Evidence Based This post has 99 references
0

ADHD: 27 Tips To Help You Manage

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:

SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the health industry and we almost exclusively link to medically peer-reviewed studies, usually on PubMed. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source.

We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.

Our team comprises of trained MDs, PhDs, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and certified health and wellness specialists.

All of our content is written by scientists and people with a strong science background.

Our science team is put through the strictest vetting process in the health industry and we often reject applicants who have written articles for many of the largest health websites that are deemed trustworthy. Our science team must pass long technical science tests, difficult logical reasoning and reading comprehension tests. They are continually monitored by our internal peer-review process and if we see anyone making material science errors, we don't let them write for us again.

Our goal is to not have a single piece of inaccurate information on this website. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please leave a comment or contact us at [email protected]

Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

This article is for informational purposes only. None of the information here should be taken as medical advice. If you suspect you may have an attention disorder, seek medical help. You may try the complementary approaches listed below if you and your doctor determine that they could be appropriate for you. Discuss the strategies listed here with your doctor. 

Diet

Avoid Junk Food

Studies have associated poor attention and worse ADHD symptoms with diets rich in refined sugar, fried foods, and salt [1, 2].

Avoid Food Additives

Artificial food colorings and sodium-benzoate (preservative) may worsen hyperactivity in children [3, 4]. Their effects on attention in particular haven’t been studied.

Fish

ADHD patients have lower intakes and blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (EPA and DHA) [5, 6]. For this reason, some health experts suggest increasing fish and seafood intake as a complementary approach to attention disorders [6].

Fish oil supplementation has shown promising results for ADHD, but it’s unsure whether eating fish would provide similar benefits [7, 8, 9].

Flaxseed Oil

Children and adolescents with ADHD have lower intakes and blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids [5, 6].

Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3s; it improved symptoms in one clinical trial [10].

Lifestyle

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can improve ADHD symptoms in adults and adolescents, especially combined with medication [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17].

Different forms of behavioral therapy are a part of standard ADHD care — consult with a healthcare professional about your options.

Exercise

According to decent clinical evidence, regular exercise may reduce ADHD symptoms [18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24].

Children and adolescents on different exercise programs saw improvements in attention, behavior, and cognition [20, 21, 22].

Neurostimulation

Different nerve stimulation techniques (TENS, TNS) may moderately improve symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity [25, 26].

The FDA has approved a nerve stimulation device for ADHD treatment in children [27].

Mindfulness

Mindfulness-based therapies improved ADHD symptoms in multiple studies, mostly in adults [28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35].

For children, the therapy may be more effective when applied to both them and their parents [36, 37, 38].

Neurofeedback

In different small studies of children with ADHD, neurofeedback increased the activity of brain regions involved in attention and impulse control [39, 40, 41, 42].

Neurofeedback might be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy or drug treatment for ADHD, but larger clinical trials would need to confirm this [43, 44, 45, 46].

Sleep

Poor sleep quality impairs attention and other cognitive functions [47, 48, 49, 50].

Different sleep interventions improved cognitive performance and overall well-being in children with ADHD [51, 52, 53, 54].

Yoga

In four clinical studies, yoga reduced hyperactivity and inattention in children with ADHD [55, 56, 57, 58].

White Noise

White noise improved memory, attention, and language skills in four studies of ADHD patients [59, 60, 61, 62].

Massage

According to limited clinical evidence, massage may enhance focus, behavior, and mood control in children and adolescents with ADHD [63, 64].

Having a Pet/Animal-Assisted Therapy

Psychological therapies with horses or dogs improved symptoms in three studies [65, 66, 67].

Having a pet may provide similar benefits, but studies haven’t confirmed this yet.

Spending Time in Nature

Activities in nature, such as a walk in a park, may enhance attention in children with ADHD [68].

Parents of children with ADHD reported symptom improvement after outdoor activities [69, 70].

Supplements

Fish oil/Omega-3

Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil (EPA and DHA) improved ADHD symptoms in multiple clinical studies [7, 8, 9, 71, 72].

Children receiving omega-3 supplements had their attention, behavior, and cognition improved [7, 8, 9, 71, 72].

Bacopa

Bacopa may enhance cognitive function, attention, and reaction time [73].

According to one review, bacopa improves language skills, hyperactivity, and attention deficit in children and adolescents [74].

Zinc

A couple of studies have associated ADHD with zinc deficiency [75, 76].

Zinc supplementation may improve hyperactivity and behavior in zinc-deficient ADHD patients [77, 78].

The potential benefits of zinc for attention lack stronger evidence [77, 79].

Magnesium

ADHD patients tend to have lower magnesium levels [80].

Magnesium supplementation, alone or in combination with vitamin B6, improved symptoms in two clinical trials [81, 82].

The benefits of supplementation may be limited to magnesium-deficient patients [81, 82].

Korean Ginseng

Preliminary research has shown the potential of korean ginseng to reduce inattention and hyperactivity in ADHD patients [83, 84, 85].

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol)

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) might enhance attention and cognitive functions in children with ADHD [86, 87, 88].

A clinical trial in adults with ADHD failed to confirm the effectiveness of pycnogenol [89].

Vitamin D

ADHD patients are often vitamin D-deficient [90].

Vitamin D supplementation may enhance attention in children with ADHD and increase the effectiveness of drug treatment [90, 91].

Iron

Some studies have associated iron deficiency with ADHD [92].

According to limited clinical evidence, iron supplementation may partly improve symptoms in iron-deficient children [92, 93].

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba was moderately effective for ADHD symptoms in three smaller trials. It may not benefit attention in particular [94, 95, 96].

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine, alone or in combination with omega-3s, enhanced attention, mood, and behavior in two studies of children with ADHD [97, 71].

Ningdong

A traditional Chinese herbal remedy, Ningdong, was as effective as standard drug treatment for ADHD in one clinical trial; it also caused fewer side effects [98].

L-Tyrosine

A review of 15 clinical trials concluded that L-tyrosine may boost attention and cognitive performance in stressful and demanding situations [99].

Learn More

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

Click here to subscribe

RATE THIS ARTICLE

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.