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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

ADHD Treatments continued...

ADHD treatment usually starts with medication. A few ADHD drug options are available:

Stimulant drugs. Despite their name, stimulant drugs have a calming effect on kids with ADHD. These medications include:

These drugs can reduce symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. They come in different forms, including:

  • pills
  • capsules
  • liquids
  • skin patches

Some stimulant drugs are long-acting, which means they keep working throughout the day. No one stimulant has been proven to work better than others. Each child responds differently to these medicines.

Non-stimulant drugs. This newer type of medication, which includes the drug Strattera (atomoxetine), is an alternative to stimulant drugs. Although non-stimulant medicines may not work as effectively as stimulants, they also have fewer side effects.

High blood pressure medicines. Alternatives to stimulants include these blood pressure drugs:

  • Catapres (clonidine)
  • Tenex (guanfacine)

These drugs can help control symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Antidepressants. Drugs that affect mood, including Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride), can sometimes help with ADHD symptoms.

No one drug can "cure" ADHD. Often, a child will need a combination of medicine and other treatments to reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms. You may need to work with your doctor to adjust the medicine and dose over time as your child's symptoms change.

Parents and pediatricians should watch carefully for side effects during medication treatments. Common ADHD drug side effects include:

  • appetite loss
  • weight loss
  • slowed growth
  • disrupted sleep
  • irritability
  • tics
  • anxiety

These drugs have also been linked to more serious side effects, including:

  • heart problems
  • psychiatric issues (such as hallucinations or hearing voices)

Strattera and antidepressant drugs also carry a warning about suicidal thoughts in children and teenagers.

Because of these rare risks, it's important to call your doctor right away if you notice any unusual symptoms in your child. While taking these medicines, kids should have the following carefully monitored:

  • height
  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • heart rate

Along with medicine, behavioral therapy can help with hyperactivity symptoms. A psychologist or therapist can help kids with ADHD learn how to recognize and control their hyperactive and impulsive behaviors.

Kids can also learn how to create and follow routines, and work to improve their social skills. Parents and teachers can use a system of rewards and consequences to reinforce good behaviors.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on May 10, 2014

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