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The ADHD mind: how to manage it

ADHD clinical diagnoses and self-diagnoses are increasing across the world. However, as the demand increases the supply is struggling: assessment wait times continue to soar.

When you receive an official ADHD diagnosis, you are typically offered medication. Whilst this is suggested to be helpful for people, what is happening is an absolute reliance on the medication with other elements of a holistic treatment being neglected. This is also because there is very little support after medication is given. Also, medication isn't working for everyone. How else can we look at the ADHD mind and manage it ourselves?

First, here are a few things you should never do:

Do not take ADHD medication without a thorough, clinical assessment.

Do not self-medicate.

Do not consume excessive sugar. Sugar intake should be monitored closely as it makes ADHD symptoms worse; it causes release of dopamine in the brain similar to stimulant drugs, by increasing brain dysregulation. Spike in blood sugar, resulting in insulin spikes makes the ADHD mind experience hypoglycemia (making attention worse).

Do not disrespect your sleep. Avoid overstimulating activities in the hours preceding your sleep, such as watching TV and computer games. A routine becomes even more important for the ADHD mind.

Here are some things you should do:

Do keep a consistent routine and schedule around your work and personal life. Balance becomes much more important, so you need to avoid doing too much of something. Where this might be difficult for you, you need to think about your relationship with boundaries, how might you communicate boundaries better?

Do reduce distractions. Think about what is in your control by reducing and removing distractions. Is it the location you could change, or the cleanliness of the area you are working in?

Break down tasks to avoid overwhelm. When we want to tackle a task, we can be beaten down even just by the idea of it. Break-every-single-thing-down. All-the-way-down. Small steps can help reframe the task and make you feel that you are in control of it, rather than the task in control of you.

Do try and slow down and meditate. Meditation might sound cliche but it is spoken of so widely because it is powerful and works in quietening the mind. Find a meditation guide that works for you, and stick to it. Start small.

If not ADHD, then what?

We are also finding that ADHD medications are not helping some people. Where traditional treatments and medications are no effective, you may instead be experiencing symptoms of trauma rather than ADHD. People with trauma have similar symptoms to ADHD such as difficulty focusing and hyperactivity. These symptoms can improve trauma-focused interventions.

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