Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


The treatment for ADHD can relieve symptoms and make it easier to live an everyday life.

ADHD can be managed with medication or adolescent therapy online. However, a combination is usually best.

A GP monitors the condition, but a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a pediatrician will usually arrange the treatment.


Five types of medicines are approved for treating ADHD:

  • methylphenidate
  • lisdexamfetamine
  • dexamfetamine
  • Atomoxetine
  • Guanfacine

The medicines do not cure ADHD, but they can help people with the condition to concentrate better, become less impulsive and calmer and learn and practice new skills.

Some medications must be taken daily, while others can only be taken on school days. Sometimes, it is recommended that you take a break from taking the drug to determine if you still need it.

A GP or specialist can help you if you weren’t diagnosed with ADHD before adulthood. They will discuss the best medicines and treatments for you.

You or your child will probably start with small doses and then gradually increase them. Regular check-ups with your GP are required to ensure the treatment is effective and check for any problems or side effects.

Let your doctor know if there are any side effects. Also, you can talk to them if you want to change the treatment.

In many cases, your specialist will tell you how long to continue treatment.


Methylphenidate, the most common medicine used for ADHD, is the most widely prescribed medication. It belongs to the group of stimulants that work by increasing brain activity, especially in areas involved in controlling attention and behaviour.

Adults, adolescents and children older than five years old with ADHD may receive methylphenidate.

Take medicine as an immediate-release tablet (small doses, two to three times per day) or a modified-release tablet (taken in the morning with the amount released throughout the rest of the day).

Common side effects of methylphenidate are:

  • A slight increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite can cause weight loss or poor weight gains
  • Trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Feeling aggressive, irritable or depressed?

Learn more about methylphenidate in adults

Learn more about methylphenidate in children


Lisdexamfetamine stimulates specific parts of the human brain. It helps improve concentration, focus attention and reduces impulse behaviour.

If methylphenidate treatment has failed for at least six weeks, it may be given to children and teenagers with ADHD.

Lisdexamfetamine may be the first choice of medicine for adults instead of methylphenidate.

Lisdexamfetamine is available in capsules, which are taken one time per day.

Lisdexamfetamine can cause a number of side effects.

  • Reduced appetite can cause weight loss or poor weight gain
  • aggression
  • Drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • Headaches
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting


Dexamfetamine works the same as lisdexamfetamine. Adults, adolescents and children older than five years old with ADHD may receive this medication.

Dexamfetamine tablets are usually taken 2 to 4 times per day. Oral solutions are also available.

Dexamfetamine can cause a number of side effects.

  • Reduced appetite
  • Feelings of mood swings
  • Aggression and agitation
  • dizziness
  • Headaches
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting


Atomoxetine is different from other ADHD medications.

It is a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibit (SNRI), meaning it increases the level of a brain chemical called noradrenaline.

It is a chemical that transmits messages between brain cells.

If methylphenidate and lisdexamfetamine are unavailable, atomoxetine can be prescribed to adults, adolescents and children older than five. Atomoxetine is also approved for adults with ADHD symptoms.

Atomoxetine is available in capsules, which are usually taken one or two times a day.

These are some of the most common side effects associated with atomoxetine:

  • A slight increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • dizziness
  • Headaches
  • irritability

You should be aware of some severe side effects of atomoxetine, such as suicidal feelings and liver damage.

Speak to your doctor if you or your child begins to feel suicidal or depressed while taking this medication.


Guanfacine reduces blood tension and improves attention by acting on the part of the brain.

If methylphenidate and lisdexamfetamine are not available, they can be given to children older than five years old or teenagers. Adults with ADHD should not receive guanfacine.

Guanfacine tablets are usually taken once daily in the morning or at night.

Common side effects include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth

The Right to Therapy

Different therapies are available to treat ADHD in adults, adolescents, and children. The treatment is effective for treating other problems that may occur with ADHD, such as anxiety or conduct disorders.

These are some of the possible treatments.


You or your child may be encouraged to talk about ADHD and its effects through psychoeducation. This can help adults, teens, and children understand what ADHD is and how to live with it.

Behavioural therapy

Teachers and parents may be involved in behaviour therapy. Behaviour management is a standard part of behaviour therapy. It uses rewards to motivate your child to manage their ADHD.

You can encourage your child to sit at the dining table if they have ADHD. You can then reward your child for their good behaviour.

Teachers can learn how to manage behaviour by learning to structure and plan activities and to praise children even for small achievements.

Programmes for parent education and training

Specially designed parent education and training programmes can help parents learn how to talk to their children and play and work with them in order to improve their behaviour and attention.

Before your child receives a formal diagnosis of ADHD, you may be offered a parent education course.

The programmes are typically arranged into groups of 10-12 parents. The average schedule consists of between 10 and 16 meetings lasting 2 hours.

It does not mean you are a lousy parent to be offered a parent education and training programme. The program aims to educate parents and caregivers about behaviour management while increasing their confidence to help their children and improve their relationships.

Social skills training

In social skills training, your child will be asked to take part in role-play situations. This is to help them learn how to act in social situations.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

CBT can help you solve your problems by changing your thoughts and actions. A therapist will try to change the way you or your child feel about a specific situation. This could change their behaviour.

CBT can either be done individually with a therapist or in groups.

Other Treatments

Some people find that other methods of treatment for ADHD, like cutting out particular food and taking supplements, are helpful. There is no evidence that these treatments work, and you should seek medical advice before trying them.


A balanced, healthy diet is recommended for people with ADHD. Consult your doctor before removing any foods.

Some people notice that certain types of foods worsen ADHD symptoms. Keep a journal of your eating and drinking habits and the following behaviour. Talk to your GP, who can refer you to a nutritionist (a health professional specialising in nutrition).


Although the evidence is limited, some studies suggest that omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid supplements may benefit people with ADHD.

Before using any supplements, it’s best to consult your doctor. Some can interact with medications unpredictably or reduce their effectiveness.

Remember that certain supplements can cause dangerous levels in your body if taken for a long time.

Parents: Tips to help you with your children

If you are the parent of an ADHD child:

  • Make sure you and your doctor understand the differences between ADHD, and other disorders or problems that your child might have.
  • Consider who else should be informed about your child’s ADHD. This could include their school or nursery.
  • Find out what side effects your child may experience and how to monitor them.
  • Getting to know local support groups will help you cope and stop you from feeling alone.

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