There is no cure for ADHD. But, there are many safe and effective treatments and methods available that can help manage symptoms, making everyday life a little easier. Not all options work for everyone, so it’s about finding the one that’s right for you. Sometimes it might be that you need to work with a combination of options to find the best solution for you. Here are 9 methods to help effectively manage your adult ADHD and start living your best life.
When deciding on treatment options, it’s always important to discuss these with your doctor for their professional advice.
When you think of treatment options, your first thoughts will probably be medication. For someone with ADHD, medication can be life-changing. However, it’s important to understand that like any medication, there are side effects that come with this treatment. And medication doesn’t always eliminate all of your symptoms either.
There are two main types of ADHD medication: stimulant and non-stimulant.
These are the most commonly prescribed class of medication for ADHD. They work by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine chemicals in your brain. The aim is to increase our focus and concentration.
This type of medication is typically used when stimulants haven’t worked, or because they have caused unmanageable side effects. Non-stimulant medications work by increasing our levels of norepinephrine which is thought to help with attention and memory.
As with any medications, they can cause unpleasant side effects including headaches, trouble sleeping and nervousness, to name just a few.
Support Groups/Group Therapy
Support groups and group therapy are used to connect with others going through a similar situation. It’s a chance to talk through your experiences and concerns. Sometimes just meeting with others and knowing that you’re not alone can be a huge relief. But they are also a great opportunity to express your feelings and learn about helpful support and resources available.
The downside to group sessions is that they can be difficult for people who have social fears of speaking and sharing with a group of people. Depending on the size of the group, there can sometimes be little interaction with the group leader/therapist. Meaning it can take a long time before you see results from this form of therapy, if any.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of talking therapy that looks at ways to manage and change your behaviour. The aim of CBT is to focus on your current problems, rather than recollecting issues from your past.
In CBT, the therapist tends to take an “expert” stance which can lead clients sometimes feeling misunderstood or unable to make the changes recommended.
It is thought that CBT treatment can be completed in a shorter period than most talking therapies. However, it’s not suited for people with learning difficulties or with complex mental health needs.
Psychotherapy is another talking therapy where you meet with a psychotherapist to express your feelings and gain a deeper insight into the challenges you’re facing. The aim of these sessions is to find out what is causing the problem and find a better way of coping. It’s a way of gaining a better understanding about yourself and improve skills for coping with daily life.
This method, however, typically takes a lot longer to see noticeable results and can cause anxiety and uncomfortable feelings bringing up things from their past. It’s also so important to find the right therapist to feel completely comfortable with and trusting them enough to open up.
Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
This approach works along similar lines to psychotherapy but focuses on finding and building solutions. It still acknowledges past problems and causes but is aimed at exploring your current situation and your future goals. Unlike most forms of psychotherapy and CBT, the therapist doesn’t take the role of “expert”, instead understanding that the client is the expert in themselves.
SFBT can typically see results much quicker than other methods, such as psychotherapy. However, this quicker approach can sometimes result in missing the underlying issue. You may find a solution to a secondary issue rather than the main underlying cause for seeking support.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy
This is a modern technique using similar methods to SFBT, with a combination of hypnosis. This is an approach I use myself.
The aim is to provide an effective and lasting change using a combination of SFBT and hypnosis. Where SFBT focuses on quick change, hypnosis works with the unconscious mind, embedding the changes more deeply, and acting on the underlying issues. This way of working can be very empowering and tends to have immediate and positive effects on wellbeing.
However, some people may have religious beliefs which do not allow them to have hypnosis, and in that case another of the talking therapies above may be more suitable.
Exercising regularly is so important for our physical wellbeing. But it is also an effective and easy way to help reduce symptoms associated with ADHD. When we exercise, our brains boost our levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels. These help with our focus and attention.
Exercising, in general, can help improve our mood, memory and motivation, whilst reducing things like stress and anxiety. Even going for a walk around the block can help.
Practising methods such as yoga, pilates or tai chi can be highly effective. All of these approaches give similar effects to meditation but are a good alternative if you find it difficult to sit and meditate. They also all incorporate deep breathing techniques to help you feel centred and mentally aware.
Many ADHDers have trouble getting to sleep at night. With racing thoughts and bounds of energy, it can be hard to relax and drift off. On the other extreme, sometimes with a low mood, it can be a struggle getting up each morning, leaving you feeling groggy and irritated.
Sleep is so important for our general wellbeing, but can also help with stress, anxiety and overwhelm. If you’re having problems getting to sleep, give some of these tips a try:
- Avoid having caffeine in the evenings
- Try to turn off screens and have some quiet time at least an hour before bed
- Have a set bedtime and stick to it – create a routine for your body
- Make sure your bedroom is dark
- Side effect from your medication? Chat to your doctor to see whether you can reduce the dosage or maybe take at a different time of the day
- Try my Calmness and Clarity relaxation audio here. This is designed to help you relax and drift off for a good night’s sleep
There are a number of different types of relaxation techniques available. All of these are designed to help you relax, increase your attention and focus, whilst reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Here are a couple of great examples to try.
Deep breathing is an easy and highly effective way of letting go of any anxiety and stress we’re holding onto, allowing us to relax. The rhythmic pace of our breath can help balance us, allowing our breath to slow down and allow more oxygen to enter our brains.
It’s a method that can be done anywhere, at any time. If you want to learn some highly effective deep breathing techniques, why not join my FREE 5 day challenge where I share some deep breathing and relaxation methods.
Meditation is really good for strengthening the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of your brain that helps with focus, planning and controls impulsiveness. Meditation can also help increase levels of dopamine. It’s a free and simple method that can be done from just about anywhere. For more information about meditation and how it can help with symptoms of ADHD, read my blog ‘Can Meditation Help ADHD?’ here.