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Top Treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder

written by: BettyHolt • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 10/7/2010

Stimulating and non-stimulating drugs, behavioral therapy, herbs and essential fatty acids are among the top choices for attention deficit treatment. Even the calming effects of yoga have been used successfully to increase attention in those with ADHD.

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    What Is Attention Deficit Disorder?

    Attention Deficit Disorder, also called ADHD or ADD, is a behavioral disorder beginning in childhood which can last through adolescence and into adulthood. It affects an estimated 8 to 10 percent of school-age children. It is three times as prevalent in boys as girls. Kids with ADHD have trouble focusing, act impulsively, and display hyperactivity. Though they may understand what is expected of them, they have difficulty following through because they can't pay attention, sit still or take care of the details of a task.

    Most children at some times can display this type of behavior, but for those with ADHD it is the rule rather than the exception. There are three main types of attention deficit disorder: the inattentive type, which has trouble with sustained attention; the hyperactive-impulsive type which squirms a lot; and a combined type, displaying traits of both.

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    Conventional Treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder

    For years the standard attention deficit treatment has been stimulating drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine, most which have to be given more than once a day. Although these drugs work, they can have side effects such as decreased appetite, insomnia, stomachache, and irritability. Prescriptions for them have risen dramatically in recent years.

    Non-stimulating drugs such as Strattera work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine in the system, thereby reducing impulsive behavior and increasing attention span. Side effects are minimal and a dose lasts 24 hours.

    Behavioral therapy used along with medications has a better chance of permanently changing behavior. Some behavioral interventions might include creating a routine which can be used every day, getting organized, avoiding distractions like watching TV when doing some other task, and limiting choices so a child won't feel overwhelmed. Goals and rewards help reinforce positive behavior. Encouraging your child to develop a talent can help the child's self-esteem.

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    Alternative Treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder

    A growing number of researchers are finding that nutritional deficiences in essential fatty acids and amino acids are contributing factors in the development of ADHD and are adding these in for attention deficent treatment. The brains of ADHD people often are deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids. Since the brain is 60 percent fat and one-third of that is the type of healthy fat found in fish oil, adding Omega 3 fatty acids seems to supply a missing component. Omega 3's also help with depression, which sometimes accompanies ADHD. Amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and endorphin and can be supplied by a diet of adequate protein or as Julia Ross recommends in "The Diet Cure", adding L-glutamine and L-tyrosine to the diet temporarily.

    The following herbal remedies for attention deficit disorder have been found to be helpful: Ginkgo Biloba, Brahmi, Siberian Ginseng, Gotu Kola and Green Oats. An herbal formula called Focus Factor has been used successfully by some. Liquid Serenity, another herbal formula, works on depressive symptoms. Chinese herbal formulas like Tiaoshen Liquor and Calm Dragon formula are also popular.

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    Yoga

    Pauline Jensen, coauthor of a 2004 study in the Journal of Attention Disorders, says yoga increases concentration while promoting mental and physical discipline and increasing confidence. The parents in Jensen's study reported a decrease in hyperactivity in 8 to 13 year-old boys who practiced yoga once a week for five months. A German study found children taking ADHD drugs could also benefit from a yoga practice and that forward bends were particularly effective by lengthening and deepening the breath.