Why are stimulants used to treat ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Stimulant medications treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by balancing our brain chemicals, helping us to function better. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) acknowledges that it sounds odd to prescribe a stimulant medication to someone who is hyperactive. According to NIMH, stimulants calm people with ADHD, including very active children. When a person takes a stimulant medication regularly, the medications reduce the symptoms of ADHD. When the medication is stopped, the symptoms return.

Some of the symptoms that stimulants improve include:

- increasing the ability to focus, stay organized, and plan ahead
- reducing impulsive behavior
- improving relationships with others

Overall, stimulants are used to treat ADHD because they work well. Treatment with medication, especially when combined with behavior therapies, is the most effective treatment for ADHD.

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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.