Updated 23 August 2016

SA has one of the highest prescription rates for ADHD medication

More focus should be placed on investigating the behaviour of the child and attempting to correct symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes.


South Africa has one of the highest rates of prescribing medication for ADHD – it’s even higher than in the USA! It seems that we haven’t caught up with international trends which are moving away from medication being the first and often the only route taken when ADHD is diagnosed

Around the world there is far greater emphasis on investigating the symptoms of ADHD and finding out why the child behaves as he/she does; and then finding solutions which may, but do not necessarily, include medication.  This is part of an eco-systemic approach which ADHASA has advocated for two decades.  It also involves examining the impact of the child/adult with ADHD on the environment; as well as the effect of the environment on them, and making adjustments to ensure a better fit.   

These adjustments may also include healthy eating, supplements, exercise, counselling and other therapies (including medication for severe cases) which can help a child cope far better with the challenges of ADHD.  They can strongly reduce symptoms of ADHD and sometimes eliminate them completely.  

Healthy eating and supplementation help to raise levels of nutrition and have the child functioning on higher levels all round. In addition ADHASA sees many children improving when put on a diet of eating real food, and avoiding artificial colourants, artificial flavourants & certain antioxidant preservatives.  An unsupportive lifestyle with junk food, high stress levels etc can make symptoms of ADHD very much worse. 

ADHASA has a list of brand-name food products, which are free of the unsuitable additives, available to subscribing members.  

ADHASA has seen thousands of children’s lives turned around simply by changing what they eat.  Impossible children have settled down; socially isolated children have made friends; homework upheaval has calmed down; concentration has improved; and these are just some of the many improvements that we see.

Each child is different.

“It is so rewarding when we bump into early ADHASA members – they often remind us of their desperation and their children’s struggles when we first met, and then they tell us of their children’s success: some are national sports champions; others have graduated ‘cum laude’ as professionals; and there are the top businessmen, and so much more.  All children should have the opportunity to eat real and nutritious food” noted Heather Picton, CEO of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa (ADHASA).

Read more:

Side effects of ADHD medication

ADHD medication FAQ's

More ADHD kids given medication than therapy


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ADHD Expert

Dr. Shabeer Ahmed Jeeva is a specialist psychiatrist who has been practicing child and adult psychiatry for 30 years. He has vast experience in treating ADHD, and is also an ADHD patient himself. Dr. Jeeva trained and practiced in Canada as a child and adult psychiatrist and had lived there for 25 years. He had attended medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland (1970-1976). His professional experience and accreditation includes: Psychiatric residency at the University of Ottawa (Canada), Child Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Ottawa (Canada), Diploma in Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa (Canada), and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Canada.

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