Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Is ADHD?
What is the treatment for ADHD?
ADHD cannot be cured. But many of the symptoms that interfere with functioning and cause distress can be controlled. Treatment for ADHD often includes a combination of medication and various psychosocial therapies.
Medication: Certain medications called stimulants may be used to help control hyperactivity and impulsive behavior and increase attention span. Commonly used stimulants include:
Sometimes stimulant drugs have worrisome side effects for children or may be inappropriate if there is untreated drug abuse. In that case, nonstimulant medications such as Intuniv or Strattera may be prescribed for children with ADHD who are older than 6.
Psychosocial therapies: These are treatment approaches that focus on the behavioral, psychological, social, and work/school problems associated with the illness. Psychosocial therapies that may be used for ADHD include:
Special education: Special education is a type of education that is structured to meet a child's unique educational needs. Children with ADHD generally benefit most from a highly structured environment and use of routines.
Behavior modification: Behavior modification includes strategies for supporting good behavior and decreasing a child's problem behavior.
Psychotherapy (counseling): Psychotherapy can help a child or adult with ADHD learn better ways to handle their emotions and frustration. It can also help improve their self-esteem. Counseling may help family members better understand the child or adult with ADHD.
Social skills training: Social skills training can help a child learn new behaviors, such as taking turns and sharing. This will enable the child to better function in social situations.
Support groups: Support groups are generally made up of people with similar problems and needs. This can help with acceptance and support. Groups also can provide a forum for learning more about a disorder and the latest approaches to treatment. These groups are helpful for adults with ADHD or parents of children with ADHD.
For in depth information, see WebMD's ADHD Treatment.
What is the outlook for children and adults with ADHD?
It is very important for children and adults with symptoms of ADHD to seek professional care. Without treatment, ADHD can interfere with a child's performance in school as well as the child's ability to make and keep friends. This can have a negative impact on the child's self-esteem.
In addition, children with ADHD are at risk for developing conduct disorder, depression, drug abuse problems, or an anxiety disorder. They are also more likely to have a learning disorder. Teens with ADHD are at greater risk for car accidents, pregnancy, and tobacco and alcohol use. Adults with ADHD have difficulty with time management, employment, and relationships.
But, when treated, most people with ADHD -- between 70% and 80% -- experience at least some relief of symptoms. Many of the symptoms of ADHD diminish by early adulthood. However, up to 50% of people with ADHD as children continue to have problems as adults.