Alternative Treatments for ADHD


"Why don't doctors offer alternatives to treat ADHD, such as diet, before prescribing strong stimulant medications? Since starting his treatment, my son's behavior and appetite have changed."

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

The reason that medications are used, rather than special diets or food supplements, is that these alternative treatments do not work. For instance, the Feingold diet was first proposed 25 years ago. Extensive research showed that the theory and the diet do not work for individuals with ADHD.

Another thought: One side effect of stimulant medication is loss of appetite. Another side effect — if the dose is too high — is zombie-like behavior. Your son appears to have had both side effects. His physician should have changed from the use of stimulants to another family of medications. You are correct: No one should have to live with such side effects.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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