Teens with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) struggle with attention, focus, organization, excessive talking, and fidgeting. They may be hyperactive, impulsive, and even insensitive at times. Clearly, these symptoms can get in the way of a teen’s ability to do well in school. They may have behavioral issues, academic concerns, and conflicts with their peers.
And perhaps you’re looking for a way to help your teen in a way that medication cannot. For instance, your teen’s medication might work well, but he or she might be struggling with side effects. For instance, for some, stimulants, like Adderall, Ritalin, and Focalin don’t work well for everyone and have side effects that may be damaging. Other drugs used in lieu of stimulants are anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds. These are non-stimulant medications used for inattention. While these sorts of medications may not have the anxiety promoting side effects of stimulants, they still often are limited in their effectiveness over a long period of time.
Furthermore, as parents, having your teen take medication sends the message that it’s okay to take a pill to quickly remove pain. Of course, this is the message that the entire pharmaceutical industry sends society. However, once children and teens become used to taking a quick fix medication to feel better, Ritalin, Adderall and other ADHD drugs are becoming “gateway drugs” or an entry into the world of getting a quick fix or instant response from a medication. They can be a door to taking recreational drugs, and perhaps even more serious drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.
The following are suggestions that as parents, you may not have tried with your teen. Some of them are simple, such as creating a sleep schedule, while others are more alternative, such as exploring Chinese medicine. Regardless, the suggestions provided in this two part series are meant to open doors to new ways to support your child with teen ADHD.
Find An Integrative Approach
Despite the challenges discussed above, medication may be the right answer for your teen and may be working well. However, if it is not, you may be searching for a way to support your teen that takes into account other healing methods. An integrative approach to ADD/ADHD pulls from the wisdom of older systems of medicine. In Chinese medicine, for example, teens may be typed by certain categories. This ancient form of medicine recognizes that one particular medication isn’t going to work well for everyone. Typing teens into categories based on various physical traits facilitates finding the right medicine. Another alternative method is working with a teen’s diet, such as one taken from Ayurvedic medicine. Diets can benefit teens with ADD/ADHD, especially if they have nutritional deficiencies connected to ADD. This is can be true for female teens, as well who may notice their ADD/ADHD symptoms fluctuate with hormone changes. Finally, exploring a teen’s sleep patterns, use of technology (see article on how texting can impair a teen’s ability to focus) and levels of stress in a teen’s life can provide answers on how to ease the symptoms of teen ADHD.
Find Your Neurotransmitter
Many psychological illnesses are partly the result of an imbalance in the way that certain neurotransmitters are being produced. The brain may be producing too much or too little of neurotransmitters, such as Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Gaba. Too much or too little of certain neurotransmitters can influence moods, focus, body temperature, hunger, perception, and more. By examining a teen’s ADD/ADHD symptoms and history, as well as participating in neurotransmitter testing, you can uncover which neurotransmitter is out of balance. Then, treatment can target the imbalance. For instance, diet, supplements and even medications can be tailored to the neurotransmitter that is imbalanced.
Parents, if your child has tried medication for teen ADHD symptoms and they are just not working. And if you’re willing to try an alternative approach, perhaps finding an integrative approach might work. The second part of this series will explore how supplements, a structured sleep schedule, and freedom from technology might be beneficial.
Bhatia, T. (June 2014). How to Support Your Loved Ones with ADHD. Entheos. Retrieved on July 2, 2014 from: