Can anything cure ADHD?
Nothing cures ADHD completely, but it is a very treatable disorder. The most effective treatment seems to be a combination of medication, especially stimulants
, and different kinds of talk therapies
. back to top
How do stimulants help ADHD?
More than 200 studies have shown that medication works well in treating ADHD. Since the 1930s, stimulants
have been used to treat the disorder. These medications calm you down. They help you concentrate better and stop fidgeting. It's important to remember that these medications don't change who you are. In fact, they allow you to be more of who you are by easing your symptoms.
Different doctors use stimulants in different ways. Ritalin and Dexedrine come in tablets that last about three hours. They also come in preparations that last through the entire school day. The short term dose is better for people who need medication only during the school day or for special situations, like religious services or the prom. The long term dose may make it easier and less embarrassing for you at school because you won't have to see the school nurse every day for a pill. They don't work for everyone, however.
For the past 15 years, there has been a big debate about whether Ritalin and other stimulants are prescribed for too many children and teens. Anxiety, depression, allergies, seizures, or problems at home or at school may make someone seem hyperactive or inattentive—even if they aren't. Critics argue that many children who do not really have ADHD are given medication to control their disruptive behaviors. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with some guidelines about prescribing stimulants for ADHD so that doctors and other health care providers will be more careful. back to top
Do any other medications help?
Other medications may also be helpful in treating ADHD. Wellbutrin (bupropion) is an antidepressant
often used to treat ADHD. Some tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
are also prescribed. back to top
Does talk therapy help?
As helpful as medication is for treating ADHD, it is not a cure. But taming some of the toughest symptoms of the disorder can make you more open to some helpful talk therapies
How do I survive—in school and beyond?
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of talk therapy encourages and rewards teens for proper behavior. It can teach you greater self-control, self-guidance, and better problem-solving strategies.
- Social skills training. Teens with ADHD often get into conflicts with their peers. That's because when you have ADHD, you may not realize that you are bothering or annoying people. Social skills training helps you understand your peers and improve your social behavior. You learn how to evaluate social situations and adjust your behavior so that your responses are appropriate.
- Family therapy. People with ADHD can sometimes be hard to live with. Family therapy gives everyone a chance to talk about the stresses at home. Also, if you were diagnosed with ADHD as a young child, your parents have probably been very involved with your illness. As you get older, it's important that you take on more responsibility for managing your own care. Family therapy can help you and your parents negotiate this shift in responsibility. It can also help your brothers and sisters adjust to the changes you are going through. back to top
Most teens with ADHD can stay in the regular classroom. ADHD is considered to be a disability under federal law if it interferes with your ability to learn. So you may be eligible for special services, like tutoring, to help you do your best. And you will need to learn new study habits and organizational skills. Your parents can help you with this, by working with you and your tutor to invent all kinds of new strategies. Maybe you need to take short breaks. Maybe you need to make up a daily schedule. Maybe you need to get permission to take as much time as you need on tests. All these strategies will serve you well not only in school, but also as you go on to college and the working world. back to top