shown that ADHD and autism are both caused by changes in specific genes that affect the development of the brain.
Can ADHD Get Worse with Age?
For some individuals, ADHD symptoms may improve with age, while for others, symptoms may become more challenging. Due to changes in the brain’s structure and function, the development of coping strategies, and other environmental factors, ADHD symptoms can shift over time. Commonly, people with ADHD may experience a decline in working memory, processing speed, and attention to detail as they grow older. Stressful situations like major life changes can also exacerbate ADHD symptoms.
Supplements for ADHD
People with ADHD are usually deficient in some essential nutrients when compared to their peers, and zinc is one of them. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in brain function. Deficiency in zinc results in symptoms similar to those of ADHD, such as delayed cognitive development and inattentiveness. Research has shown that the dietary supplementation of zinc can help improve the symptoms.
Supplementation with omega-3 can help improve cognitive function in adults and children, as it aids the protection of brain tissue and enhances brain cell communications. A 2017 review of 16 randomized controlled trials showed that participants who were placed on essential fatty acids (EFAs) supplements showed improvement in ADHD symptoms.
Iron plays a key role in brain function, and studies have shown that people with ADHD often have lower levels of iron in their bodies. If you’re deficient in iron, supplementing with iron can help reduce symptoms by improving cognitive function, mood, and focus. However, you should be careful not to take too much iron, as it can be toxic in high doses.
Vitamin B12 is important for brain function and can help reduce symptoms. Studies have shown that people with ADHD often have lower levels of vitamin B12 in their bodies. Supplementing with vitamin B12 can improve cognitive function, memory, and mood. Look for a high-quality vitamin B12 supplement that contains at least 1000mcg of vitamin B12 per dose.
Ginkgo biloba has been used for years for improving memory, brain functions and increasing mental alertness. It contains chemicals called terpenetrilactines that increases the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. A 2013 study reported that after a daily dose of 240 mg of Gingko biloba for a period of three to five weeks, the subjects showed improvement in symptoms.
ADHD symptoms also include sleep problems and disorders. Also, sleep problems could arise as a side effect of the prescribed stimulant medications for treating it. Supplementing with melatonin may help regulate the sleep-wake cycle of those with ADHD. A 2019 study spanning for over four weeks showed 60.8 percent of the 74 participants taking the stimulant methylphenidate had a better quality of sleep after doses of melatonin.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is found in tea leaves. It shows to improve cognitive function, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve sleep quality. Studies have also shown that L-Theanine can help reduce symptoms by improving focus and attention. Look for a high-quality L-Theanine supplement that contains at least 100mg per dose.
The Bottom Line
Managing ADHD symptoms requires a comprehensive approach that includes medication, behavioral therapy, dietary changes, exercise, and alternative therapies. While medication is usually the first line of treatment, behavioral therapy and dietary changes can also be very effective in managing symptoms. Exercise and alternative therapies can also provide additional benefits. If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, it is important to work with a qualified healthcare professional to develop a personalized treatment plan that works best for your needs. With proper management, individuals can lead fulfilling and successful lives.
If you’re struggling with ADHD, supplementing with the right nutrients can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. The five supplements we’ve outlined here – omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and L-Theanine – are all great options for enhancing brain function and reducing symptoms. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplement regimen to ensure that it’s safe and effective for you. With the right combination of supplements and lifestyle changes, you can supercharge your brain and achieve your goals.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease