Alt treatment for Adult ADD
December 15, 2017 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I have been diagnosed and struggling with adult ADD- attention and focus. I am not interested in medication, but I have been trying to mediate for 10mins a day. What else might you recommend that I try? THANK YOU
posted by Boyd to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I had a doctor recommend EPA fish oil and l-tyrosine supplements and there is apparently evidence it works, but it's not at the level of ADD meds.
posted by GuyZero at 10:29 AM on December 15, 2017

I've had to cut back on medication for mine for side-effect reasons, and unfortunately there's nothing I've found that compares. The most important thing for me is accountability on the most granular level possible—long projects are still really hard, but if I make sure I'm working with other people as much as possible I'm pretty good.
posted by Polycarp at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Magnesium and b complex, diet high in fat and protein with minimal carbs and sugar, exercise, caffeine, and Hardy Nutritionals have all had some promise in sub-clinical or mild ADHD. Mindfulness practices like meditation are also very helpful and have clinical support.
posted by crunchy potato at 10:54 AM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

Exercise is huge. I read an article a while back about a guy who didn't do very well on meds, but got into fitness and running and did much better exercising without meds than he did medicating without exercise. Just be cautious and deliberate because an injury could make it impossible to exercise for a while and if you're relying on exercise to self-medicate, you're screwed.

The technique involves having another person be present and supportive while you are working on something. For me, just having someone there and having an intention is usually enough to help me stay on target - though they may have to remind me now and then.
posted by bunderful at 11:02 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I too had to stop medication for side effect reasons. I have been using CBD oil and have been very happy with it. It is not as powerful as adderall, which works just fine for me. I get oil without any THC in it, so I never feel high. There is ambiguity as to its legality, but here in Oregon I am not worried.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:04 AM on December 15, 2017

Getting very much into a bullet journal/planner habit worked for me. I'd been keeping one off and on for some months, and at the beginning of this year looked back through it and discovered that when I sat down on one day during the weekend and created a weekly layout, listed tasks, and spent a little time making it look nice-ish, those were the weeks I actually accomplished tasks. When I didn't do that, I didn't get anything done. So I force myself to do it every Sunday now. I think spending time on a regular basis really thinking about what I had to do in the upcoming days and planning it in advance helped.

I also discovered, by using trackers in my journal, that my mood corresponded directly with whether I got anything done that day, which helps a bit more because when I find myself slipping into a depressive state I can sometimes halt that by doing something, anything, on my list.

Nothing's perfect, though.
posted by telophase at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

Seconding bullet journaling--don't let the super artsy ones on the internet fool you, it's really easy to set up and maintain, it's a really flexible way of keeping track of your life, and like telophase said, carving out a little bit of time to set it up (and maybe throw in a cute sticker or two) usually results in at least some of those things getting done that week. Which is great! I had a hard time maintaining habit/mood trackers myself, but they can be a great visual reminder to do small tasks every day or to see how often you X or Y.

I've had some success with the Pomodoro technique at work for getting stuff done (caveat: when I can actually talk myself into doing it). Same as with the bullet journal, it works a lot better when you take like 5-10 minutes to make sure you've got a plan and then actually try to stick with it. But even if you only get half of your daily tasks done, that can be better than nothing.

If there's something that is particularly important to you that you want to make sure to do every day (for me, it's getting up from my desk chair on the semi-regular) finding a reminder app or setting an alarm can be a good way to prompt you to do the thing. But if you're anything like me, setting TOO many of them just means you start tuning them all out and ignoring them after awhile (or looking at each one and letting it derail you from your current task THEN ignoring them--which is worse), so I might only recommend doing this for one or two things that are particularly important to you to remind yourself to do. Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 12:05 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, if you go the Hardy Nutritionals route, it is most helpful for individuals not currently on medication. When it starts working, side effects from medication can become worse and serotonin syndrome can also occur depending on the medication. Definitely not something to start without a doctor's support through the process if you take medication, per their clinical team. IANYMD just pointing out it is potent and care should be taken.
posted by crunchy potato at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2017

Similar to others, I've found that a high protein, low-carb diet and exercise have been extremely helpful.

Try and give yourself the most reliable routines you can. Get up at the same time every day. Go to bed at the same time every day. Your mind & body will fight this at first then be grateful for it later.

With as many of life's tiny hassles as possible, adopt the rule of OHIO: Only Handle It Once. Try to get your bills organized so that you can pay them online as soon as the bill comes in the mail. Then throw it away and never think about it again. Clear out your email and unsubscribe religiously. Use email sorting rules to auto file as much of the rest as you can. ( helped me a lot with this.) Keep your inbox empty. Dishes washed or into the dishwasher right after use. Laundry run as soon as there is enough for a load, folded as soon as it comes out of the dryer, put away right after that.

These may sound more like behavioral suggestions or helpful habits than mindfulness things. They are not. The ADHD brain is drawn to chaos. A messy kitchen after a meal becomes a messy living room, becomes a messy home, becomes an ADHD person who feels off track. Preserve order as much as you can in as many ways as you can. The next time you feel like treating yourself to something, treat yourself to something that simplifies your life. Buy a cabinet to file all of those stacks of papers in. Get new hangers and put your clothes away properly.

And on and on. Treat the appearance of disorder and half-finished tasks in your house like you would seeing that first cockroach. Squash it before it spreads.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:39 PM on December 15, 2017 [12 favorites]

I had a roommate who could not take stimulant meds because he was a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. He self-medicated with intense aerobic exercise and a pretty regimented schedule. It seemed to work pretty well for him: he was able to juggle a job, part-time school, AA, creative pursuits, and a relationship without going off the rails.

I take ADHD meds but a very low dose, and I find sleep makes an enormous difference.
posted by lunasol at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2017

Why aren't you interested in medication?

I tried almost everything to deal with my Adult ADHD, but the only thing that's really worked is medication.
posted by SansPoint at 12:51 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

As a longer term strategy, be aware of things where your type of brain gives you an advantage. Occasionally you will come across things that come very naturally to your brain and don't seem that difficult -- and you probably won't realize that this isn't true for most people unless others express how it would be difficult for them. It's rare that someone will tell you.

Remember when they do. Tuck that thought away for safekeeping somewhere that your mind can mull it over periodically. Try to cultivate an awareness of what sorts of things might fall into that category for you.

Those things are your strengths. Play to them.

This doesn't help with attention and focus directly, but if you are able to change your life so you are doing more activities that play to your strengths you'll find it easier to deal with those times when you need to do things that aren't your strengths.

Also, exercise and nutrition. Keeping a food diary and tracking the things you want to improve on can help you figure out what dietary things work for you. And always have a healthy high protein snack with you, in case you forget to eat.
posted by yohko at 3:06 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Caffeine. I’ve also found it helpful to try to get out of the habit of multitasking, or to put it another way, trying to maximize my efficiency by starting multiple tasks simultaneously in hopes of finishing them faster. (As opposed to, say, listening to headphones while I vacuum. Not that kind of multitasking.) Just plain slowing down a couple notches and finishing one task fully before starting a new one does make a difference in my ability to finish things, and it also boosts the quality of my work because I’m not forgetting details or cutting corners.

This may sound a little odd, but I also find a voice assistant device (an Echo Dot in my case) to be incredibly helpful. I tend to use lists frequently—a to-do list on my refrigerator, shopping lists that sync with my phone so I have it with me at the store. I constantly get derailed when I’m in the middle of one thing and see another thing I need to take care of—either I stop right then and add it to my list, which may or may not distract me from what I was doing, or I finish my task and hope I remember what I need to add (and I often don’t). It’s really helpful to be able to add items to lists, ask for updates, etc. in the moment by using the Dot, rather than stopping to write something down or look something up.

For the sake of an anecdote, I decided to stop medication because I felt the benefits I received from Adderall did not outweigh the hassle, expense and side effects. I also found that I would become increasingly tolerant of a given dose after about 5-6 months, and I didn’t want to be perpetually taking more and more just to get the same benefits. And although it did enable me to focus and tune in much more easily, it did not magically replace the organizational habits that I still needed. In the end, I decided that the organizational habits were the more valuable and effective aspect of handling my ADHD, and that I could use OTC stimulants to give a little brain boost. So I went off the meds and increased my coffee intake a little. I’m still pretty scatterbrained, but as others have noted, nutrition and routine are excellent tools for countering that.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:10 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am convinced that the supplement N-acetylcysteine (NAC) helps me with both impulsivity and anxiety. It's not a short-acting remedy, it's the sort of thing you take daily and after a couple of weeks you realize, hmmm, I seem to be focusing a lot better and haven't really been anxious lately.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:54 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

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