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Alternative Methods for ADHD Treatment

Alternative treatments for ADHD
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more

Once a person hears the diagnosis of “attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder” (ADHD), they might think that pharmacological treatment is the only option. But although stimulant medications (including methylphenidate and amphetamine) are the core interventions for managing this condition, there are other strategies too.

Given that ADHD cannot be cured completely, a person should rely on different types of self-support. Medications can aid well for quick help. But for long-term results, psychotherapy and a variety of natural alternative treatments for ADHD will be beneficial too. According to the MTA Cooperative Group Study, using natural therapies like lifestyle modification, brain training, and behavior therapy to complement ADHD medications provides better results than drugs alone. So, let’s delve into the details of the diversity of alternative treatment options.

Want to manage ADHD symptoms effectively? Ask our doctors for a personalized treatment plan.

ADHD Treatment Overview

Currently, there are no set parameters for predicting individual patients’ responses to ADHD treatments. Monitoring symptoms is the only way to determine if a particular therapy is helpful. Noteworthy, you’ll have to be open to numerous changes in diet, exercise, sleep, and more before finding which treatment works best.

Your therapist will require you to keep a symptom log detailing improvements and setbacks before recommending new approaches.

Alternatives to ADHD Medications

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Generally, CBT aims to modify specific thought patterns that cause maladaptive behavior. The difficulty in accomplishing tasks by adults with ADHD might emanate from irrational thoughts. CBT challenges the individual to examine the evidence of such ideas with the aim of correcting ADHD symptoms.

According to the 2010 report [1*] , targeted, skill-based CBT interventions effectively alleviate ADHD symptoms in adults. That said, more research is necessary to ascertain such gains.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in enhancing brain and nerve cell function. However, the body cannot manufacture these fatty acids, which must be acquired through diet. Foods such as salmon and mackerel, as well as supplements and vitamins, help boost your omega-3 levels and promote brain function. Fish oil contains two types of omega-3 acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The latter is more beneficial than the former. Thus, when buying supplements, consider those with higher levels of EPA than DPA.

A 2018 study showed that omega-3 fatty acids help alleviate symptoms in individuals with ADHD, while another meta-analysis [2*] indicated otherwise. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health emphasizes that the role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of ADHD is inconclusive and requires further research.

Protein-rich Diet

Proper nutrition is a powerful tool for managing ADHD in adults. According to a study [3*] by Richard Wurtman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proteins trigger brain chemicals responsible for stimulating alertness, unlike carbohydrates that induce drowsiness. Intake of a protein-rich diet also prevents spikes in blood sugar and reduces hyperactivity. Adults require about 50-80 grams of protein per day, depending on their weight.

Other foods for managing ADD include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. When using ADD alternative treatment, avoid excessive fat consumption as they interfere with drug absorption and effectiveness. Therefore, most experts recommend diets consisting of proteins and complex carbohydrates, as described.

Self-help tips may not be enough for some patients. Contact MEDvidi today to get personalized ADHD treatment.

Exercise for ADD

Exercise enhances brain functions and improves mood, emotions, and sleep. When people exercise, the chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, increase. These substances help you to focus better, reducing inattention. Physical activities, including walks and skill-based exercises like ballet or martial arts, offer great benefits in ADHD management. Yoga and other aerobic exercises reduce the symptoms like impulsivity and inattention and improve executive functions.

Alternative ADHD treatment for adults

Brain Training

Brain training programs for ADHD and ADD continue to grow in popularity as they are available on computers, smartphones, and other devices. The programs promise to improve functions, attention, and memory, which are usually disordered in individuals with ADHD. While the tasks might resemble video games, they are designed to stimulate particular brain functions.

With technological advancement, a brain training method called neurofeedback is emerging as a potential alternative ADHD treatment for adults. The therapist will ask you to perform particular cognitive tasks while wearing an electrode-lined cap. Usually, a session lasts about half an hour. The treatment aims to help patients produce brain signals and connections associated with focus.

A literature review [4*] has indicated the positive effects of neurofeedback in controlling ADHD symptoms; however, more research is needed on this subject. While current evidence indicates that brain training can help improve working memory, attention, and hyperactivity, intensive research is needed to prove the usefulness of neurofeedback therapies in ADHD.

Ask a doctor about beneficial routines you can implement to improve ADHD symptoms.

Mindful Meditation

Individuals with ADHD can learn to manage stress, strengthen self-regulation, and develop positive emotions through mindfulness meditation. This treatment plan helps you stay in the moment by meditating silently and increasing self-awareness as you perform daily tasks. According to the 2015 paper [5*] , mindful meditation promises significant efficacy in reducing ADHD symptoms.


Medications are the core tools for treating ADHD in adults. That said, individuals who prefer other methods to the medical route can pursue alternatives to ADHD medication for adults, including nutrition, exercise, brain training, and neurofeedback. Notably, these alternative therapies require additional research to prove their effectiveness. Your therapist can recommend combining two or more treatments to complement ADHD medications. To know more about which treatment strategies will suit your situation best, contact MEDvidi doctors today.


5 sources
  1. Current Status of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adult Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (2010)
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  2. The pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents: A systematic review with network meta-analyses of randomised trials. (2017)
    Source link
  3. Nutrients That Modify Brain Function. (1982)
    Source link
  4. Sustained effects of neurofeedback in ADHD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. (2019)
    Source link
  5. Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Current Empirical Support, Treatment Overview, and Future Directions. (2015)
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.