Stimulants vs. Non-Stimulants

The main reason people are hesitant to receive treatment for ADHD is because of the side effects correlated to stimulants. These side effects may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Jitteriness
  • Moodiness
  • Insomnia
  • Increases in pulse and blood pressure

There are many different stimulant options, and patients may need to try a few ADHD medications to find the one that works best for them and causes fewer side effects. Recently, companies have been producing supplements that help fight the side effects of stimulant medications.

However, there are still some patients who want to avoid taking stimulants because they struggle with the side effects or their doctor advises against it due to other health concerns. In addition, about 20% to 30% of people with ADHD find that stimulants don't work for them, so they need other options.

Fortunately, there are non-stimulant medications which can be prescribed to treat ADHD. These medications take longer to start working than stimulants, but they generally have fewer side effects and are a great alternative for those who don't tolerate stimulants well.

In addition, there are some studies that show antidepressants can be helpful for the treatment of ADHD patients. The types of antidepressants that increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels may help, but those that affect serotonin levels don't appear to be effective for ADHD.

‍Non-Medical Treatment of ADHD

There are many options when it comes to non-medical treatment of ADHD. Whether or not you choose to use stimulants to treat ADHD, these strategies may help alleviate your symptoms.


Therapy may help with the management of ADHD. For children with ADHD, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends behavioral therapy as the first line of treatment for ages 4 through 6. This type of therapy can also be used for older children with ADHD, including those who are taking stimulants.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another therapy option for ADHD. It is more commonly recommended for adults with ADHD and can help with the management of symptoms. CBT encourages the development of executive functioning skills affected by ADHD, such as organization, time management, and emotional regulation.

Allergen avoidance

Many people report that avoiding personal allergies helps to improve ADHD symptoms. If you have ADHD and you don't have any known allergies, you may want to consult your doctor about getting tested. Some people are unaware that they have allergies, and avoiding those allergens may help you manage your ADHD more effectively.


There is some research that taking supplements may have a positive effect on individuals’ ADHD symptoms. Some of these supplements include zinc, vitamin B6, and magnesium. In addition, some herbal supplements like ginseng, passionflower, and ginkgo could help calm hyperactivity. Talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements, especially for the treatment of ADHD in children.

Dietary changes

Some doctors recommend making some changes to the diet to see if it helps improve ADHD symptoms. One of the most common dietary suggestions is avoiding artificial food coloring and preservatives. While the research to support this has found mixed results, some individual patients report that it seems to alleviate their symptoms.


A type of neurotherapy known as biofeedback may also be helpful for the treatment of ADHD. It involves measuring the brain waves and sending feedback to help train the brain to focus for longer periods of time.


Feeling overwhelmed or stress can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. One way to combat that is to practice mindfulness. This can be a great way to relieve stress naturally and achieve a calmer state of mind. It may also help with improving focus. Meditation is one of the most commonly recommended ways to work on mindfulness. Other options include breathing exercises, journaling, and yoga, and spending time outside. None of these activities have proven to be as immediately effective as medications, but most doctors recommend a combination of both for a well-rounded treatment of ADHD.

Figuring out the right treatment for your ADHD is a highly personal process. It's important to work closely with your provider to determine whether medication is right for you and, if so, which medications are most effective for your symptoms. Many people need to have their medication type or dosage adjusted before they find the right fit, and they may find that some of the non-medical options listed above help with managing their symptoms. If you have questions about stimulants or want to learn more about your other treatment options, get in touch with us at Done today.‍