Detailed information on treatments and coping strategies for ADHD. Includes both children and adults with ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, sometimes also known as AD/HD or ADD) is a diagnosis based on behavioral symptoms. The signs and symptoms of ADHD, and medications for ADHD are discussed in separate pages. This page focuses on the treatment of ADHD and the ways an individual and family members can cope with this sometimes vexing disorder.
What are the usual treatments for ADHD?
At the present time, it is generally believed that ADHD cannot be cured, and most people grow out of only some of the symptoms. There is also a minority view that ADD is caused by developmental trauma and can be successfully treated. The most commonly prescribed treatment is a combination of:
- behavioral intervention at home, in school, or in the workplace
- psychotherapy or coaching
- medication (discussed in-depth in the HealthyPlace.com ADHD medications section, which also includes a discussion of benefits and risks of medication)
Many people in the life of the person with ADHD may take part in this multi-modal treatment:
- the school or workplace
- the people who live with the person with ADHD, such as family, spouse, partner, or parents
- a psychiatrist or other medical practitioner who can prescribe drugs
- a psychologist, counselor, or coach
- most of all, the individual with ADHD who wishes to make changes in his or her life.
For most individuals with ADHD, this multi-modal treatment approach seems to work. However, some people do not respond well to the standard treatment, and some families object to the use of medications, particularly with young children. Some children object to the way the medication makes them feel.
How can an individual with ADHD cope?
Here are some suggestions for coping with ADHD. Start by viewing this condition as a difference rather than a disability and then set about to deal with the needs this difference creates.
- Get a formal diagnosis. Choose a psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, or therapist who has knowledge and experience, including recent information about developmental trauma, which may influence the diagnosis. An exam should also rule out any other mental or physical problems that may be exacerbating or masking the ADHD.
- Gather information about medications. If a medical practitioner recommends medications, do some research to decide if you and your family want to pursue this approach. If so, take medications as directed and notice any differences. Let your doctor know if there are any unpleasant or difficult side effects of medication so adjustments can be made. Once beginning medications, do not make changes without consulting your doctor.
- Include therapy and/or coaching in treatment. Whether or not medications are incorporated, psychotherapy can help the individual and family deal with the feelings and tensions that accompany ADHD. Coaching can help with learning specific organizational and social skills.
- Ask for help. Just as a blind person develops other senses more fully and learns to ask others for assistance when necessary, a person with ADHD must develop ways to compensate for a disability and learn to ask others for assistance. Ultimately, a person with ADHD will find that asking for reminders or help in organizing projects is a better solution than pretending to be able to handle everything, and then failing.