How to Cure ADHD: My Perspective Perspective (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)
Updated: May 17
ADHD is a multifaceted diagnosis that is best treated from a holistic perspective.
Holistic interventions include: mindfullness, nutritional support, exercise, therapy, and supplements.
I recommend working with a holistic psychiatric provider who is comfortable using more than medication to effectively treat and manage ADHD.
As a holistic psychiatric nurse practitioner, I have seen many individuals struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects both children and adults, making it difficult for them to focus, organize, and complete tasks. You may remember from other posts, that I don’t like the word disorder here – instead I use the word divergent.
So, I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but there is no known cure for ADHD.
There are various treatment options that can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life, but no magic, one-time lifelong solution in the form of a cure.
That being said, in this blog post I will share some holistic approaches that I have found to be effective in treating ADHD. Also, I hope to impress upon you that ADHD doesn’t have to be considered inherently bad - ADHD minds are creative and vibrant!
Before diving into the treatment options, it is essential to understand the symptoms and causes of ADHD. ADHD is a complex disorder – err divergence – with multiple factors contributing to its development. The symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. These symptoms can lead to poor academic performance, social difficulties, and relationship problems.
The causes of ADHD are not entirely understood, but research suggests that genetics and environmental factors play a role. Children who have a family history of ADHD are more likely to develop ADHD. Additionally, exposure to toxins, such as lead, during pregnancy or early childhood, may increase the risk of ADHD.
Holistic Approaches to Treating (but not curing) ADHD in no particular order:
Wait, before I start, I want to mention that I don’t explore medications for ADHD in this article. That’s not to say medications are bad! I think medications can be incredibly helpful for ADHD. That being said, this post is about non-medication approaches for ADHD. If you’re curious about medications for ADHD, check out some of my other posts. Or, if you’re in the Washington, DC area, book at free 15 minute appointment to discuss ADHD medications and any of the holistic interventions for ADHD below!
Mindfulness Meditation for ADHD
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It is a powerful tool that can help individuals with ADHD improve focus, reduce anxiety, and regulate emotions. Mindfulness meditation has been found to be beneficial in improving executive functioning, which is essential for individuals with ADHD. One of the challenges that individuals with ADHD face is an inability to regulate their attention.
They often have a hard time filtering out distractions and maintaining focus on a task.
Mindfulness meditation can help individuals with ADHD learn to regulate their attention by training their brain to focus on the present moment. By doing so, they can improve their ability to stay focused on a task and reduce impulsivity.
Another benefit of mindfulness meditation for individuals with ADHD is its ability to reduce anxiety. Anxiety is a common co-occurring condition with ADHD, and it can make it challenging for individuals to manage their symptoms effectively. Mindfulness meditation can help individuals with ADHD develop a more positive and accepting attitude towards their thoughts and emotions, which can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Practicing mindfulness meditation can also help individuals with ADHD regulate their emotions. Emotion regulation is an essential skill that can help individuals with ADHD manage their impulsivity and improve their social interactions. Mindfulness meditation can help individuals with ADHD develop a better understanding of their emotions, which can help them respond more effectively to stressful situations.
Nutritional Support for ADHD
I dig deeper into the relationship between nutrition and ADHD in another article, but here is a quick summary.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing ADHD symptoms. Certain foods, such as sugar and processed foods, can exacerbate symptoms, while other foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids and protein, can help improve focus and attention. As a holistic psychiatric nurse practitioner, I help develop a customized nutritional plans to support optimal brain function.
Exercise for ADHD
I talk a lot, I mean a lot, about exercise. Not just for ADHD but for mental health in general. I view exercise as a pillar or staple of whole health. Exercise is an essential tool that can help individuals with ADHD manage their symptoms. Exercise has been shown to improve mood, increase focus and attention, and reduce impulsivity. It is a natural way to release pent-up energy and tension, which can help reduce hyperactivity.
I work with individuals with ADHD to develop an exercise plan that is tailored to their needs and abilities. The type of exercise recommended will depend on the individual's preferences and physical abilities. Some individuals may prefer high-intensity activities such as running or cycling, while others may prefer more low-impact activities such as walk or swimming. I typically also recommend some level of weight lifting.
One of the benefits of exercise for individuals with ADHD is its ability to increase the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating mood and attention. Dopamine is often dysregulated in individuals with ADHD, which can contribute to symptoms such as low motivation and difficulty concentrating. Exercise can help increase dopamine levels, which can improve mood and focus.
Another benefit of exercise for individuals with ADHD is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Regular exercise can help individuals with ADHD develop better coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety, which can help reduce symptoms such as impulsivity and distractibility.
In addition to its benefits for mood and attention, exercise can also improve overall physical health. It can help reduce the risk of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, which can have negative impacts on brain function.
Therapy for ADHD
Therapy is an essential component of managing ADHD symptoms. Let me repeat: therapy is an indispensable component of ADHD treatment. In my opinion, therapy may be the most important part.
I help individuals with ADHD to develop a therapy plan based on their symptoms, environment, and lifestyle. There are several different types of therapy that may be beneficial for individuals with ADHD.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help individuals develop psychological flexibility by accepting difficult thoughts and emotions while committing to taking action towards their values and goals. ACT is the modality of therapy I use with patients.
For individuals with ADHD, ACT can help them learn to accept and manage the challenging symptoms that come with the disorder, such as impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity, while also identifying and committing to actions that align with their values and goals. This can help individuals with ADHD to develop a more positive and fulfilling relationship with their symptoms, reducing their negative impact on daily functioning.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another type of therapy that can be beneficial for individuals with ADHD. DBT focuses on developing mindfulness and emotion regulation skills. It can help individuals with ADHD develop greater awareness of their emotions and learn strategies for managing them in a healthy and effective way. While I do not use DBT, there is plenty of data to support its use.
Ok, this one is huge. Parents, please hear me out. Therapy for the entire family is critical when working to manage ADHD.
Family therapy can also be beneficial for individuals with ADHD, particularly children and adolescents. Family therapy can help family members understand the challenges of living with ADHD and develop strategies for supporting each other. It can also help improve communication and reduce conflicts within the family.
In addition to traditional talk therapy, some individuals with ADHD may benefit from alternative forms of therapy such as art therapy or music therapy. These therapies can help individuals with ADHD express themselves in a creative and nonverbal way, which can be particularly helpful for individuals who struggle with verbal communication.
It is important to note that therapy is not a one size fits all approach. The important thing is to find what works for you or your family. If you’re feeling stuck or don’t know where to turn, I recommend taking a look on Psychology Today and searching based on your interests and demographics.
Supplemental Remedies for ADHD
Supplements are a popular alternative treatment option for ADHD. They can be used to complement medication or as a standalone treatment for individuals who cannot or choose not to take medication. However, it is important to note that supplements should not be used as a replacement for prescribed medication or other evidence-based treatments for ADHD. So please talk with your provider before adding supplements or making changes. I talk about supplements more in depth in another post, but here is a recap.
Some supplements that have been used to treat ADHD:
1. Omega-3 fatty acids:
These are essential fatty acids that are found in fish and other sources. They are important for brain health and may have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms.
This mineral is important for brain function and has been shown to improve hyperactivity and impulsivity with ADHD.
This mineral is important for cognitive function and may be helpful for individuals with ADHD who have low iron levels.
This mineral has a calming effect and may be helpful for individuals with ADHD who difficulty sleeping.
5. Vitamin B6 and B12:
These vitamins are important for brain function and may have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms.
It is important to note that supplements can have side effects and may interact with other medications or supplements. So it is essential to talk to a holistic psychiatric nurse practitioner or other healthcare provider before trying any supplements for ADHD.
Conclusion: How to Cure ADHD
Sorry, again, for getting your hopes up about a cure for ADHD. While there is no known cure for ADHD, there are various holistic approaches that can help manage the symptoms beyond what most folks expect. As a holistic psychiatric nurse practitioner I work with individuals to develop a customized treatment plan that incorporates mindfulness meditation, nutritional support, exercise, behavioral therapy, and supplements - along with medication if necessary. This integrative approach for ADHD can help individuals live a fulfilling life and achieve their goals.
If you have any additional questions about ADHD or integrative psychiatry in general, shoot me an email or reach out through my website. If you're looking for a provider and you're in the Washington, DC area, I'd love to help you on your treatment journey!