What is the treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Leslie A. Hulvershorn, M.D., M.Sc. Expert on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Despite many years of research of trying to find good therapies for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), medications are actually considered to be the most effective treatment for decreasing symptoms. Stimulant medications are considered to be first line treatments and include methylphenidate compounds (e.g., Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, Focalin) and amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse). If these first line medications cannot be used due being ineffective or causing problematic side effects, another class of drugs known as alpha-2-agonists can be used (e.g., Tenex, Clonidine). These alpha-2-agonists can also be used in combination with the stimulants to provide a more successful treatment. Individual and family education focused on developing skills and techniques to modify behavior and develop social skills can also be helpful. Educational interventions can also be beneficial for a child through either teacher or classroom modifications that will provide more structure for the child to thrive in. There are also some computer-based treatments that appear to be quite helpful. One example is the Cogmed working memory training program. Probably more computer- based treatments will turn out to be helpful in the future.

Leslie A. Hulvershorn, M.D., M.Sc.
NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
Indiana University School of Medicine

With a special thanks to Kristen Schroeder