No Silver Bullet. A Multifaceted approach to treating ADHD

The majority of illnesses require a multifaceted approach to treatment.  Parents with children diagnosed with ADHD often resort to one expensive intervention or another in and attempt to 'cure' ADHD.  These parents are sorely disappointed when the 'magic' treatment fails to deliver them a 'normal' child.   

There is no silver bullet treatment for most diseases.  We would not dream of treating heart disease or diabetes without diet and behavior modification.  These diseases require that we look at all the possible risk factors and deficiencies in the patient’s lifestyle.  The key to treating these diseases is found in both medication and lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms.  

We now know a lot about the vitamins, nutrient, and dietary influences of ADHD.  We know from numerous studies that food allergies, low protein/high carbohydrate diets, and diets low in iron, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to the presence and severity of ADHD symptoms. We know that exposures to lead and cigarette smoke can be detrimental.

You need not spend a lot of money on nutritional supplements as the dietary interventions helpful in treating ADHD can be found on your grocery store shelf. Studies have shown that all children do better when they eat a balanced diet and abstain from foods that have artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Diets that are high in sugar and low in protein are also detrimental to children with ADHD.   Taking a multivitamin with 12 mg of Zinc, such as a chewable Flintstone’s Complete Vitamin/Mineral tablet will more than suffice to correct any nutritional deficiencies and an Omega-3 supplement is also a wise intervention.

There are other lifestyle changes that should be incorporated into an ADHD treatment plan. Exercise and exposure to green space has been found to be helpful in treating children with ADHD. Many patients have found relief from some ADHD symptoms using meditation and neuro-biofeedback. Parental Training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also plays a significant role in the diminishing of the symptoms associate with ADHD.

Medications help many ADHD patients tremendously.  There are several classes of medications that have been used with great success.  Impulsive ADHD patients often suffer a great loss of self esteem as they confront their inability to control their impulses. Patients with impulsive symptoms need to be monitored carefully in order that they do not harm themselves and others. These same patients should not be denied medication if this is the only available recourse for symptom control.  Patients with Inattentive ADHD may respond to stimulant medication less well than the other subtypes but they may respond better to norepinephrine inhibitors such as Strattera.   As is true of all illnesses, response to ADHD medications will likely change as the child ages and will be highly individualized.

We would not dream of treating a patient with hypertension by just giving them a pill. A complete treatment plan would include a healthy diet, an exercise plan, vitamin supplementation, and appropriate medications. The same multifaceted approach is necessary to treat ADHD.

1 comment:

  1. This Blog is most informative, especially being an ADD-I (almost certain) dad of an eleven year old ADD-I son (diagnosed). I completety agree that a multi-faceted approach is needed for this complex and almost overlooked (compared to ADHD) puzzle. Incidentally, have you heard of a program that addresses on core issue with ADD-I called "COGMED"?


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