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ADHD in Teens (cont.)

What Is the Medical Treatment for ADHD in Teens?

Medical management of ADHD in teens may involve medications, educational or vocational interventions, psychotherapy, or some combination of these.

What Medications Treat ADHD in Teens?

Medications in the stimulant class are known to be quite effective for treating ADHD. Examples of stimulant medications used to treat this condition include short-acting medications like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), intermediate-acting medications like dextroamphetamine amphetamine (Adderall and Adderall-XR), and long-acting stimulants like methylphenidate slow release (Concerta, Daytrana), dexmethylphenidate (Focalin-XR), and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse). A long-acting dextroamphetamine (Adderall XR) is also available. However, for some individuals, the side effects of the medication prevent these medications from being appropriate. Therefore, specific nonstimulant medications, which are also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for effective treatment of ADHD, are prescribed for those individuals. Examples of nonstimulant medications include atomoxetine (Strattera), guanfacine (Tenex or Intuniv), and clonidine (Kapvay). Medications that are often used to treat depression, like bupropion (Wellbutrin) and venlafaxine (Effexor), can also be helpful in the treatment of ADHD for some individuals.

As anything that is ingested carries a risk of side effects, it is important for the ADHD patient and his or her family to work closely with the prescribing doctor to decide whether treatment with medications is an appropriate intervention and, if so, which medication should be administered. The kinds of side effects caused by a medication are highly specific to which medication it is and to the group of medications it is in. The person being treated should therefore discuss potential medications with their treating physician and be closely monitored for the possibility of side effects that can vary from minor to severe, and can very rarely even be life-threatening.

What Other Therapies Treat ADHD in Teens?

The behavioral, educational/vocational, and psychotherapy components of treatment for ADHD are at least as important as the medication treatment. Dealing with the specific challenges that teens with ADHD present takes patience, understanding, and a balance of structure and flexibility. Knowing that the brains of people with ADHD tend to be about three years less mature than those of people without the disorder can go a long way in terms of learning how to handle ADHD teenagers at home or in the classroom. For example, the delay in brain maturation often results in teens with ADHD having trouble processing information and recalling information in a timely way. That often translates into challenges with tasks like writing essays or test questions, completing multistep math problems, recalling what is read, and finishing long-term assignments. Teachers and schools who are savvy at working with teens who suffer from ADHD often use techniques like physical and visual teaching materials, memory games, frequent breaks, and strategic seating to help the adolescent with this issue achieve their highest academic potential on a daily basis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017


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