ADHD: Treatment

Treatment for ADHD is usually a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.

Psychotherapeutic: A variety of behavioral and psychotherapeutic methods have proven successful in managing the symptoms of ADHD. Parent-child interaction therapy, which focuses on teaching parents how to cultivate desired behaviors while minimizing the impulsive or inattentive ones, is often used effectively. Parent training is another that uses the family to address the symptoms, while cognitive behavioral therapy teaches a child to control his behaviors by understanding how his thoughts and feelings influence them. Close consultation with your child’s teachers can help him succeed despite his disorder. Tools such as a daily report card that targets desired behaviors can be effective. Social skills training may help him behave more appropriately with other children, and family therapy can help parents and siblings manage the stress created by the ADHD child’s needs and behavior.

Pharmacological: The most common medications prescribed for ADHD are psychostimulants. The two most widely used are known, generically, as methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine, which go by brand names like Ritalin and Adderall. What these drugs stimulate is the brain’s production of certain neurotransmitters that seem to activate the brain’s centers of attention and impulse control. They serve to focus the attention and curb the impulsivity and hyperactivity of kids with ADHD. Stimulant medications can have significant side effects, such as headaches, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Some children are prescribed other, non-stimulant drugs approved for treatment of ADHD if the side effects of stimulants are troublesome or excessive.

Many children will outgrow their diagnosis by the time they reach young adulthood, as symptoms wane or disappear. Others continue to have symptoms that are seriously impairing as adults. Inattentive and impulsive symptoms are more likely to persist into adulthood than motor hyperactivity.