Everyone has an “off” day now and then — a day when it’s hard to stay on task and get anything done, when brain fog replaces mindfulness, or when reckless impulsivity outshines care and prudence.
But for someone who lives with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), virtually every day can feel like an “off” day. That’s because ADHD diminishes the brain’s capacity to carry out key executive functions and self-regulation operations.
Fortunately, ADHD is a highly manageable condition.
As mental health professionals who specialize in ADHD, our team at EXIS Recovery Inc. in West Los Angeles, California, offers a full scope of effective treatment solutions for adolescents and adults who are ready to gain the upper hand over burdensome ADHD symptoms.
Let’s explore six top strategies for dealing with this common neurobehavioral disorder:
1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-driven form of talk therapy that helps you pinpoint the ADHD behaviors that limit your life so you can identify — and actively work to change — the counterproductive thought patterns behind them.
CBT helps you explore the interconnected nature of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and how ADHD influences that web. Then, it gives you the insight and adaptive skills you need to reframe negative thinking and escape the perpetual loop of unwanted behaviors, cognitive distortions, and unhealthy reactions caused by ADHD.
2. Neurofeedback therapy
Whereas CBT is a mindfulness practice that gives you valuable insight and skills that can help you manage ADHD, neurofeedback is a brain-training therapy that teaches your brain how to re-establish healthier brainwave patterns and self-regulate more effectively.
It works like this: EEG sensors on your scalp transmit your brain’s electrical signals to a computer while you listen to music, watch video images, or play a video game. Anytime your brainwave patterns become uncoordinated or unbalanced, your custom training parameters prompt the computer to alter the activity in a way that encourages balanced, coordinated brain activity.
3. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
Research shows that childhood trauma and adversity are closely linked to the development of ADHD. Likewise, people who have ADHD are more likely to experience trauma. To effectively treat ADHD in the presence of trauma, it’s vital to address both problems.
One form of trauma treatment that’s often helpful for people with ADHD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). During EMDR therapy, you briefly recall triggering experiences as our therapist directs your eye movements. Redirecting your attention as you think about a previous trauma makes it easier to process.
Adolescents who are affected by ADHD and trauma may also benefit from trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), a joint parent-child treatment that aims to reduce trauma-related symptoms and provide skills to cope with the effects of ADHD.
4. Medication management
When it comes to controlling ADHD, pills aren’t substitutes for skills. But that doesn’t mean medication shouldn’t be part of your ADHD treatment plan — in fact, the right medication can make a world of difference in your ability to make gains in other treatment areas, including CBT.
Medication helps recalibrate the dysfunctional brain activities that perpetuate core ADHD symptoms like inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, and restlessness. When these symptoms are less intense, it’s easier to stay focused, practice mindfulness, and learn new coping skills.
5. Group therapy programs
Many people with ADHD experience criticism, low self-esteem, and overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt, failure, and stress. That’s why, in addition to teaching you new skills and coping strategies, an effective, multimodal treatment approach also helps you process the emotional and interpersonal effects of living with ADHD.
Small group therapy and peer support programs offer the kind of camaraderie and emotional fortification that can counteract the negative effects of distressing experiences caused by others’ unrealistic expectations. There’s simply nothing like emotional support from people who “get it.”
Sometimes, one-on-one emotional support, such as individual psychotherapy, may be a better treatment option. With this collaborative approach, you work with a therapist to identify the ADHD thoughts and behaviors that affect you the most, find ways to cope with the negative emotions they cause, and learn how to change unwanted patterns.
6. Dual diagnosis therapy
Since ADHD can make you feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of procrastination, failure, distress, and regret, it’s not surprising that many adults with ADHD develop co-occurring mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder (SUD).
Dual diagnosis therapy (DDT) seeks to identify any co-occurring conditions to ensure you receive balanced treatment and comprehensive care. By helping you cope more effectively on every level, DDT allows you to heal, find stability, and rediscover your personal power.
If you’re ready to gain the upper hand over ADHD, the team at EXIS Recovery can help. Call 424-244-3513 to reach our West Los Angeles office today, or click online to schedule a visit with one of our trusted mental health experts any time.