ADHD medications: Children

The treatment of ADHD is based on several therapy modules. In addition to information and consulting by the physician (psychoeducation), there is also, if necessary, behavioural therapy and parent training; and ADHD treatment by medication presents the third central treatment module. Medications are generally used as a supplement to other treatment measures in order to reduce ADHD-typical disorders (attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, impulsiveness). Especially in severe cases, they frequently provide the foundation for other therapies to be successfully implemented at all.

Good to know: After a thorough examination of the child and in agreement with the parents, the physician will decide whether ADHD specific medication is used for treatment.

When is the use of ADHD medication sensible?

The treating physician will generally recommend medication therapy if other non-medication measures – such as information and consulting (psychoeducation) and parent training – cannot provide any adequate improvement after a few months and if the symptoms lead to the child's significant impairment in school, family and recreation.

Good to know: If behavioural problems are extremely pronounced, medication treatment is often an important prerequisite for behavioural therapy to bring about the desired success.

Stimulants with ADHD

Stimulants such as methylphenidate present the best researched active ingredient group for an ADHD medication therapy in children. Accordingly, they are considered remedies of first choice. The active ingredient methylphenidate is used most frequently since it has been clinically researched the best and longest and is therefore considered the gold standard. Under certain conditions, medications are used with the active ingredients dexamphetamine or atomoxetine (a non-stimulant substance).

Medications with ADHD

  • The most frequently used active ingredients are stimulants
  • They improve stimuli transmission between nerve cells
  • Information can thus be better processed again
  • ADHD-typical behavioural disorders are improved
  • The child's character remains unaffected
  • Stimulants do not sedate children
  • Stimulants present the best-researched active ingredient group with ADHD
  • The active ingredient methylphenidate is used most frequently

How do stimulants act?

In people without ADHD, stimulants – as the name indicates – have a stimulating effect on the activity of the brain. People with ADHD are able to concentrate better with such medication and thus appear calmer. The active ingredients influence the transmission of stimuli in the central nervous system. So that environmental stimuli can be properly processed in the brain, neurotransmitters – such as dopamine – go from one nerve cell to the other. Today, researchers assume that this mechanism is impaired in people with ADHD since there is apparently not enough dopamine available in certain areas of the brain. This is precisely where stimulants apply: They normalise the concentration of neurotransmitters between the nerve cells.

Will medication change the child's character?

Many parents fear that ADHD medication might change the character of their child. It is a fact, however, that stimulants will not influence a person's nature but merely improve the underlying impairment of the neurotransmitters. As a result, conspicuous behaviour, such as hyperactivity or Impulsiveness, is reduced – that is the desired effect of the medication.

Good to know: ADHD medication does not sedate children! On the contrary: Medication with an active ingredient from the group of stimulants has a simulating effect on the brain activity and provides for a reduction of the behavioural disorders typical for ADHD. This helps the affected child to behave age-appropriately and better utilise its abilities.

ADHD therapy

  • Multimodal treatment concept
  • Pillars of treatment: Consulting and psychoeducation by the physician, parent and teacher training, behavioural therapy, medication
  • Therapy is precisely adjusted to the individual symptoms