“ADHD Treatment Through Medication and Behavior Therapy”
Sometimes ADHD can feel overwhelming. But it must not be allowed to dominate your life and prevent you from carrying on with activities of daily living or from pursuing your dreams. Let me discuss what ADHD is, how it is treated, and my experience coping with ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a behavioral disorder that begins in childhood prior to the age of 12. The three markers of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. There has been recent debate about how many and how often young children are diagnosed with ADHD because of the difficulty discerning between a lack of functioning and a child's personality and other behavioral traits.
The two main approaches to providing treatment with ADHD are through medications--both stimulants and non-stims--and behavioral therapy. I have had the fortune of getting treatment with both and they are important to consider if you have been diagnosed or feel you have issues with your attention span.
Medications can be used to treat ADHD. There are both short and long-acting medications -- dextroamphetamine has a shorter duration of effects than does a medication of the methylphenidate category, such as Ritalin. Consult a medical professional to discuss a variety of medications that are too numerous to list here. My own experience is that they are very helpful at reducing ADHD's symptoms.
Behavioral therapy has been, in my experience, the most powerful way to achieve ADHD coping skills for it allows one to explain what is happening in their life to someone with training and experience who desires to see an improvement in that person's condition. It is, one hopes, a safe space where personal achievement and failure can be explained; a discourse ensues about human behavior—your behavior—in relation to psychological science and even a little bit of social theory. So in this setting, one's behavior can be put under a microscope and goals can be set—related to ADHD, personal health, or any number of issues depending on the provider's specialization, interests, and training. A person is encouraged to seek behavioral therapy because it can do something medications can't which is have a life-long impact on your behavior not just a momentary chemical change in your brain (not all of my readers seek that, but in those who do, they understand the effects are fleeting).
And there are many ways in your own life that you can try to cope with ADHD. One of the best ways is to find an activity that you really enjoy and practice it--making art, reading, writing, playing a sport. One cannot become a better cyclist if their bike never hits the trails or streets. One has to be very disciplined and practice each week, improving their strength and also their knowledge of using the bike. Experience with an activity you enjoy can bring you skills that are tangentially related to staying on task and coping with your ADHD -- so you improve your quality of life through praxis.
Remember not all of life can be spent in 'idle thought' mode--a mode that myself and many other people with ADHD find themselves in. Sometimes one has to put their bike into high gear and stay on task. Sometimes life demands us to proceed with things as if we were in a military-like setting, even if we don't care about the military. Or to ask the question—a boolean response is required: am I on task? 0 or 1?
Sometimes it is useful to dissect a moment of my personal life such as cleaning my bike when I get home from work. As I dip the sponge into the bucket I am thinking not of the water touching my hand, or the hair on my back standing up in response to the stimuli, or the sound of the water dripping back into the bucket, but I am following the sponge with my eyes to the part of the frame which I will put the sponge on. It is conceivable that people with ADHD have more difficulty putting a filter on their sensory inputs. These individuals also have an ability to quickly shift their attention between sight or sound or touch, and indeed process them in parallel. Although what today we consider to be an expression of ADHD symptoms could--in a different setting in which humans were challenged to survive--be a valuable adaptation. But in our present capitalist environment we must constrain the sensory inputs somewhat and at the right moments so that the bike can be cleaned and ready to ride once again.
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