Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting adults and children. The condition is characterized by symptoms like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention (Puyjarinet et al., 2017). Studies show that behavioural management difficulties and other symptoms related to ADHD start to manifest early in life, mostly before the age of 12 years, and it continues evolving as time goes on.
Maybe you are more than 18 years old and still experience the symptoms of ADHD; it is good to know that you are not alone in this. The condition is rated as one of the most prevalent childhood illnesses that persist beyond adolescence to adulthood. It is now the time for you to worry less if you are suffering from any symptoms of ADHD because, in this blog, I will provide you with the four main coping strategies for patients with ADHD.
Evidence-based studies show that Behavioral therapy can significantly help patients with the condition to effectively learn strategies for coping with their symptoms. According to Heath et al. (2015), the practice focuses on changing particular behaviours and creating a coping mechanism to manage adverse symptoms.
Several behavioural therapy strategies can be used in this case, and we can look at some of the best. The first approach is to identify the specific problem behaviours related to your ADHD condition. These may include distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty with organization and time management (Heath et al., 2015). The second step will involve setting goals for the coping strategy. After identifying your ADHD problem, set specific goals to facilitate behavioural change. However, to achieve the best result, try to make goals that are realistic and achievable and are focused towards improving specific behaviours.
The other steps that follow involve developing a plan, finding a strategy to implement the plan, trying to reinforce positive behaviours identified, and lastly, engaging the family member and support systems in the behavioural management scheme.
Medication is reported to be another effective treatment for ADHD. According to Merrill et al. (2016), there are two main types of drugs used to treat ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants. Let's see how the medical approach can aid in coping with the condition.
Stimulant medications are the most frequently prescribed medication for the condition. The drug increases the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain (Merrill et al., 2016). The result of the medication involves improving attention, reducing impulsivity, and decreasing hyperactivity. Examples of common ADHD drugs include:
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana)
- Amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse)
On the other hand, Non-stimulant drugs function as an alternative to stimulants, and it is used especially for patients who do not respond well to stimulant medications (Merrill et al., 2016). They function by raising norepinephrine levels in the brain, an important component for improving attention and reducing impulsivity.
Key examples of non-stimulant medications include;
- Atomoxetine (Strattera)
- Guanfacine (Intuniv)
Regular exercise can help to reduce symptoms of ADHD. Exercise can help to improve focus, reduce hyperactivity, and improve mood. Mental experts report the following benefits of exercise in enhancing the coping mechanism for the condition.
For one, exercise helps in enhancing an individual's focus and attention. This is due to the fact that it increases the rate of blood flow to the brain, thus enhancing the cognitive function of the victim (Hajar et al., 2019). Another effect is that exercise reduces hyperactivity and impulsivity. It happens by providing an outlet for extra energy and enhancing self-regulation.
Additionally, exercise reduces stress and anxiety for the victims. Studies show that regular exercise is a natural stress reliever and can aid in lowering anxiety and advancing the individual’s mood (Van Ameringen et al., 2017). This can mostly be helpful for those individuals that experience high levels of stress and anxiety.
Another importance of exercise is that it helps in improving sleep quality. This is important, particularly for individuals struggling with sleep disturbances. Studies also relate exercise with higher self-esteem, which is primarily important in individuals suffering from the consequences of low self-esteem.
Individuals with ADHD often struggle with organization and time management. Decades of studies show that strategies such as using a planner, setting reminders, and breaking tasks into smaller steps can help to improve organization and reduce stress (Bul et al., 2015). Let’s look at some of the ways organization and management strategies help individuals with ADHD condition.
For one, it helps in the management of stress and anxiety. Being organized and managing time efficiently can help to lower stress and anxiety by offering a sense of control and predictability. It also helps in promoting productivity. In this case, effective organization and time management can help individuals with ADHD be more productive and efficient, improving their overall quality of life.
Another huge benefit of organization and time management strategy for individuals with ADHD is that it helps in reduces forgetfulness: The patients may struggle with forgetfulness, but using strategies such as calendars, to-do lists, and reminders can help to reduce forgetfulness and improve memory (Bul et al., 2015). The patients also need a strategy to improve their focus and attention mechanism.
In summary, the four main coping strategies for individuals with ADHD include using Behavioral Therapy as a coping strategy, a Medication Approach, regular exercise, and an Organization and time management strategy. Behavioural therapy focuses on changing particular behaviours and creating a coping mechanism to manage adverse symptoms. Medication involves using stimulant and non-stimulant medications to treat extreme disorder symptoms. It includes drugs such as Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana), Amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse), Atomoxetine (Strattera) and Guanfacine (Intuniv).
Regulate exercise is important when trying to cope with ADHD because it helps in boosting your mood and self-esteem, improves cognitive function, reduces stress and anxiety, and also helps in promoting sleep quality to the victims. Organization and management are important because it helps in the management of stress and anxiety, reduce forgetfulness in patients, improve sleep quality, and promote focus and attention.
Bul, K. C., Franken, I. H., Van der Oord, S., Kato, P. M., Danckaerts, M., Vreeke, L. J., ... & Maras, A. (2015). Development and user satisfaction of “Plan-It Commander,” a serious game for children with ADHD. Games for health journal, 4(6), 502-512.
Hajar, M. S., Rizal, H., & Kuan, G. (2019). Effects of physical activity on sustained attention: a systematic review. Scientia Medica, 29(2), e32864-e32864.
Heath, C. L., Curtis, D. F., Fan, W., & McPherson, R. (2015). The association between parenting stress, parenting self-efficacy, and the clinical significance of child ADHD symptom change following behaviour therapy. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, pp. 46, 118–129.
Merrill, R. M., Thygerson, S. M., & Palmer, C. A. (2016). Risk of injury according to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, comorbid mental illness, and medication therapy. Pharmacopsychiatry, 49(02), 45–50.
Puyjarinet, F., Bégel, V., Lopez, R., Dellacherie, D., & Dalla Bella, S. (2017). Children and adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder cannot move to the beat. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 11550.
Van Ameringen, M., Turna, J., Khalesi, Z., Pullia, K., & Patterson, B. (2017). There is an app for that! The current state of mobile applications (apps) for DSM‐5 obsessive‐compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and mood disorders. Depression and anxiety, 34(6), 526–539.