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Alternative treatments for ADHD are needed

Doubts regarding the effectiveness of commonly used ADHD therapies on clinically relevant outcome measures, the unproven long-term efficacy of treatment and concerns surrounding potentially serious adverse effects of medication have led to a search for alternative treatment options. Lifestyle factors, such as quality of diet, physical and sedentary activities, sleep patterns and electronic media use, may be precursors or consequences of ADHD. The  identification of these health-related lifestyle risk factors would seem to be important in individuals with ADHD, since interventions in these areas may improve behavioural, cognitive and physical symptoms of the disorder. Current evidence suggests that symptoms of ADHD may be ameliorated by improved lifestyle choices. A greater emphasis, in both research and clinical practice, should therefore be placed on lifestyle factors associated with ADHD.

See also:

Lange, K.W. (2020). The need for alternative treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Movement and Nutrition in Health and Disease 4, 1-9.

Role of Diet and Nutrients in ADHD

Diet and nutrition may be important factors in the etiology and treatment of psychiatric disorders. At group level, single nutrients do not appear to play a significant pathogenetic or therapeutic role in ADHD. Benefits of supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals may be confined to individuals deficient in these micronutrients. Dietary pattern may be of greater importance than individual nutrients. Both diet and consumption of certain nutrients may be precursors or consequences of ADHD. The identification of a potential role of food bioactives in ADHD is hindered by the ill-defined nature of the disorder and the lack of biological or neuropsychological markers underpinning its validity.

See also:

Lange, K.W. (2020). Micronutrients and diets in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Chances and pitfalls. Frontiers in Psychiatry - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 11, 102.

Lange KW. Do food bioactives play a role in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder? J Food Bioact 2018; 4: 1-7.

Benefits and Harms of Methylphenidate (Ritalin) in ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequently diagnosed and treated behavioral disorder in children and adolescents and may persist into adulthood. The core symptoms of ADHD frequently cause significant impairment in academic, social and behavioral functioning over many years in children, adolescents and adults. Currently used treatments, such as pharmacotherapy and behavior therapy, can yield significant short-term benefits for many individuals with ADHD. However, it is unclear whether or not the currently used treatments mitigate the negative impact of non-treatment on the quality of life of individuals with ADHD over an extended time period. Long-term randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard for measuring treatment effects, are largely absent. Long-term administration of methylphenidate may result in a diminution of beneficial effects of the drugs used in ADHD. Scant research has adequately evaluated the long-term safety of drugs for ADHD. Poorly determined long-term beneficial effects of medication need to be carefully weighed against possible over-prescription and a range of potential adverse effects. Treatment of ADHD has no proven beneficial impact on long-term outcomes but may be associated with various adverse effects.

See also:

Lange KW. The treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has no proven long-term benefits but possible adverse effects. Mov Nutr Health Dis 2017; 1: 11-25. DOI: 10.5283/mnhd.4.

Storebo OJ, Faltinsen E, Zwi M, et al. The jury is still out on the benefits and harms of methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2018.

Swanson JM, Arnold LE, Molina BSG, et al. Young adult outcomes in the follow-up of the multimodal treatment study of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: symptom persistence, source discrepancy, and height suppression. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2017; 58: 663-678. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12684.

  1. Fakultät für Humanwissenschaften
  2. Institut für Psychologie