Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder primarily recognizable by a combination of hyperactivity and attention problems, with the two often occurring simultaneously. ADHD treatment usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, behavioral therapy, and counseling.
ADHD is the most frequently studied and diagnosed childhood psychiatric disorder, with approximately three to five percent of children affected globally. There are three subtypes of ADHD:
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, with most symptoms manifesting as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, with little to no inattention issues
- Predominantly inattentive, roughly the inverse of the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype. Notably, children affected by this subtype are less likely to act out and have problems interacting with other children.
- Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive, where the two issues present themselves in roughly equal measure
ADHD treatment consists of both medication and psychological techniques. The most commonly-used medications are stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin; however, there are few studies on the long-term benefits and drawbacks of using stimulants to treat ADHD. Stimulant medications do reduce the risk of substance abuse, a problem of which sufferers of ADHD are at increased risk. Medication guidelines vary by country, with, for example, England’s recommending medication usage only in severe cases of ADHD, while U.S. guidelines promote usage in almost all occurrences of the disorder.
Strong evidence exists that supports the effectiveness of psychological therapy in ADHD treatment. It is often used as a first resort in young children, who are among the most commonly diagnosed with the disorder, since medications have an increased chance of causing lasting harm. Behavior, interpersonal, and family psychotherapy are all used to help reduce the effects of ADHD.