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How to help with ADHD – How to support those around you

by Laura Palmer

Did you know that ADHD (or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) affects 5% of children and 3% of adults in the UK? That’s 1.5 million people, making it the most common behavioural disorder in the country. However, according to charity ADHD action, just 120,000 adults have been formally diagnosed with ADHD in the UK. So, it’s likely you know someone who has the condition, whether it’s been officially recognised or not. This October is ADHD awareness month. A good time to think about what the disorder is, how to help with ADHD and support those around you that have it.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is defined by psychiatrists as “a persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than in most individuals”. Day to day, this means ADHD sufferers are more likely to have a short attention span. They might feel restless and find it hard to concentrate. Other super common symptoms include; feeling anxious, constantly making decisions on impulse and problems sleeping.

ADHD can manifest as an inability to focus or prioritise. You could find it hard to remember things. Maybe you experience intense mood swings, or get majorly impatient at the tiniest thing? One thing’s for certain, ADHD can make everyday life difficult. So, what should you do if someone you know has it? How can you help with ADHD?

1. Encourage them to seek treatment:

The first step in getting treatment for ADHD is a trip to the GP. They will then refer on to a psychiatrist or therapist. Increased awareness and understanding of the disorder means most doctors will take concerns about ADHD seriously. However, if the person you’re supporting hits a brick wall, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion. It’s also worth contacting the Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS). They have loads of experience in offering help and advice to ensure people with ADHD get the right support.

2. Understand the different therapies used to treat ADHD:

If you want to know how to help with ADHD, learning about the different treatments is important. Medicine and/or therapy is usually used to help people cope. Broadly speaking, the medications work by increasing activity in the brain – particularly in areas that play a part in controlling attention and behaviour.

This kind of medication can be a lifesaver for some people, but there can be side effects. This can be anything from loss of appetite to aggression, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. If someone you know with ADHD is exhibiting these behaviours, be mindful it could be side effects from their medication. Stay patient and understanding. You could also help them to look at alternative treatments (if this is something they want to do).

They could try psychoeducation, where you discuss ADHD and its effects, or social skills training. Talking therapy like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling can also help to live with the condition. Natural supplements to manage the symptoms are another pathway well worth considering.

3. Learn about natural alternatives to manage ADHD:

It’s not just pharmaceutical drugs that can improve ADHD symptoms, there are many natural products that can help. For example that amazing allrounder: Omega-3. When taken regularly, Omega-3 can improve brain function, memory and sleep. Plus, studies show it can ease hyperactivity and reduce other ADHD issues.

Anyone with ADHD should also consider boosting their B vitamin intake. Why? Because this vitamin complex is essential for optimum mood and mental clarity. They might also benefit from topping up vitamins A, C and D, which all play a key role in optimum cognitive function.

The Patchworks Focus Patch contains all these wonder ingredients, plus a unique blend of Nootropics. Nootropics can boost memory, focus, motivation and creativity. Patchworks customer Sarah has ADD and has found the Focus Patch has eased her symptoms.

“I have been using various patches for the last few years and can’t recommend them enough,” she says. “I have ADD, so the Focus Patch has been a god send and really helps me.”

Medication and therapeutic interventions aren’t the only things that can improve life with ADHD. There are also practical tips on how to help with ADHD. For a start:

4. Lists, lists and more lists!

Two classic ADHD traits are inattention and distractibility, so getting organised can prove a challenge. It may sound simple, but introducing structure and deadlines can be a real gamechanger in tackling this. Setting deadlines for everything (even if they are self-imposed) helps to avoid procrastination and creates an organised system. Then, when things get chaotic and overwhelming, there’s something to refer to.

Encouraging ADHD sufferers to break tasks down into smaller steps can also help. They could then use list tools, like daily planners and reminders to record what they need to do. They could take the old school approach and put pen to paper, or use one of the many “to do” apps or task managers out there.

Using a day planner or calendar on a phone, or computer, will help to remember appointments and those all-important deadlines. Studies have shown that colour-coding is very effective for people with ADHD. Get busy with the highlighter and make those lists as colourful and attention-grabbing as possible.

5. Choosing the right foods:

Food, glorious food, it’s such a huge part of our lives, especially when getting social with friends, family, and colleagues. But if you want to help with ADHD, learning about which foods are best avoided is a must.

Evidence has shown that excessive sugar, artificial colours, caffeine, honey, white rice, white flour, and high-fructose corn syrup can all exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD. So, make sure fizzy drinks and foods with these ingredients are off the menu.

Some ADHD sufferers find frozen fruit and vegetables, and fish with a high mercury content can also worsen how they feel. If in doubt, it’s always best to ask which foods are problematic for that person. If it’s a family member, encourage them to keep a diary of what they eat and how they feel, to help identify trigger foods.

So what should you be serving up? Brain food is where it’s at. High protein foods such as beans, eggs and nuts can all be beneficial to concentration. You should also include complex carbs, such as oranges, pears, apples and kiwi. If eaten in the evening, they can promote sleep. Omega-3 fatty acids in diet, as well as taking a supplement, is a very good idea. So a delicious tuna niçoise, or grilled mackerel are an excellent main course choice for an ADHD dinner guest. Bon Appetit.

The likelihood of getting a child to eat some of these super foods is slim to none. Especially if they have ADHD and ASD, which can make kids picky about what they eat. If this is a concern, the Patchworks Kids Multivitamin Plus Patch is packed with over 20 essential vitamins and minerals AND that all important Omega-3. Easy peasy!