Treating ADHD is a partnership between the health care provider and the patient. If the patient is a child, parents and often teachers are involved. For treatment to work, it is important to:
- Set specific, appropriate goals.
- Start medicine and/or talk therapy.
- Follow-up regularly with the doctor to check on goals, results, and any side effects of medicines. During these visits, information should be gathered from the patient and if relevant, parents and teachers.
If treatment does not seem to work, the health care provider will likely:
- Confirm the person has ADHD
- Check for medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms
- Make sure the treatment plan is being followed
Medicine combined with behavioral treatment often works best. There are several different ADHD medicines that may be used alone or in combination. The health care provider will decide which medicine is right based on the person's symptoms and needs.
Psychostimulants (also known as stimulants) are the most commonly used ADHD medicines. Although these drugs are called stimulants, they actually have a calming effect in people with ADHD.
Follow the health care provider's instructions on how to take ADHD medicine.
Some ADHD medicines have side effects. If the person has side effects, contact the health care provider right away. The dosage or medicine itself may need to be changed.
Therapy for both the patient and if relevant, the family, can help everyone understand and gain control of the stressful feelings related to ADHD.
A common type of ADHD therapy is called behavioral therapy. It teaches children and parents healthy behaviors and how to manage disruptive behaviors. For mild cases of ADHD, behavioral therapy alone (without medicine) can sometimes be effective.
Support groups can help the patient and family connect with others who have similar problems.
Other tips to help a child with ADHD include:
- Talk regularly with the child's teacher.
- Keep a consistent daily schedule, including regular times for homework, meals, and outdoor activities. Make changes to the schedule in advance and not at the last moment.
- Limit distractions in the child's environment.
- Make sure the child gets a healthy, varied diet, with plenty of fiber and basic nutrients.
- Make sure the child gets enough sleep.
- Praise and reward good behavior.
- Provide clear and consistent rules for the child.
There is little proof that alternative treatments for ADHD such as herbs, supplements, and chiropractic are helpful.