Skip to content

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Non-Drug ADHD Treatments Don't Pan Out in Study

Font Size
A
A
A

WebMD News from HealthDay

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Many parents pursue costly and time-consuming treatments to help their children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Now, a new study finds little evidence that non-drug interventions reduce key symptoms of ADHD.

A multinational team of experts identified no positive effects from psychological treatments including mind exercises (cognitive training), neurofeedback and behavioral training (positive reinforcement). And the researchers discovered only small benefits associated with dietary treatments: supplementation with omega-3 and omega-6 free fatty acids, and elimination of artificial food coloring.

Still, parents shouldn't be discouraged, said study co-author Dr. Emily Simonoff.

"I think our findings allow a much more informed discussion than did previous work because we've been able to demonstrate that what we once thought worked is more limited and more questionable," said Simonoff, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at King's College London.

Simonoff thinks the study conclusions need to be interpreted in the context of a child's particular situation.

"I think people need to talk with their child's clinician," she said. "Evidence is never a substitute for having a discussion about your own child and what is right for your child and your family."

ADHD diagnoses are on the rise. Between 1997 and 2007, diagnoses among U.S. children and teens increased between 3 percent and 6 percent a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the American Psychiatric Association, between 3 percent and 7 percent of U.S. children have the condition, which makes it hard to focus in school and to sustain friendships. Currently, a combination of medication and behavior therapy is the recommended treatment, according to the CDC.

The new review, an analysis of 54 studies by the European ADHD Guidelines Group, compared "blinded" and "unblinded" ratings for several dietary and psychological treatments. "Blinded" raters are unaware of the treatment used, while "unblinded" judges know of the therapy. It is thought that blinded ratings eliminate bias.

The study, published online Jan. 30 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that treatments were rated more effective in the unblinded tests, which appears to invalidate the conclusions.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Post it notes
Symptoms and treatments.
Close up of eye
What's zapping your focus?
 
man driving car
How to manage your impulses.
Woman shopping for vitamins at drugstore
Should you take them?
 
concentration killers
SLIDESHOW
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Article
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications
Article
 

boy eating egg
Video
smiling man
Article
 
ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Article
Adult man lying awake in bed
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections