Re: Is it necessary to take medication for ADHD/ADD
In a word, no, it's not always necessary to take medication for ADHD. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, and your expectations for symptom relief, there are a number of things you can do short of medication to improve your function.
That said, many of us cannot operate at a level that we feel is functional without medication. Deciding on whether to take medication is a cost/benefit decision, and obviously most of us do what we can to avoid side effects.
As to ADHD meds causing side effects, it's important to note that *all* medication has side effects. Anytime you take any medication (including such innocuous natural supplements and treatments like tea or fish oil), you run the risk of negative side effects. The cost/benefit analysis required of any med is something we all have to live with.
As for what you can do to avoid meds? Start with "clean living." Make sure your diet is healthy and consistent. Avoid any sort of processed foods and don't overeat. Exercise regularly, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night on a consistent schedule (i.e. don't stay up late on the weekends or short yourself with less than 7 hours sleep, and don't sleep more than 8 hours, even if your schedule permits it). You may also consider what many feel are "natural" supplements for treatment of ADHD, especially lots of animal-based Omega 3s (so fish oil or similar supplements).
I would be extremely dubious of ADHD remedies marketed at "natural" or "wholistic." These are not evaluated by the FDA or any other standards agency, and usually tout unpublished or self-published studies as proof of their efficacy. These are usually overpriced vitamins at best, and potentially dangerous at worst.
Best of luck.