How are children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder treated?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Children with ADHD can get better with treatment, but there is no cure. There are three basic types of treatment:

  • Medication - Several medications can help. The most common types are called stimulants. Medications help children focus, learn, and stay calm. Sometimes medications cause side effects, such as sleep problems or stomachaches. Your child may need to try a few medications to see which one works best. It's important that you and your doctor watch your child closely while he or she is taking medicine.
  • Therapy - There are different kinds of therapy. Behavioral therapy can help teach children to control their behavior so they can do better at school and at home.
  • Medication and therapy combined - Many children do well with both medication and therapy.

This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD

There are multiple accepted ways to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. You can try a therapy approach, a medication approach or a combination of both. 

For parents who are reluctant to start medication, trying a therapy approach can be very helpful. Therapy can truly help the behaviors while giving parents an active way to help their child. You must be consistent at home with the therapist’s instructions. If what you are hearing sounds difficult, ask if there is another option. Doing a second choice option consistently will work better than doing a first choice option inconsistently.

If you do consider medication, there are many choices. The most effective of these are the stimulant medications. Other options are non-stimulants, some antidepressants and some blood pressure medications. Which medication your pediatrician and you choose for your child will likely depend on the ADHD symptoms that are most bothersome to your child's life. While the stimulant medications have been shown to be most effective, you may choose to try another medication depending on your child's symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.