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ADHD treatment options

By Gail Belsky

At a Glance

  • Experts agree that ADHD medication is the most effective treatment for ADHD.

  • There are different types of therapy that can help people manage ADHD.

  • Some people with ADHD also benefit from social skills groups.

There are many ways to treat ADHD and help manage symptoms. They range from medication and therapy to lifestyle changes like getting more sleep. But experts agree that medication for ADHD is the most effective treatment for most people.

Studies have shown that medication works well for around 80 percent of people with ADHD. (As long as they’re getting the type and dosage that’s right for them.) Still, some people have questions or concerns about the medications.

 There are other types of treatment that can help people manage ADHD. They include talk therapy to deal with emotional issues that often occur. Some people can also benefit from social skills groups.

Behavior therapy can be helpful to some kids — especially in combination with medication. This therapy is designed to replace negative behaviors with positive ones using a rewards system.

These treatments and therapies are key to managing ADHD symptoms and challenges. There are also strategies people can use to help keep those challenges from getting in the way at school, at work, and in everyday life.

Understood is not affiliated with any pharmaceutical company.

Dive deeper

ADHD medication

There are two main types of medication for ADHD: stimulant and non-stimulant. They work in different ways in the brain to help control ADHD’s key symptoms.

Not all people respond to the same medication in the same way. They may need to have their medication adjusted at first to find the right type and dosage. Sometimes, ADHD medication causes side effects. These usually go away in a few days. (Find out how ADHD medication works in the brain .)

People with ADHD are also more likely to have anxiety or depression. So health professionals may suggest medication for those issues, too.

Learn more in this guide to ADHD medication .

Types of therapy for ADHD

People with ADHD may find it helpful to work with a mental health professional. There are two types of therapy that people with ADHD commonly do:

Behavior therapy: The main goal is to change negative behaviors into positive ones. This type of therapy often involves using a rewards system at home. It’s helpful to some kids with ADHD, and it’s often used along with medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a type of talk therapy. The main goal is to get people to think about their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It’s not specifically for ADHD. But it may be helpful for some people, especially if they have anxiety and/or depression.

Social skills groups: For some people, ADHD symptoms can make it hard to socialize. People may talk nonstop or not think before they speak. A social skills group run by a professional can help them learn and practice important skills for interacting with others.

Find out how these therapies work:

Other non-medication approaches

Medication is the most effective treatment for most people with ADHD. But there are other non-medication approaches that have some backing in research. They include:

  • Exercise

  • Outdoor activities

  • Omega supplements

  • Mindfulness 

Research has shown these to be somewhat helpful in relieving ADHD symptoms. But there are other products some people try that aren’t supported by research. These include certain supplements and “train-the-brain” games.

Get the facts about alternative treatments for ADHD .

Other supports that can help

They may not “treat” symptoms, but certain supports can help keep challenges from getting in the way at school or at work.

For example, can create an environment where people with ADHD can do their best work. This is true at school or in the workplace. Examples of accommodations include getting extra time on tests at school and having a quiet space to work in an office. 

Supports at school are often part of special education. The first step toward getting them is usually an evaluation. (Evaluations done at school are free.) At work, employees can start by talking to their manager about specific challenges and supports that would help.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom