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ADD & ADHD Health Center

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Treatment Overview

Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) relies on a combination of medicines and behavior therapy. Treatment with medicine depends on the age of your child. The first step is an accurate diagnosis of ADHD and an understanding of your child's strengths and weaknesses. Learning about ADHD will help you and your child's siblings better understand how to help your child.


Your child's doctor may recommend that your child take a stimulant medicine. These medicines include amphetamine (for example, Adderall or Dexedrine) and methylphenidate (for example, Concerta, Metadate CD, or Ritalin). Stimulants improve symptoms in about 70 out of 100 children who have ADHD.1

If stimulant medicines have bothersome side effects or aren't effective, your child's doctor might recommend a nonstimulant medicine such as atomoxetine (Strattera), clonidine (Kapvay), or guanfacine (Intuniv). These medicines may be used alone or in combination with stimulant medicines.

ADHD: Should My Child Take Medicine for ADHD?

Behavior therapy

Through behavior therapy, parents learn strategies, such as positive reinforcement, to improve a child's behaviors. Children learn skills for problem solving, communication, and self-advocacy. Behavior therapy is more helpful when used with medicine than when used by itself.

Some children with ADHD also have other conditions, such as anxiety or oppositional defiant disorder. Behavior therapy can help treat some of these conditions.

Counseling may help children and adults who have ADHD recognize problem behaviors and learn ways to deal with them. For both parents and children, counseling can be a place to air frustrations and deal with stress. To learn more, see Other Treatment.

There are many things you can do to help your child at home and at school. To learn more, see Home Treatment.

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