Skip to content

ADHD in Children Health Center

Drug Combinations to Treat ADHD in Children

Font Size
A
A
A

Ask 10 different parents how they treat their children's ADHD and you're likely to get 10 different answers. That's because treatment for ADHD is personalized. Depending on the child, treatment can include:

  • A single medicine
  • Combination of medicines
  • Medicine plus behavioral therapy

Often, medicine treatment for ADHD starts with a stimulant drug, such as:

Recommended Related to ADD-ADHD - Pediatric

Sharing a Diagnosis: When You and Your Child Have ADHD

Your son or daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And as you sat there in the office, listening to the doctor tick off the symptoms – the attention problems, the disorganization, the fidgeting – you recognized yourself. Suddenly, you wonder: Could I have adult ADHD? You very well might. ADHD runs in families, and experts say that for any child with ADHD, there’s a 30% to 40% chance that one of the parents has it. But for many adults, the idea...

Read the Sharing a Diagnosis: When You and Your Child Have ADHD article > >

But stimulants don't work for every child with ADHD. If that's the case with your child, the doctor might substitute another type of medicine.

Your child's doctor may also add another medicine to the stimulant drug or prescribe a combination of different medicines. This is called adjunctive therapy.

Studies show that when added to a stimulant, certain non-stimulants can improve the effectiveness of treatment.

Three non-stimulant medications are FDA-approved to treat ADHD in children:

Here's a closer look at these drugs and others that are used as part of adjunctive therapy:

Strattera

Strattera was the first non-stimulant drug approved to treat ADHD. It works by increasing amounts of chemicals called norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. This helps lessen ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

Strattera is approved for kids aged 6 and older.

Strattera can be prescribed alone. Or, it can be added to the stimulant drugs as an adjunctive treatment.

Side effects from Strattera can include:

  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss

These side effects tend to be less pronounced with Strattera than with traditional stimulants.

In rare cases, Strattera has been linked to heart or liver problems. The drug also carries a warning from the FDA about the risk of suicidal thoughts in children and teenagers.

Let your doctor know if your child has suicidal thoughts before taking this drug. Also watch for unusual behavior changes while your child is on this medicine and report them to your doctor.

Alpha-2 Agonists

Two drugs called alpha-2 agonists, in extended release form, are now formally approved to treat kids with ADHD:

  • Kapvay (clonidine ER)
  • Intuniv (guanfacine ER)

Today on WebMD

doctor writing on clipboard
ARTICLE
mother with child
ASSESSMENT
 
disciplining a boy
ARTICLE
daughter with her unhappy parents
ARTICLE
 
preschool age girl sitting at desk
ARTICLE
Child with adhd
SLIDESHOW
 
father helping son with homework
QUIZ
children in sack race
ARTICLE