Scientists and doctors have yet not been able to find a cure for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but the condition can be successfully treated.
The treatment options aim at helping children improve social relationships, perform better in school, and limit troubled behaviours. This goal cannot be achieved with medicines alone. A combination of medication and behaviour therapy is usually the best option.
To treat ADHD in children, doctors may prescribe several kinds of medications. These drugs are effective for most children in helping them focus their thoughts and controlling their behaviour. Stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta and others) and forms of amphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderall and others) are some examples.
Opposite to their name, the effect of stimulants does not cause an increased hyperactivity or impulsivity. However, some children may experience a few mild side-effects from these medications such as decreased appetite, weight loss, stomach aches, sleep problems, headaches and jitteriness.
It is rare that some serious side effects like dizziness, stuttering, tics or increased blood pressure are recorded in children taking these medicines. However, children undergoing a treatment for ADHD with stimulants must be observed regularly for any side effects and the effectiveness of these drugs.
A non-stimulant medication (atomoxetine or Strattera) has been approved for treating ADHD in children and adults. Other types of medicines (such as antidepressants) are also occasionally used to treat ADHD.
Other treatment approaches, used alone or in combination, may include:
Behavioural therapy —Techniques that try to improve behavioural issues in children with ADHD are known as behavioural therapy. These are usually conducted by rewarding and encouraging desirable behaviours and discouraging unwanted behaviours by pointing out the consequences.
Cognitive therapy — This psychotherapy is designed to help a child change his or her thinking so that he or she can build self esteem, stop having negative thoughts, and improve problem-solving skills.
Social skill training — This training involves improving social skills in children with ADHD to help them make and keep friends.
Parent education and support — Training classes, support groups, and counsellors can help to teach and support parents who have children suffering from ADHD; this includes strategies for dealing with ADHD-related behaviours.
Because many children with ADHD also are troubled by poor grades and school behaviour problems, it is important that schools provide educational adjustments and interventions (such as an individualized educational plan) to promote the best possible learning environment for the child.
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