Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

ADHD health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

ADHD treatment options

ADHD cannot be cured, but it can be managed with 4 main approaches, or a combination of treatments:

Each child's symptoms will be different, as will the most appropriate treatments recommended by ADHD specialists. If one medicine or approach doesn’t work, a different one may be tried.

Stimulant medicines for ADHD.

Stimulant medicines are the most commonly prescribed medications for children with ADHD. They include dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate. These medicines are called psychostimulants or CNS stimulants.


Although methylphenidate can be a successful treatment for ADHD symptoms in children over 6 years old and teenagers, doctors do not fully know how it works. Methylphenidate is also sometimes referred to by the brand name Ritalin.

However, it is thought it helps by stimulating parts of the brain responsible for changing mental and behavioural reactions.

Methylphenidate is given under close supervision from a GP and ADHD specialist. It may be given as several doses a day or by using slow release tablets.

One side effect is loss of appetite with a risk of weight loss. Doctors will monitor a child's weight and growth while taking methylphenidate.

Other side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, sleep problems, headaches, tummy aches and mood swings.


Dexamfetamine works in a similar way to methylphenidate, with similar side-effects, and may be recommended for children over 3 years old and teenagers.

Extra caution will be taken if a child with epilepsy is prescribed dexamfetamine.

Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, and nausea and mood swings.


Lisdexamfetamine works in the same way as dexamfetamine and can be used by children over 6 years old.

It can cause a loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss. Other side effects include drowsiness, aggression, and headaches.

Non-stimulants medicine for ADHD

Atomoxetine is a non-stimulant medication for ADHD. This type of medicine is called a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) which helps to improve concentration and manage impulsive behaviour.

It may be recommended for children over 6 years old, teenagers and adults with ADHD.

This medicine carries warnings about an increased risk of a child thinking about suicide, so children will need to be monitored for signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.

Atomoxetine is not suitable for anyone with the eye condition glaucoma.

Side effects include a small risk of liver damage, increased blood pressure and heart rate, nausea, waking up early, dizziness, tummy aches and irritability.

Psychological therapy for ADHD

Therapy may help children and teenagers with ADHD in combination with medicine.

The approach for therapy may involve counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is called a talking therapy. Getting a child to talk about their ADHD and how it affects them can help them cope with the condition and make more sense of the diagnosis.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman washing face
Prevent & treat flare-ups
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
female patient consulting with female GP
Take action for a healthy baby
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?
cold sore
Prevent and treat cold sores
smiling african american woman
Best kept secrets of healthy hair
assorted spices
Pump up the flavour with spices
10 tips to lose weight after baby
crossword puzzle
Tips for the first hard days
sperm and egg
Facts to help you get pregnant
african american woman wiping sweat from forehead
Relief from excessive sweating
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting