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:
At age 4, Jeremiah Ryans routinely refused to wait in line at the water
fountain at his summer day camp. Sometimes he'd get so cranky he would hit his
classmates. But an alarm bell went off when he grabbed a pair of children's
scissors and cut his teacher's hair.
Just a kid being a kid -- or extreme behavior that may need medical help?
The answer isn't clear-cut, and it's different for every family.
"He was on the verge of being expelled from day care," remembers his
mother, Mimi, of Columbia,...
Here's a closer look at these drugs and others that are used as part of adjunctive therapy:
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:
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.
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)
These medicines can be used alone or together with a stimulant medicine. They are extended-release medicines that can last for 12 to 24 hours.
Kapvay and Intuniv were originally made to treat high blood pressure. However, they also affect certain chemical receptors in the brain that help to treat ADHD. In children with ADHD, they improve:
Research shows Kapvay and Intuniv also can help kids with ADHD who have tics. But they have not been approved by the FDA for that purpose.
Side effects of these drugs in children and teens can include: