How is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treated?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be treated in three ways: psychosocial counseling, medications alone, or a combination of both. Studies have shown that medications alone, or medications combined with psychosocial counseling, are nearly equally effective. They also show that psychosocial counseling alone is not nearly as effective as the other two.

Stimulants are among the safest of all medications used in all of medicine, let alone psychiatry. When used by an experienced clinician, the success rate of stimulant use for ADHD is 70 percent to 80 percent.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is treated in a number of ways. Medicine is one type of treatment that can make it easier for people with ADHD to pay attention, focus, and sit still or wait their turn. Along with medicine, there's also another kind of treatment called behavioral therapy that can help people with ADHD control the way they act. With behavioral therapy, people learn strategies to deal with their ADHD, like learning how to stop and think before they act, or how to organize their stuff so they’re less forgetful.

Studies show that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is best treated with strategies that aim at reducing symptoms while also giving the person with ADHD new behaviors and skills to help compensate for the condition in various settings and personal relationships. Treatment strategies might be tried one by one, or in combination.

The only cure for ADHD is time. The vast amounts of people with ADHD grow out of it, although it can be a slow process. However, many treatments for it exist. In the behavioral realm, ADHD coaching teaches one how to compensate for the cognitive challenge, like using techniques to organize tasks or write down everything that must be remembered. Other behaviors that help are cardiovascular exercise, proper sleep, and a diet that avoids artificial preservatives and colors, and probably excessive simple sugars. There are a host of pharmaceutical treatments, the vast majority of which function as stimulating agents, enhancing one's adrenaline and dopamine. These include amphetamines, Ritalin, dopamine medication like Nuvigil/Provigil, Strattera and Wellbutrin. They work to excite the area of the brain responsible for focus and attention. Finally, there are natural medications that certainly are weaker than the pharmaceuticals, but also less prone to generating side effects. These agents include fish/flax oil (omega-3 fatty acids), L-theanine, phenylalanine, ginseng, tyrosine, N-acetylcysteine, caffeine, and Saint John's Wort to name a few. A mental health professional and a primary care provider can help with diagnosing and treating ADHD, so consult them.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be treated in many different ways. Behavioral therapy helps while the person is doing it but the benefits decrease once out of the treatment. Combining behavioral therapy with stimulant medication seems to be the best treatment, but many people do not feel they have time for the therapy part or cannot find an experienced ADHD therapist they like. In addition to stimulant medications, non-stimulants and some antidepressants are used. Talk to your doctor about what symptoms of ADHD have the most negative effect on your life in order to decide what the right treatment for you is.

People try all sorts of treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including special diets, hypnosis, acupuncture, and more. Right now, the best treatment for ADHD is a combination of ADHD medication and behavioral treatments.

If you are interested in learning more about medication for ADHD, talk to your doctor. To get started with behavioral treatment, locate a therapist that specializes in ADHD treatment. Plenty of psychologists and licensed counselors devote their days to helping children and adults with ADHD. Ideally, you will seek both medical and behavioral treatments. Stay with them. Consistent treatment seems to offer the best help in reducing the symptoms of ADHD.

Dr. Lara Honos-Webb, PhD
Psychology Specialist

ADHD can be treated by coaching in addition to or in some cases in place of standard medication treatments. 

What is Coaching? For kids with ADHD I recommend coaching for both the child and the parents. Coaching can take your family life into an entirely new direction. Small shifts in response to ADD behaviors can make huge differences in your results. Parents can channel high energy intensity by teaching kids to label, feel, and release emotions rather than acting them out. Kids can learn positive self talk and gain motivation and confidence.

For adult ADD Coaching, a coach can help you set goals and hold you accountable to those goals. A coach will help you predict obstacles and see those not as a sign to turn around but rather a challenge to figure out how to get past.

Coaching can help you translate your symptoms into gifts. One of the main symptoms of ADHD is inability to follow directions. I translate this “symptom” into a need to create one’s own structure. What we call a failure to follow others’ directions, can be seen as an essential quality of leadership when it is understood as a need to impact the environment and change it rather than conform to it.

Similarly, recklessness as a symptom looks like a tendency to take courses of action that are inadvisable. However, when translated into a need, it can be seen as a capacity to take courses of action that are inadvisable.

Not only is that leadership, it can be seen as a necessity for those who are trying to achieve extraordinary results. What is advisable is a repetition of the cumulative learning of others. To be willing to step into the inadvisable is to separate yourself from the herd—recklessness as path toward being a pioneer and finding your own path.

For adult individual coaching, I "hold up the mirror" to the one-of-a-kind unique never-before-seen talents that you have to offer the world so you never again doubt your own gifts. Sometimes your gifts are so big, others are shy to tell you about them or just downright intimidated by you. Sometimes your gifts have gone decades without being noticed because they weren't the sort of talents that got you good grades. I've seen people with open hearts, wicked senses of humor, geniuses for intimacy, and arrestingly original problem solvers who just got in trouble at school for the very gifts that now unleashed can change and heal the world.

Dr. Rossi Davis
Psychology Specialist

There are multiple treatment modalities used to manage the symptoms of (ADHD) attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder both in the adult and child patient population. In addition to treatment with stimulant and non-stimulant medication, nutritional therapy in the form supplementation with omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals such as B-vitamin, Magnesium, Iron, Zink, hormones such as Melatonin and DHEA and herbs such as ginkgo biloba, ginseng,to name a few are also being used and their effectiveness researched. Some other forms of therapy include Cognitive Behavioral Modification Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, and Neurofeedback.

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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.