Non-drug/pharmaceutical treatment for ADD/ADHD

The standard way ADD and ADHD seems to be treated in the US is with central nervous system stimulants. Antidepressants or similar drugs have also been used and show some promise.

Are there any non-drug treatments that show promise? For example, have there been any studies indicating that talking therapy (e.g. Freudian psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy, etc.) alone can significantly help, without popping meds every day? How about ECT or light therapy?

Anecdotes are ok, but I’m especially interested in studies.

This is a request for medical information, not a request for help making a diagnosis or selecting treatment options outside of a doctor or therapist’s supervision.

Sorry, anecdote to follow:

I took Ritalin from around 2nd grade up through 8th grade to control my ADD. It worked wonders on me, when I took it I went from basically a living personification of Calvin at his most hyperactive to a docile, studious, serious fellow. Like flipping a switch, which is a pretty common description. Unfortunately, it also turned me into the stereotypical “Ritalin zombie.” Despite efforts at tweaking the dosage, while my friends would be laughing and carrying on at lunch as kids do, I would just be sitting there with a flat affect, not really enjoying myself. I secretly stopped taking it in 8th grade for this reason. After a couple weeks I confessed to my parents, described why I stopped taking it, and told them that I’d learned more about controlling myself in the past 2 weeks than I had in the past 6 years of being medicated. Since I didn’t want to be on medication my whole life, I figured now was as good a time as any to figure out life without it.

My grades slipped a little bit, but not enough to worry about (went from straight A’s to A’s and a few B’s). In high school I tried medication again for a brief period, but we soon discovered that the benefits weren’t worth it anymore and I discontinued them for good. I consider myself a pretty good example of an ADD/ADHD success story: I started on medication, gradually learned how to control myself as I matured, and was able to go off medication as an adolescent. I don’t even really consider myself to have ADD anymore.

That said, I think the big key to my success is that I had consistent counseling throughout my childhood, from 2nd grade up through the beginning of high school. Talking with a professional about the successes and failures of controlling myself the previous couple weeks really helped me hone the skills I needed to control myself.

They’ve actually found that while medication has a short term positive impact, taking them for long periods of time has no positive impact at all; it is not entirely clear why this is, but it is so.

Conversely, therapy actually has been proven effective in the long term.

So, in short, meds are useful for treating the symptoms temporarily, but therapy is the only thing that actually improves outcomes.

There is a large body of work on neurobiofeedback for ADD. See this google-scholar search. This article presents a particularly overall positive but still somewhat skeptical take.

Anecdotally I have seen it work for some. Not cheap and takes some time investment. Insurance usually is not covering it.

Light therapy has shown to be effective:

Of course it is impossible to do double blind studies on light therapy.

I see what you did th… wait.