There are several types of ADHD, such as:
- ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type
- ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
- ADHD, Combined Type.
Effective treatment depends on an appropriate diagnosis. A comprehensive medical evaluation of the child must be conducted to establish a correct diagnosis of ADHD and to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms. This condition can be reliably diagnosed when appropriate guidelines are used. Ideally, a healthcare provider making an ADHD diagnosis should include input from both parents and teachers. However, some healthcare providers make a diagnosis without all this information and tend to either overdiagnose ADHD or underdiagnose it.
The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood, although it can continue into the adult years (see Adult ADHD).
Research has shown that certain medications (stimulants, in most cases) and behavioral therapies that help children with ADHD control their activity level and impulsiveness, pay attention, and focus on tasks are the most beneficial treatments. Stimulants commonly prescribed for the condition include:
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin®)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
- Atomoxetine (Strattera®)
- Amphetamine (Adderall®, Adderall XR®).
Despite data showing that stimulant medications are safe, there are widespread misunderstandings about the safety and use of these drugs, and some healthcare providers are reluctant to prescribe them. Like all medications, those used to treat ADHD do have side effects and need to be closely monitored.
Most experts agree that treatment for ADHD should address multiple aspects of the individual's functioning and should not be limited to the use of medications alone. Effective treatment should include:
- Structured classroom management
- Parent education (to address discipline and setting limits)
- Tutoring and/or behavioral therapy for the child.