Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that affects about one-third of American children and teens. It can cause problems with school, relationships, and work. People with ADHD have trouble paying attention, staying focused, and being organized.
The symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person and can change over time. They are usually categorized as mild, moderate or severe.
Mild: Few symptoms beyond the number needed for a diagnosis are present. Some symptoms are moderate or more severe, and the disorder impairs a person’s social, school, or work functioning.
Moderate: Symptoms are moderate but not severe or severe enough to be markedly impairing.
Severe: Many or most of the symptoms are severe and impact a person’s functioning.
Medications and other therapies may help. Medication can help relieve symptoms and reduce stress, anxiety and impulsive behaviors. It can also improve sleep and mood.
Stimulant medications, such as Adderall (methylphenidate), are the most common treatment for ADHD. These medications can be helpful for both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types of the disorder.
Other medications can help with impulsivity, such as Strattera (atomoxetine), Tenex (guanfacine) or Qelbree (viloxazine). They are often used along with stimulants.
Psychoeducation and behavior therapy are other ways to treat ADHD. These therapies teach people with the condition how to manage their symptoms and learn new skills.
They can also help people with ADHD control impulsive behaviors and avoid risky activities, such as smoking or drinking. They can also help people with ADHD cope with emotional problems and make positive changes in their lives.
Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help people with ADHD and their families manage their symptoms. These therapies can also be helpful for people with comorbid conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder.
There are also some other non-medication approaches to treating ADHD, including diet and exercise. These are not recommended without medical advice, however.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help people with ADHD by improving concentration and increasing energy levels. It can also help with irritability and restlessness, which are common ADHD side effects.
Physical exercise can be especially beneficial for people with ADHD because it helps stimulate the brain. It can also increase the production of dopamine, a chemical that makes people feel good and reward good behaviors.
A regular schedule can also help people with ADHD stay on track and keep their symptoms under control. Set a specific time for meals, bedtime, and other daily activities. If you or your child struggle with getting enough sleep, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
You can also use a timer to make sure you follow the schedule. You can keep a calendar on your refrigerator or bulletin board and write down any changes as soon as possible.
The goal of treatment is to help people with ADHD function better in their homes, schools and work environments. This can improve a person’s life and quality of life.