Non pharmacological treatment
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) specifically for ADHD
The NICE guidelines recommend that ADHD CBT should be provided if the following criteria are met:
- You have been treated with medication but you still have symptoms
- You have tried medication and it has not worked out for some reason
- You have made an informed choice to not try medication and try non-pharmacological treatments first
The guideline does recommend that this is most cost effective and should be provided on a group basis.
CBT stands for ‘cognitive behaviour therapy’. It is normally used as treatment for mild anxiety and depression. ADHD CBT is different to the CBT the NHS normally provides. It is a program that specifically deals with the symptoms and executive function difficulties (like inattention and its impact on daily tasks) that people with ADHD struggle with. It is also essential that the therapist has experienced, and is aware of, adult ADHD symptoms.
It is difficult to find a therapist who is used to working with ADHD adults. Susan Young and Ana Brannan have written excellent articles, research and books that therapists can use to help people with ADHD. If you are seeing a therapist that has not had previous experience of adult ADHD it could be worth suggesting this book to them or suggesting you follow the recommendations for treatment.
Follow this link for a guide for how to access ADHD CBT both through the NHS or privately
To manage symptoms of ADHD, an individual may need to slow their thoughts and physical activity down by making lifestyle changes. It is recommended they incorporate some or all of these into their lives as far as possible:
Alternative therapies. Like mindfulness, meditation and yoga. Spending time in nature and learning to focus on the ‘here and now’. Finding ways to slow down your thoughts.
Get support. Find an ADHD group where you can find ‘your people’ and learn from the experiences of others.
Friends and Family. Find people who understand you and support your sense of positive self-esteem. They are also the people you trust to tell you honestly if your behaviour is having a wider impact.
More information. There are self-help guides on ADHD for example:
Look at changing your diet. There is no firm scientific evidence that cutting out sugar has an impact on ADHD, but a healthy diet including plenty of proteins and healthy fats has shown to improve concentration and mood. If this is hard to incorporate into a diet then supplements can be used such as Omega 3 or Zinc
Exercise. In moderation, exercise can be effective in managing the symptoms of ADHD. However, those with ADHD have to be aware of the addictive nature of exercising to excess.
Alcohol and Substances. Consuming these will impact on the effectiveness of your medication and the severity of symptoms. Therefore, an individual has to judge their own use.