Focus Topic and References
Focus Topic and References
The topic that I have chosen for this paper is that of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). I have chosen to focus on alternative treatments for ADHD that shy away from the traditional approach of stimulant medications. ADHD is among one of the leading disorders of school-aged children in the United States (Pastor, Reuben, Duran, & Hawkins, 2015, p. 1), and it is often more prevalent among boys than girls. In 2011-2013 it was reported that 13.3% of boys and 5.6% girls between the ages of 4-17 years old were diagnosed with ADHD (Pastor, Reuben, Duran, & Hawkins). According to the DSM-5, ADHD is “a persistent pattern of inattentive and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, Section II: Neurodevelopmental Disorders). In order for an individual to be diagnosed with ADHD, they must meet certain criteria, such as failing to pay attention to detail, problems staying focused, following through on tasks, inability to be still, feeling restless, and the inability to wait for his/her turn. These symptoms must be ongoing for at least 6 months (American Psychiatric Association). As ADHD becomes more prevalent in our society, I feel that it is important to seek alternative therapies in the treatment of this disorder in order to preserve the health and well-being of the individuals who are afflicted.
Many of the children that are diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed stimulant medications such as, Methylphenidate (Ritalin) which is the most widely used in order to control and manage symptoms of ADHD. While these traditional medications have been proven effective in the treatment of ADHD often times the stimulant medications that are available to treat ADHD come with side effects and can potentially do more harm than good in the process of trying to manage symptoms. For example, Methylphenidate more commonly known as Ritalin can pose serious side effects that can be quite dangerous, such as, hallucinations, seizures, and psychosis (Gephart & Leslie, 2006, p. 52). With this in mind, many parents of children with ADHD are searching for alternative ways to manage and control symptoms associated with ADHD including but not limited to supplementation, mindful exercise such as meditation and yoga, and diet modifications to name a few. There is little research that provides definite answers regarding the long term effects and benefits that alternative treatments have on individuals with ADHD; however, they are of growing interest among doctors and other medical professionals due to the increasing interest among parents of children with ADHD.
One of the articles that I found titled “Attention-deﬁcit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Integrative Approaches” relates to this topic in that it helps to identify some alternative treatments for ADHD by explaining treatments and providing insight into how they may be beneficial using previous research study results in a particular are. Due to the growing demand for homeopathic remedies, 54% of parents of children with ADHD are in search of “Natural remedies” to treat ADHD symptoms as an alternative to traditional western medicine, yet not all of them talk about them with their doctors (Sadiq, 2007, p. 630). This is mostly due to the fact that most doctors are not educated in homeopathic natural remedies, and therefore are unqualified to give advice in this area.
The most effective form of alternative therapy that has been identified for treating ADHD is that of neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a form of therapy that allows individuals to see brain activity, this technology is used as a way to reprogram the brain and teach individual self-regulation. This form of treatment has been known to show similar effects of traditional medications in children with ADHD. However, because this type of therapy requires many sessions it can become very expensive (Sadiq, 2007, p. 635).
According to Piepmeier et al. (2015), exercise is another possible form of alternative treatment that might be beneficial in children with ADHD. In this article, the author(s) investigate the impact of short periods of exercise and the benefits that it has on children with ADHD and their ability to complete cognitive tasks in comparison to children who do not have an ADHD diagnosis. Three tasks are used in this article to measure cognitive ability, The Stroop Test which was used to measure inhibition and processing speed, Tower of London, which was used to measure planning and problem solving, and The Trail Making Test (TMT), which researchers used to measure set shifting (moving back and forth from one activity to the other). Researchers in this article found that aside from the Stroop test measuring faster completion of tasks by individuals with ADHD following a short period of moderate exercise, the results concluded that exercise did not have much effect in the minimization of symptoms associated with ADHD (Piepmeier et al., 2015, p. 102), however, this warrants further investigation, as the sample was not evenly distributed meaning that participants were not all on the same medications and some were not on medication at all, therefore the results regarding exercise and its effects on ADHD were inconclusive and should be further examined.
Researchers and medical professionals have also recommended diet and nutrition as a beneficial alternative treatment option for children with ADHD. According to Magill (2009), some children may be deficient in essential fatty acids (EFA) such as omega 3’s which causes symptoms of ADHD to become magnified (page 15). In a research study conducted with children diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of 8-12 year, old researchers found that EFA supplements decreased cognitive and behavioral problems in children with ADHD far better than the placebo of olive oil (Magill, page 15-16). Because EFA’s are a key component in brain development supplementation of this key nutrient may provide a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms. However, more research is needed in the areas of diet and nutrition to be able to fully understand its role in the improvement of ADHD symptoms.
Diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) continues to grow in the U.S and around the world. Many children and adults alike struggle daily to achieve small milestones that others take for granted, such as, the ability to hold a conversation or master a task. Health and wellness associated with homeopathic and natural remedies are on the rise and with many individuals seeking relief from such treatments I believe that it is important to understand these therapies and their potential benefits, in order to protect the health and well-being of those affected by ADHD.
American Psychiatric Association, (2013). Section II: Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed).
Gephart, H. R., & Leslie, L. K. (2006). ADHD pharmacotherapy: prescribe with safety in mind and monitor results with vigilance [Journal article]. Contemporary Pediatrics, 23(12), 46-54. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu
Pastor, P. N., Reuben, C. A., Duran, C. R., & Hawkins, L. D. (2015). Association between Diagnosed ADHD and Selected Characteristics among Children Aged 4-17 Years: United States, 2011-2013. NCHS Data Brief. Number 201 (201). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
Piepmeier, A. T., Shih, C., Whedon, M., Williams, L. M., Davis, M. E., Henning, D. A., … Etnier, J. L. (2015). The effect of acute exercise on cognitive performance in children with and without ADHD [Journal article]. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 4(1), 97-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2014.11.004
Sadiq, A. J. (2007). Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Integrative Approaches [article]. Psychiatric Annals, 37(9), 630-638. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu