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Adult ADHD Treatment: A Guide to Your Options

The best treatment is often a combo of meds and counseling.

Treating ADHD in adults is similar in many ways to treating it in children. But for adults who have had it their whole lives and never been treated, there may also be some life challenges that will need to be addressed. The first thing to know is no one treatment works the same for everyone. You’ll want to work with your doctor to tailor an approach just for you. Medications can help most adults with ADHD, but some will benefit from just counseling or behavioral therapy. The best treatment is typically a combination of both medication and counseling.

The same drugs used for treating children with ADHD are effective in treating adults with the disorder. There are two main types of drugs. The first are stimulants, which are believed to help regulate neurotransmitters in the brain and help boost attention while lowering impulsivity tendencies. Individuals may respond differently to various stimulants and dosages, so you’ll have to work closely with your doctor to find the best drug and the most effective dose for you. Another type of drug used are NRIs, or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These are usually prescribed for people who may have concerns about addiction or other side effects related to stimulants. The NRIs have their own side effects, including headaches, sleepiness, and irritability. Antidepressants are also used to help adults with ADHD, since many adults who have the disorder also experience depression or anxiety.  

Now let’s turn to counseling. Counseling can involve individual, marriage or family, or behavioral therapy. Individual therapy helps adults whose ADHD causes feelings of underachieving, inadequacy, anxiety or low self-esteem. Marriage or family counseling can also help a spouse or family member understand the disorder. Behavioral therapy can help you develop strategies for coping with specific symptoms, build new skills for organization, manage time more efficiently, and find new methods for interacting with others.  

The key is taking an active role, with the help of your doctor, to manage your ADHD.




Holly Atkinson, MD

This video features Holly Atkinson, MD. Dr. Atkinson specializes in internal medicine and is an award-winning medical journalist.

Duration: 3:51. Last Updated On: Nov. 8, 2017, 6:14 p.m.
Reviewed by: Suzanne Friedman, MD, Preeti Parikh, MD, . Review date: Aug. 9, 2014
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