Adult ADHD Treatment: Can ADHD Focused Therapy be Combined with Medication for Better Results?

Over two-thirds of American children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will have symptoms that persist into adulthood, and ADHD is now the second most common major mental disorder in adults. The difficulty focusing and impulsivity that are hallmarks of ADHD lead sufferers to struggle with procrastination, missed deadlines, memory impairments, interpersonal dysfunction, job difficulties, and legal problems.

Non-pharmacological Treatments for ADHD

Medication is the standard treatment for ADHD and has been shown to be safe and effective.  However, psychotherapy can also help people struggling with ADHD to learn useful skills that address bothersome symptoms and prevent any associated impairment in functioning.  In addition, a skilled therapist can collaborate with the patient to modify his or her environment in ways that are conducive to greater focus and performance.


After several years of heightened concern among the general public about possible overdiagnosis of ADHD and excessive utilization of habit-forming medication, particularly among children, scientific studies have shown that long-term use of the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD is safe and effective for patients.  70-80% of patients with ADHD will have clinically meaningful benefits, and treatment neither increases nor decreases the risk of developing substance abuse.

Many patients are surprised to learn that there are multiple categories of medication for treating the symptoms of ADHD.  Though the stimulants (e.g., Ritalin and Adderall), remain the most commonly prescribed and most reliably effective medication options, there are non-stimulant medications that have also been shown to help.  These include antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, adrenergic medications, such as Intuniv and Strattera, and the narcolepsy medications Modafinil and Armodafinil.

Better Together

Though effective individually, multiple randomized controlled clinical trials have shown that combined treatment is superior to either medication or psychotherapy alone.  Combined treatment is available from the subset of psychiatrists that offer psychotherapy, as well as through split treatment with separate providers for medication management and psychotherapy.

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