5 lifestyle changes to make ADHD medication work better

Medication is not a miracle cure for ADHD, but some lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms.
Medication is not a miracle cure for ADHD, but some lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms.

Research has shown that even though there are people who are hesitant to take the medication route, medicinal treatment for ADHD can be effective.

Medication can help reduce symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity, impulsivity and a lack of attention and concentration in children and adults. However, it’s important to realise that medication comes with side-effects and that it may be a case of trial and error to find the right dose and combination.

Ritalin, the trade name of the stimulant methylphenidate is the most commonly described medication for ADHD. Different doses and formulations can be created for every individual case and are prescribed after a thorough evaluation by a psychiatrist.

But there is no “magic pill” for ADHD, and experts suggest a combined approach – behavioural therapy, lifestyle changes and medication used together to help alleviate symptoms. There might be side-effects such as a change in appetite and sleep patterns.

Here are some lifestyle changes that could increase the effectiveness of medication:

1. Practise patience and be informed

Know that medication alters the chemical reactions in the brain, and that the effects will be different in every case. When, after a few months, the medication appears not to be working, talk to your psychiatrist or doctor.

2. Exercise regularly

According to research, exercise as been proven to help manage ADHD. Not only will it help someone with ADHD establish a healthy routine, but it may also increase dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the brain, which may aid focus and concentration.

3. Get enough sleep

Regular sleep and quality rest may help improve ADHD symptoms. If your child has ADHD, establish a set bedtime routine and allow them to wind down before they go to bed.

4. Invest in therapy

Along with medication, behavioural therapy can be helpful. A registered therapist specialising in ADHD may help you and your child learn new skills to cope with symptoms and change habits that cause problems. Both you and your child may also benefit from stress management techniques or techniques to help control anger and impulsive behaviour.

5. Eat a healthy diet

According to Harvard Medical School, diet isn’t the driving force behind aggravated ADHD symptoms, and traditional research hasn't found that radical diets have any benefits. However, healthy diet choices may be helpful in the long run, as healthy foods may aid basic cell function, heart health and immunity. There is limited data on the link between ADHD and diet, but foods that are good for the brain and body will probably be good for ADHD as well.

Image credit: iStock

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