Is there anything to do for ADD besides taking medications?

Is there anything that can be done for ADD besides taking medications?  I’m really not a fan of jumping right into medication if I can do other things to help first, especially because of the cost.

Excellent question! 

The key to managing ADD, whether you’re taking medication or not, is developing good time management and organizational skills.  I know – that’s like saying, “just eat right” or “cut down on your stress” – but there are some concrete steps you can take to achieve this goal:

  • Make lists and schedules to keep track of what you need to achieve – and stick to them
  • Keep a large calendar with important deadlines in a central location in your apartment or dorm
  • Keep your desk clutter-free
  • If you’re studying in a library, sit in a carrel-style desk or a room with no windows
  • Pay attention to your “personal clock” and tackle your toughest tasks at your peak performance time
  • Break down large projects into manageable chunks, and assign each one its own deadline
  • Throw your cell phone in Mirror Lake!

OK, I was speaking metaphorically on that last one, but you know what I mean.  You MUST turn off the texts, tweets, tumbls, check-ins, youtubes, IM’s, status updates, skypes and gmails when you’re studying if you hope to get anything done.

Some research has shown that Omega-3 fatty acids and drinking green tea can improve attention and memory.  The CogMed Working Memory Training program has also been shown to be effective in improving attention and memory, but it is pretty expensive. 

Luckly you have some really good – and free! – services right here on campus that can help.

Psychotherapy and coaching can be very useful in managing ADD by helping you to learn behavioral strategies, identify and eliminate avoidant coping strategies, and establish good self-care.  As an enrolled OSU student, you can get free individual psychotherapy services from Counseling & Consultation Service (CCS).

CCS also offers a support group called Living and Succeeding with ADHD that “provides a supportive atmosphere in which students with diagnosed attention and concentration difficulties can ‘pool their resources’ to cooperatively help each other learn and utilize new strategies for setting goals and achieving objectives.”  The group is facilitated by Robert M. Bennett; you can call 614-292-5766 or email Rob at to learn more about the group.

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) assists students with academic services and accommodations, and their counselors are available to meet with students on a one-to-one basis for assistance with time management, study strategies, and advocacy skills.  ODS doesn’t provide diagnostic testing for students who suspect that they have a ADD or other learning disabilities, but students can speak to a disability counselor who will make referrals to other resources within and outside of the OSU community. 

If you have any questions about whether or not you may have ADD, you can always make an appointment to see one of our doctors at Student Health.  We can evaluate your symptoms, refer you for appropriate testing and help you manage your symptoms, with medication or without!    

Bong Joo Hwang, Ph.D.
Counseling and Consultation Service
The Ohio State University

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University