Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an astounding 8.7 million adults in the U.S. While many people associate the neurodevelopmental disorder as primarily impacting children, adults struggle with it, too. As a matter of fact, if you are an adult with ADHD, many experts agree that you’ve had it since childhood. It was just never diagnosed. 65% of children with ADHD have symptoms that persist into adulthood.

That could explain a lot, couldn’t it? 

As an adult with ADHD, you’ve likely had difficulty with:

  • focusing
  • organization
  • planning ahead
  • self-regulation
  • patience
  • losing things
  • working memory (keeping information in your mind so you can complete a task)

Living with ADHD can be highly challenging, especially if you aren’t receiving treatment. The good news is that several ADHD treatment options can help reduce symptoms and lead to better life fulfillment. 

Causes of ADHD

There are some common false ideas surrounding what causes ADHD. Some may try to blame eating too much sugar, allergies, food additives, watching too much television, and immunizations. But there is absolutely no evidence to support any of these claims. Learn about ADHD treatment options.

Currently, there is no definitive cause of ADHD, but there are some theories based on research. This research shows that a combination of the following factors more likely causes ADHD:

Genetic Factors

Genes play a significant role in your predisposition to develop ADHD. According to experts, genes may account for approximately 74% of the cause of ADHD. Several specific genes could increase your chance of developing ADHD. In fact, a current ongoing study estimates that number to be approximately 7,300 genetic variants. 

According to studies, children with ADHD have a 1 in 4 chance of having a parent with ADHD. And if that parent has yet to be diagnosed, there is a good chance they will be along with the child.

Biological Factors

Brain development is also a factor in the possibility of developing ADHD. Studies have shown that those with ADHD have areas of the brain that are slightly smaller than those without. These differences in brain volume are more noticeable in children than adults, meaning some symptoms diminish with age and brain development. However, many ADHD symptoms persist into adulthood in approximately 65% of cases. 

The function of your brain also plays a part in ADHD. A 2018 review involving functional MRIs revealed that individuals with ADHD have impaired brain networks managing attention, timing, cognitive control, and working memory. 

Another aspect of the brain that contributes to developing ADHD is brain chemistry, which is the chemical balance of your nervous and mood systems. One of the major findings in past research shows that those with ADHD have lower dopamine levels. Dopamine plays a vital role in memory, focus, executive functioning, and motor function. 

Environmental Factor

Another potential cause of ADHD could be environmental factors, specifically occurring in utero and early life. These factors include the following:

  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy: If you were exposed to alcohol while your mother was pregnant, you are 1.55 times more likely to develop ADHD. 
  • Prenatal smoking: If your mother smoked during pregnancy, according to a 2015 study, you may also be at a higher risk for developing ADHD.
  • Neurotoxins: There have also been studies linking your exposure to certain chemicals like pesticides and lead as a child, which could increase your chance of ADHD. 
  • Low birth weight: Yet another study found that babies weighing under 3.3 pounds at birth were at least twice as likely to develop ADHD, and babies under 2.2 pounds are at least four times as likely.

You are a unique individual with an equally unique genetic and biological makeup. It’s important to understand that while these potential causes of ADHD have been researched and studied, if any apply to you, other factors may also be at play. 

Treating ADHD starts with understanding the causes.

Effective ADHD Treatment Options for Adults

Yes, living with ADHD as an adult can disrupt your life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. At Nexus of Hope, we offer several highly effective treatment options to help reduce symptoms so you can be more productive and focused and live a happier, more fulfilling life. 

When you think about treating ADHD, your mind may go to medication. There are some excellent medication options for treating ADHD, but it’s essential to understand that medication isn’t meant to “cure” ADHD. It’s intended to reduce symptoms. 

To get the most benefit from treating ADHD with medication, you need to incorporate several treatment options, including combining your prescription with therapy and lifestyle changes. Our team of highly skilled psychiatric nurse practitioners at Nexus of Hope can help you in all of these areas! 

Treating ADHD With Medication

Two types of FDA-approved medications are often prescribed to treat ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants. 

Nexus of Hope can help treat ADHD with prescription medication.

  • Stimulants: The most commonly prescribed stimulants for adults with ADHD are methylphenidate and amphetamine, which both affect dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake in the brain. Because they increase these two neuro-transmitters, they also help improve brain function. 

Most adults with ADHD respond best to long-acting stimulants, which last approximately 10-14 hours. Of course, any medication prescribed should be monitored closely to ensure you receive the correct dosage and to keep an eye on any potential side effects. Depending on your situation and your clinician’s recommendation, you may want to stay on medications, but you may not have to. 

  • Non-stimulants: Sometimes, stimulants aren’t an option when treating ADHD. But there is one FDA-approved non-stimulant that could help. Atomoxetine (Strattera) is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. 

Unlike stimulants, there is no potential for abuse. However, non-stimulants often take longer to work. While some adults with ADHD report small changes in hyperactivity and impulse control in as few as two weeks, it may take one to two months to feel the maximum effects.

It’s essential to understand that everyone responds differently to ADHD medication. But when you partner with our psychiatric nurse practitioners at Nexus of Hope, you can trust they’ll keep a close eye on your improvements and make any necessary changes. 

Treating ADHD With Therapy

ADHD treatment options go beyond medication. When treating ADHD, behavioral therapy can help you learn the skills you need to control your symptoms and manage tasks. Using therapy in conjunction with medication can help you develop strategies to improve organization, impulse control, and focus. Of course, you don’t need medication to do this, either. Some adults with ADHD find behavioral therapy alone can help improve thought and behavior patterns. 

With that said, therapy alone won’t change how your brain works. But it can help you learn skills to make succeeding at work, school, home, and relationships easier. 

At Nexus of Hope, our clinicians will work with you to create a plan to set achievable goals and change specific behaviors. 

Therapy is an effective part of treating ADHD.

Treating ADHD With Lifestyle Changes

Another effective way to treat ADHD in adults is through making lifestyle changes. While it can be challenging to incorporate all of the following into your life at once, working on them slowly, with realistic goals in mind, can help you thrive in life, despite your struggle with ADHD. 

  • Get Enough Sleep

As an adult with ADHD, you may have difficulty falling or staying asleep. That means healthy sleep habits may be a challenging symptom for you. Your clinician can help you make small changes in your daily and nighttime routine to try to improve your sleep, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol, going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps, and using a weighted blanket. 

Your clinician may also suggest you change when you take your medication, just in case that could be interfering with your sleep.

  • Exercise

Significant evidence points to exercise as one of the most effective ways to reduce ADHD symptoms naturally. Because exercise releases neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine, which are the same chemicals found in ADHD stimulants, they can provide a similar effect. 

Deep breathing and getting regular exercise is an important part of treating adults with ADHD.

  • Eat Nutritiously

While experts aren’t exactly sure why, ADHD raises your chances of obesity. This could be due to the fact that you may not pay attention to what or how much you are eating. 

The fatty cells around the neurons in your brain play a significant role in your brain’s signaling. Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids in fish, nuts, and other healthy fat foods improves brain function. 

Your clinician at Nexus of Hope can guide you to develop a healthy diet, focusing on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy unsaturated fats, and lean protein. 

  • Meditate

Mindful meditation is an excellent way to strengthen your ability to control your attention. During meditation, you can learn how to observe yourself and focus on one thing in particular. So when your mind wanders, you can bring it back to the present. Mindfulness meditation can also make you more aware of your emotions and control your impulses.

Nexus of Hope: Your Trusted Partner in Treating ADHD

While this article focuses on ADHD in adults, our team of psychiatric nurse practitioners has tremendous experience treating both children and adults with ADHD. We provide comprehensive, holistic mental health services in Minnesota for children and adults alike to help reduce symptoms, develop new, healthy coping skills, and live without feeling like ADHD is in charge. 

Our team of Certified Nurse Practitioners at Nexus of Hope are PTSD Specialists.

Even though we are a group of practiced physicians, we believe in treating the whole person. That means we are equipped to help you through medication management, therapy, and guidance to making healthy lifestyle changes. Contact us for more information about our mental health services in Minnesota.


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