Being without insurance doesn't have to mean you can't make progress against ADHD. Here are some specific ideas to keep the cost of treatment as low as possible:
- The two least expensive ways to get diagnosed are either through a primary care physician that you are seeing for another reason or, sometimes, through a research study (these are hard to come by). In the former case, make sure the physician prescribes generic medications, if you are going that route, to minimize cost.
- Sleep deprivation is a huge factor in the severity of ADHD symptoms. Create a sleep routine that gets you 8 hours of sleep a night. Tricks for this include: turning off all computers, televisions and interactive electronics an hour before bedtime; making sure you stop all stimulants (including coffee and tea) early enough in the day; listening to soft music; reading a book; create a routine that your body can adapt to. This is FREE and very effective.
- Exercise also helps ADHD symptoms such as focus and mood stability (for a distinct period of time after exercising). It has also been shown to be very effective in managing depression. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of sweat-inducing exercise a day (or at least 4-5 times a week)
- Fish oil pills improve focus for those with ADHD. There are less expensive brands - just make sure to get one that is pharmaceutical grade to avoid Mercury. Dr. Hallowell recommends up to 5,000 mg a day for adults and up to 2,500 mg a day for children. Check with your pharmacist or doctor for interactions with other medications (fish oil and blood thinners don't go well together, for example)
- There are many books to help you establish new structures to help manage ADHD. You can get them from your library for free or used on Amazon for a few dollars. Two of my favorites include ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life and More Attention/Less Deficit.
- Invest in an organization system that works for you. Paper planners are fine if you can keep them with you (carry in your purse, perhaps). Many people use their smart phones. The reminders you can set and lists you can keep are an important tool for managing ADHD issues. Inexpensive kitchen times can also help you manage time around the house.
- Get a (non-spouse) organization or exercise buddy to help keep you on track with your goals. In the first case, perhaps someone who loves to organize and can help you with your closet, garage or other organizational issue (i.e. help you set up a system that will help you - perhaps with labels). Scheduling regular exercise with a companion can help you stick to it, as well as be fun.
- There are many online resources where you can learn more about ADHD. The best include ADDitude Magazine which also offers a quarterly magazine and forums; ADDclasses.com which has an extensive and good seminar series that you can access in real time for free (and historically for a small fee); and the ADDA seminar series and website. Education about ADHD is critical to improving your situation. The more you know, the better decisions you can make.
- If you can't afford therapy but need some couples work, my course might be a good alternative. It's available in both a recorded and live format and information is here. It's not free, but it's a good value for what it provides.