Are drugs for me?

Prescribed stimulants are considered the first line of treatment for people suffering from attention deficit disorder, or ADD, but they aren’t for everyone.

Patients with high blood pressure or heart conditions may need to avoid these medications or be closely monitored while taking them because an increase in heart rate or blood pressure is a possible side-effect.

Antidepressants are the second line of defense for ADD. Apart from feared longterm side-effects of these medications, for which there is no evidence, many adults whom I see with ADD are very reluctant to take medication for other reasons as well.

Among these is the belief the medication will somehow control them. Well, actually, what happens with antidepressants is that instead of numerous directions all at once – one’s attention may be steered in the direction one wants it to go with the correct dosage of medication.

Think of it as you driving a car rather than the car driving you.

Another reason for patients’ reluctance to take drugs is that many people still view emotional or mental challenges as diseases of the will, and therefore adhere to the outdated notion that if you can’t solve your problems on your own, well, you must be weak then.

However, if you think of medication not as a crutch but as a tool to make your life better – say like your glasses aren’t a crutch but a tool to make your eyes see better – you may be more inclined to take medication.

It does no good, however, to force yourself into something that terrifies you. Because if you strongly believe medication will harm you, the placebo effect can have a negative impact.

That said, many adults with ADD who decide to take medication concurrently with counseling realise they are much calmer and their medication fears subside.

Of course, if you are opposed to medication, then drugs may not be for you.

Consider then neurofeedback as an alternative. Neurofeedback is based on the idea that we can retrain our brains by using an electroencephalogram, or EEG, readings to help shape brainwave patterns in a positive way so that patients can, for example, pay attention instead of daydreaming.

Furthermore, short periods of exercise throughout the day may benefit someone with ADD whenever focus flags, while meditation also stills the mind.