Psychology Can Help

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How can ADHD be treated?

While there is no cure for ADHD, there are available treatments that can help reduce the symptoms and improve functioning. 


Medication

For many, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn, and may also improve physical coordination.


Stimulants are the most common type of medication used for treating ADHD. Although it may seem strange to treat ADHD with a medication that is considered a stimulant, it is because the medication increases the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which play essential roles in thinking and attention.


Non-stimulands are another kind of medication for the treatment of ADHD. These medications take longer to start working, but can also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity. A non-stimulant may be prescribed when a person has bothersome side effects from stimulants, a stimulant was not effective, or in combination with a stimulant to increase effectiveness.


Psychotherapy

Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help a person change his or her behavior. It might involved practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavior therapy teaches a person how to:

  • Monitor his or her own behavior
  • Give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting


Parents, teachers, and family members can also give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviors and help establish clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines to help a person control his or her behavior. Therapists may also teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.


Education and Training

Children and adults with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, families, and teacher to reach their full potential and succeed. Mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it affects a family.


Parenting skills training teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children. It helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child's behavior. Parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviors that they want to discourage.