View Full Version : Apart from exercise, sleep and ADHD medications, what improves executive functionUng?


Obsessive_ADD
10-29-16, 11:41 PM
Is there anything that has shown some hope to improve executive functioning besides traditional ADHD medications, adequate sleep, exercise and maintaining blood sugar levels?

I've heard methyl-b12 has helped some folks with ASD, are there any other supplements or anything showing improvement in some people but may not have undergone the rigerous studies for it to become common knowledge to doctors? In my case, the effects of methyl b12 treatment were profound but only temporary (a couple days) despite 50,000 MCG injections!

Greyhound1
10-30-16, 12:14 AM
Some seem to find help with meditation and practicing mindfulness.

ToneTone
10-30-16, 01:39 AM
Spending time outside in nature is supposedly good for the brain. It has something to do with the way we can give our "executive function" a break when we go to the park.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201306/natures-rx-green-times-effects-adhd

I would say as a life strategy, avoiding too much tedious work is helpful. If at all possible, pay to have tedious work done. I used to spend frustrating hours and hours on completing my tax returns. Now I go online and pay a prepare ... type in info ... the computer software notifies me if I haven't completed something correctly. Worth the money!

Trying to find work that limits tedious work is also helpful as the more we have to fight on our jobs ... the less energy we have for anything else.

I would also say therapy can be excellent because therapy can help us regulate our feelings and deal with frustrations, deal with anxiety and on and on. Anything that improves our lives often improves/reduces the effect of ADHD.

Tone

stef
10-30-16, 03:16 AM
I've read on here that fish oil and B-1 can help.
I take vitamin D now ( since late fall and i will through Feb) because of seasonal affective disorder.

BellaVita
10-30-16, 03:48 AM
Oddly enough when I'm on anxiety medication I can often focus better because the anxiety is no longer clouding my mind.

(As long as not too high a dose - then my brain gets too slow and foggy)

Unmanagable
10-30-16, 10:08 AM
I've found significant relief from various symptoms, not just the adhd related ones, from learning more about healthy nutrition as it applies to my specific needs. Of course I was catapulted into that realization via an emergency medical situation. I've never been one to casually enter into such a major lifestyle adjustment.

Learning more about mucus forming foods, healthy food combining, adequate hydration, the energetic weight of foods, and the path they take to get to my innards were all major game changers for me.

Adjusting my consumption based on what I discovered, and what I felt I could live with after knowing the truth, was the only option I felt I had, especially after not being able to tolerate meds long term.

Daily breathing techniques, fun accessible exercise, mindfulness, nature, music, having sacred silent space and purposeful daily rituals also help support my functioning levels and my response-ability potential.

aeon
10-30-16, 12:16 PM
nicotine

caffeine (to some degree)


Cheers,
Ian

dvdnvwls
10-30-16, 12:29 PM
For me, one of the major themes in improving executive function is to work at arranging my life to keep myself out of "crisis mode" as much as possible.

Once things have... ummm... hit the fan ;) , it takes me a very long time to recover, and my executive functions are the first thing to leave and the last to come back, because they're fragile at the best of times.

In short, I try to keep my head far above water because I'm a poor swimmer.

mildadhd
10-30-16, 12:42 PM
Consistently healthy emotional environments/relationships are decisive factors in promoting the development of self-regulation (aka executive function).


G

john2100
10-30-16, 12:59 PM
I think that one of the adhd experts pointed this out (friend,relationship) as a huge factor in success for people with adhd. Can't remember who,but the idea is that only being around positive people that you like and working on anything with this people, will increase your chance of success and reduction of adhd symptoms at that time.

It probably has to do something with feel good chemicals in our brain, that basically work like adhd meds. When we are around people we like , our brain has higher concentration of those chemicals.

I can say that from my experience, working on anything with one other person ,from cleaning,organizing or actual paid work, reduces or almost completely eliminated adhd symptoms at that time,but only until they are gone.Still better then nothing.

ToneTone
10-30-16, 01:41 PM
I can see where being around good friends and good people can make a difference. One, you have access to these other brains for executive function. These days I share as many important decisions as I can with friends in order to get their brain help.

Plus, the support of friends can lower anxiety and increase good feelings ... both of which help clear the mind for clear thinking.

Good friends also help with de-shaming us ... I tell a friend about some ADHD mishap that I'm embarrassed ab out and the friend still accepts me. Helps me to relax.

Tone

mildadhd
10-30-16, 01:53 PM
I think there are many top ADHD researchers like Dr. Panksepp, Dr. Neufeld , Dr. Grandin, and many others, that recognize that healthy friendships/family relationships stimulate positive emotional feelings that promote the development of self-regulation (aka, executive function).

Not sure why it is taking so long for others to recognize positive (and negative) feeling emotional systems within our brains' and the emotional environmental factors involved in overall healthy brain development/maturation?

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3KanfLqKXYg


G

mildadhd
10-30-16, 02:24 PM
I've found significant relief from various symptoms, not just the adhd related ones, from learning more about healthy nutrition as it applies to my specific needs. Of course I was catapulted into that realization via an emergency medical situation. I've never been one to casually enter into such a major lifestyle adjustment.

Learning more about mucus forming foods, healthy food combining, adequate hydration, the energetic weight of foods, and the path they take to get to my innards were all major game changers for me.

Adjusting my consumption based on what I discovered, and what I felt I could live with after knowing the truth, was the only option I felt I had, especially after not being able to tolerate meds long term.

Daily breathing techniques, fun accessible exercise, mindfulness, nature, music, having sacred silent space and purposeful daily rituals also help support my functioning levels and my response-ability potential.

Hi Unmanageable.

Always appreciate you reminding me of the gut/stomach bodily factors involved.

I am sure that one day I will understand better biologically/physiologically how feelings systems within our bodies, are interconnected with the emotional feelings within our brains. It is very possible that You and some ADDForum members already know and I appreciate your patients as I learn a little bit more everyday.

G

john2100
10-30-16, 03:37 PM
"Not sure why it is taking so long for others to recognize positive (and negative) feeling emotional systems within our brains' and the emotional environmental factors involved in overall healthy brain development/maturation?"

I don't think the problem is with recognizing it, the problem is finding this kind of friends and keeping them around. I don't think I ever told one friend about my meds or adhd. But I can see tremendous difference in adhd symptoms.

I would say, if there was a medication that could replicate that state of mind while I have these friends around ,that would sound like a perfect cure for me.
It's that perfect state of mind where you are note over exited , depressed, bored and your brain just works at its best.

What is interesting is that live-in girlfriend or a roommate wouldn't have that kind of effect , long term effect. At the beginning yes, but after while I couldn't see that much difference in adhd symptoms.

Greyhound1
10-30-16, 03:45 PM
I would say things like love, happiness, friendships, rewarding experiences, no stress, anxiety etc. probably contribute to better mental function.

john2100
10-30-16, 03:51 PM
I would say things like love, happiness, friendships, rewarding experiences, no stress, anxiety etc. probably contribute to better mental function.

for me , executive function as well.

20thcenturyfox
10-30-16, 06:42 PM
It seems to be well-established that psychosocial interventions plus medication yield better results than medication alone for adult ADHD. There are 2 or 3 different programs now with a proven track record specifically for adult ADHD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633586/

I've been meaning to start a thread on this treatment specifically asking who has tried it, and what was their experience.

FinallyDxed!
10-30-16, 06:48 PM
-Meditation
-Mindfulness
-Anything that reduces anxiety for you (deep breaths, nature, animals, happy thoughts, babies, music hehe)
-SSRIs, Tenex, other non-traditional "ADHD meds"

Greyhound1
10-30-16, 09:10 PM
for me , executive function as well.

When I said better mental function, I was meaning it to include executive function and other mental functions. Just wanted to clarify.:)

aeon
10-30-16, 09:34 PM
bupropion hydrochloride/Wellbutrin alone at 450mg/daily will clear most of my brain fog, but I'm not sure if it does much for my executive function.


Cheers,
Ian

Unmanagable
10-30-16, 09:36 PM
Hi Unmanageable.

Always appreciate you reminding me of the gut/stomach bodily factors involved.

I am sure that one day I will understand better biologically/physiologically how feelings systems within our bodies, are interconnected with the emotional feelings within our brains. It is very possible that You and some ADDForum members already know and I appreciate your patients as I learn a little bit more everyday.

G

We're all here learning together, my friend. Gratitude for your part in the learning journey as well. Any relief I experience continues to amaze me (and at times, equally frustrate me). I wish I could say I totally (or just even a little in some cases) understand all of the ins and outs of the processes and such.

It feels like more of an 'innerstanding' after trying various methods (most of which were great examples of what NOT to do) for quite some time and then rolling with what worked the best, no matter how "out there" it seemed to me or others, especially after having tried the methods most widely suggested, studied, and understood and having those options worsen my state of being.

In either direction, it's pretty much a crap shoot daily, no matter how well a chosen method works, from my experiences. Wrenches come flying at us from all directions at different speeds. I wish us all well in our pursuits of wellness and balance.

MickeMouseFan
11-02-16, 09:48 AM
For myself, computer games helps a lot.

Lumosity and Dota 2. I wouldn't say that Lumosity is fun, it is repetitive mental exercise. Dota 2 is fun. I've only played Dota 2 for about a month, and Lumosity since March. I feel that Dota 2 has significantly improved my focus and concentration. I don't know how it achieve this, but it has been noticeable. I only started playing Dota 2 because my friends played it, not because I thought it would help with mental faculties.

What the computer games help to achieve: faster thinking speed (processing speed), better working memory, improved focus, prolonged focus and concentration, reduction in careless mistakes.

What the computer games don't fix: disorganisation, untidiness, impulsivity, racing thoughts, prioritizing.

MickeMouseFan
11-02-16, 10:26 AM
I can't edit my posts after 30 minutes, I guess because I am new here.

But I wanted to add this:

I DO NOT recommend playing Lumosity or Dota 2 (possibly other games close to bed time). In the early days of Lumosity, I used to play before bed, and then found myself waking up at the end of every dream (roughly 10 times a night), which left me feeling tired.

Puzzled about this strange new problem, I googled, and came up with this: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/researchers_identify_brain_differences_linked_to_i nsomnia

Anyway, I stopped playing Lumosity after 6.00 pm, and the problem went away. Then when I started playing Dota 2, I played before bed, and I started waking up multiple times again! So Dota 2 was also doing something to my brain. Now I don't play any games after 6.00 pm, and no longer have this problem. I normally to go bed at 9.30pm or 10 pm.

ADDon1
11-05-16, 02:04 PM
-Qigong (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong) (can't do without it, it has tremendous health benefits for me, as well mental as physical)
-Meditation
-Energy work (in a spiritual sense)

FinallyDxed!
11-05-16, 05:26 PM
I like your quote!! "I would not for a second trade the pain of awareness for the comfort of denial." ~Emily Moran Barwick

MickeMouseFan
11-05-16, 10:28 PM
I note with interest that in this thread and on this site, very few people suggest exercising the brain as a way to improve executive functioning. Why is that? There is a common phrase: 'use it or lose it'. People would rather ingest a magic pill than give their brain a workout, in the manner for which it is designed?

Almost in all instances, medication is firstly suggested as the solution, and then meditation, relationships etc. Whilst I believe that medication can help, it is also a blunt instrument - does it improve memory, attention or processing speed? Medication also does not take into account the decline of mental faculties due to ageing. Is medication at say, 20 years old, still effective at 50?

I think that learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument, or even learning to draw or paint would be a significant step forward to improving executive functioning. At the very least, medication in conjunction with mental exercise would contribute more to improving the brain.

Also, as a fun way to exercise my brain, when I am watching a Youtube video that has a person talking, I watch the video at 1.5 or 2 times the normal speed. This means that my brain is forced to think quicker. For anyone who is interested, click on the little gear icon at the bottom right of the video to change the playing speed.

sarahsweets
11-06-16, 08:20 AM
I note with interest that in this thread and on this site, very few people suggest exercising the brain as a way to improve executive functioning. Why is that? There is a common phrase: 'use it or lose it'. People would rather ingest a magic pill than give their brain a workout, in the manner for which it is designed?

Almost in all instances, medication is firstly suggested as the solution, and then meditation, relationships etc. Whilst I believe that medication can help, it is also a blunt instrument - does it improve memory, attention or processing speed? Medication also does not take into account the decline of mental faculties due to ageing. Is medication at say, 20 years old, still effective at 50?

I think that learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument, or even learning to draw or paint would be a significant step forward to improving executive functioning. At the very least, medication in conjunction with mental exercise would contribute more to improving the brain.

Also, as a fun way to exercise my brain, when I am watching a Youtube video that has a person talking, I watch the video at 1.5 or 2 times the normal speed. This means that my brain is forced to think quicker. For anyone who is interested, click on the little gear icon at the bottom right of the video to change the playing speed.

Brain training programs have been proven to be relatively ineffective in helping one's brain other than helping you do well on those games. Luminosity was actually investigated and fined for false advertising. The brain is not a muscle so working it out isnt going to do much of anything. The reason meds are a first line treatment is because they are proven to work with evidence. I dont believe meds are the only way to treat adhd though.

ginniebean
11-06-16, 02:50 PM
i don't know if it improves executive fumctioning but it does improve functioning. Routine. It's the biggest help for me.

Little Missy
11-06-16, 03:51 PM
Really good sex. Like the one pant leg off hurry up fun and fast kind.

Little Missy
11-06-16, 04:55 PM
i don't know if it improves executive fumctioning but it does improve functioning. Routine. It's the biggest help for me.

Having a routine IS the way to keep things under functional control.

That reads so advice column-ish.

MickeMouseFan
11-06-16, 06:52 PM
Brain training programs have been proven to be relatively ineffective in helping one's brain other than helping you do well on those games. Luminosity was actually investigated and fined for false advertising. The brain is not a muscle so working it out isnt going to do much of anything. The reason meds are a first line treatment is because they are proven to work with evidence. I dont believe meds are the only way to treat adhd though.

Lumosity was fined for stating that their games can prevent (or improve) a host of mental faculty problems, without supporting evidence. I think that they deserved it. But I would like to see evidence to support the argument that playing mind games does not prevent (or improve) a host of mental faculty problems. A study to prove or disprove this would costs tens of millions of dollars and run for decades, so is highly unlikely.

Lumosity games are boring and repetitive. That is most probably why Lumosity recommend that their users play for 15 minutes daily - any longer timeframes would turn their users off. And therein lies the problem. In my experience, 15 minutes a day is woefully insufficient for any tangible benefit. The internet is littered with people saying that they only play the 3 free games a day (usually 2 minutes per game), and then saying that Lumosity doesn't work. I play at least an hour a day, so I am in a better position to judge it's effectiveness.

If I remember correctly, the studies that "prove" mind games to be ineffective asked their small sample of volunteers to use Lumosity for 15 minutes a day, for a few weeks. By their very nature, these studies are shallow, and the outcome are shallow. I would take the results of the studies more seriously if they got their volunteers to use Lumosity for at least an hour a day, for 6 months.

Sure, medication works. But how can people dismiss mental exercises (does not have to be Lumosity) as a way of improving mental functioning? To myself, it is the most logical thing in the world. How can learning a new language, chess, calculus or physics NOT improve a range of mental faculties? How can playing mind games that challenge your mental faculties not improve your mental faculties? Even getting better at Lumosity games (or anything else) means that your mental faculties have improved.

I will stop here, because I don't want to sound like a Lumosity shill (I prefer the term 'mind game' shill ;)). But from my short time in this forum, I get the very strong impression that people don't want overcome their add by mentally challenging themselves.

dvdnvwls
11-06-16, 07:43 PM
It's not that people don't want to... it's the fact that it doesn't actually work. Yes you get better at the game - but who cares? You don't get better at the things you need to do.

sarahsweets
11-07-16, 09:39 AM
from:

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/alternative-therapies/experts-weigh-in-can-train-the-brain-games-help-kids-with-adhd-and-executive-functioning-issues



Do “train the brain” games have any specific benefit?

Sean Smith: “Train the brain” games appear to do one thing well: They allow users to improve their efficiency in the task at hand. Research consistently shows that “gamers” produce short-term, highly specific improvement in the task directly associated with the game.

But—and this is critical—studies have also consistently found no generalized improvements. That means no improvement to the user’s overall memory, attention, intelligence or other cognitive abilities.

So, if the goal is to remember the order in which a series of shapes were shown in a certain game, great. “Train the brain” games offer this benefit. But if you expect those skills to apply to organizing a schedule or creating a list of steps for doing an assignment, you’ll be disappointed.

Ellen Braaten: There are studies that show some measure of success in the area of working memory. But it’s hard to measure whether these gains go beyond the specific goal of the game.

Video games have been presented as a way to practice problem solving, memory and focusing skills. Any game helps anyone learn problem-solving skills. But that doesn’t mean it’s a treatment for ADHD. There really isn’t evidence that playing video games will be helpful for kids with ADHD.
Yes this refers to kids but the ideas are still based on what you are talking about. This is one of the thousands of links I found with a simple google search.

Cyllya
11-07-16, 11:52 PM
It always frustrates me when things that are normal and healthy are treated as an ADHD treatment or EF improvement or other psychiatric treatment. I think those things should be considered default. If you're doing those things wrong, it will likely make your ADHD symptoms worse (or otherwise decrease your quality of life), but doing them the normal healthy way usually won't get rid of your ADHD. Plus, if you're doing them wrong, there's a probably a reason for it. (The reason might before be ADHD.)

For example, getting a normal adequate amount of sleep is just normal. If you're not sleeping well, that could be making your ADHD worse, among other problems, but if you're already getting enough sleep, that's not doing anything. Once you're getting enough sleep, adding additional sleep won't help. If you're not getting enough sleep, it's probably not just because you haven't seen "sleep" on a list of alternative treatments.

But from my short time in this forum, I get he very strong impression that people don't want overcome their add by mentally challenging themselves.

I think mental exercise is like bodily exercise in that the real benefits come from having an active lifestyle. Exercising for x minutes every day while being otherwise "sedentary" is probably better than nothing, but it's woefully inadequate because it's a drop in the bucket compared to what you need. (Even when x=60.)

I don't feel like signing up for Luminosity just to see what kind of games they have, but from what I've seen of their advertisements, they look like the sort of thing you'd find in a Professor Layton game, so I'm not too impressed.

I don't regularly do anything specifically for the purpose of brain exercise, but besides having a job as a programmer, I also have hobbies involving programming, playing regular video games (including Sudoku, Professor Layton games, some other puzzle games, some RPGs, etc.), discussing psychology, and illustrating. On the rare occasions that I can muster the energy, I try to read nonfiction books, write informative articles for my website, or operate a small retail business. I used to work on translating the story content of Japanese novels and video games while teaching myself Japanese, but I had to give it up because it was too time-consuming.

In fact, I sometimes play Sudoku over and over again for hours at a time precisely because of my executive dysfunction. (After a while, I think it might as well count as both a brain exercise game and a form of meditation.)

Honestly, having ADHD makes normal adult responsibilities pretty mentally challenging. It's like the state of being a grown-up is a convoluted real-time puzzle game that is too hard for me.

Alas, in spite of all this exercise, I have yet to overcome my ADHD or other psychiatric conditions. Is Luminosity or any other brain-training software actually so superior to normal thinking that it is worth sacrificing an hour per day that could be spent on other activities (plus the subscription fee)? Having one less hour per day would probably result in a significant loss of functioning for many of us.

I have no trouble believing that inadequate mental exercise will probably cause a person problems, similar to things like sleep, healthy diet, bodily exercise, etc.... But I don't think that adding an hour per day of a boring repetitive activity is going to be a substantial increase in the amount of mental exercise most people are getting.

Shamindo
11-13-16, 12:42 AM
I'm very sensitive to stimuli, things like television, too much internet, loud music, shoppin malls, eratic people, movie theatres will trigger symptoms. I need calm around me. my home environment is pretty quiet. I prefer audio books over a movie, books over loud music, and a walk over excitement..routine is huge.

aeon
11-13-16, 04:43 AM
Really good sex. Like the one pant leg off hurry up fun and fast kind.

Best thing I'll read on this forum for the rest of the year. :p

And thanks for a smile wide enough that my face hurts. ;)


Hoo-Ha!
Ian

hcstymie
11-20-16, 05:49 PM
I would do a little research on motivation and performance. Setting goals. Chunking bigger tasks into smaller ones. Reward after reaching smaller goals. Preventing yourself from feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Sometimes it's better to stop at a certain point than to keep going. So you feel like you have made progress but don't feel burnt out from doing to much. Prioritization of things you need to do. Keep a list of things to be done so you don't have to recall everything and prioritize on the fly every day. Take brakes to be able to refocus.

Also manage the little things that can get in the way and distract you. I would eat before studying in college because I knew hunger was a big distraction for me as an example. I also put my keys, wallet, and phone in the same place every day so I don't waste time worrying about where I put them. Set up auto pay on my bills so I don't have to worry about them etc.

I personally have found that fish oil helps me. I take Lovazza due to high triglycerides and cholesterol. Lovazza is highly concentrated and purified fish oil (concentrated many more times than the over the counter stuff). I did notice that the days that I forgot to take it the night before I had a harder time concentrating. Not sure how much of it was affecting my brain itself or working with the Adderall I was on. Had seen it said that high fats can cause a reabsorpsion of the medication and make it more effective and last longer.

Experien
06-25-17, 01:59 PM
I found intensive studying helps me think clearly and speak better. I had done my admission exam into pshycology and I studied like 3/4 hours a day for 15 days and I felt more aware of the world, really felt smarter.

P.S
I had the best grade in 50 students and got admitted :)