When we talk about ADHD, specifically what makes it either better or worse, we are on pretty shaky ground scientifically. There is currently no scientific consensus on what actually causes ADHD.
It seems likely that genetics play an important role, and managing ADHD is also all about managing environmental factors – how you organize your day and the tasks you must complete. For this reason, things like daily planners, calendars, regimes, and schedules are the tools for living as normal a life as possible when you have ADHD.
It might be better to talk about what makes ADHD worse, as this is much more widely reported anecdotally. This is simply because people notice when their symptoms get worse, and it’s normally possible to trace the cause.
It is often said that you are what you eat, and it seems likely that diet plays a role too. However, the most important thing to get right is the environment that you live in and interact with. Next Level Daily, a company that produces daily planners, a luxury notebook, and a habit tracker, say that time management products like planners and diaries are the best tools to have in the arsenal when dealing with ADHD. You cannot do anything about the genetic factors, after all.
The Age Groups of ADHD
Since so much of ADHD is clearly related to environmental factors, it is worth mentioning the importance of age. Why? Because environment – how you interact with the world and what you need to do – naturally changes as you progress through life. For this reason, we often speak of childhood ADHD, teenage ADHD, and adult ADHD.
For example, children have few responsibilities ADHD could interfere with, and they usually have parents or guardians to care for them. Teenagers are in school and need to cope with that challenges that can be difficult for those with ADHD. Finally, an adult must navigate all the responsibilities of adulthood.
Furthermore, age is important when it comes to diagnoses. A person diagnosed in childhood has a much better chance of laying the groundwork for a successful school and work career.
The Worsening Factors
So, here follows some of the things that definitely do make ADHD worse. Seeing as the majority of these are environmental factors, we will focus on adult ADHD.
Lack of Exercise
There is a scarcely an ailment out there – except perhaps muscle or tissue injuries – that will not be improved by getting some exercise. The benefits are myriad, and better brain function is one of them.
Of course, you can go for a meal, but it is often tempting for those with ADHD to eat out often, simply because making dinner can be difficult and requires mental effort. However, plan it out, follow steps, and this is all good training for coping with ADHD.
Your living room, kitchen, office, whatever – if it is messy and disordered, you have a constant anxiety-causing reminder that there are things to do and not enough order to do them effectively.
Many people with ADHD take a while to get the right meds, as there are several different options. You should always be frank and honest with your doctor and expect some trial and error first. Other meds, such as those prescribed for serious depression, can also make ADHD worse. It is pretty tough, but you owe it to yourself to work hard at arriving at the right treatment.
Because environmental factors are so important, your experience of ADHD is very much in your hands. Take to care to avoid what you should, do what you should, and consume what you should. Your environment is important, and it’s your environment.