Medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children

The child and adolescent psychiatrists at NYU Langone's Child Study Center may prescribe medication to children and teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Medication can be an important and sometimes critical component of managing ADHD in children, because it often provides symptom relief. Your child’s doctor also considers any related mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, to develop an appropriate medication plan.

The most common type of medication used to treat children with ADHD is a class of medications called stimulants, which can have a positive effect on people with this condition. ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve the ability to focus and learn. Many types of stimulant medications are available. NYU Langone child and adolescent psychiatrists are experienced at ensuring that each child receives the most appropriate medication for his or her symptoms.

Stimulant medications for ADHD are available in short-acting and extended-release varieties. Many parents find that long-acting or extended release stimulants allow a child to take the medication just once a day before school, eliminating the need to disrupt a child’s class time with a visit to the school nurse for another dose. 

Our doctors may prescribe a different class of medications, either alpha-2 agonists or atomoxetine, known as Strattera®, as an alternative to stimulants. Hyperactive or aggressive children may benefit from these medications, as might children who do not respond to stimulants. 

All of these medications work by improving the connections in different parts of the brain by enhancing the function of two chemicals: dopamine and norepinephrine. 

Medication to treat ADHD is monitored by our child and adolescent psychiatrists, who work with you and your child to ensure proper dosing and use. Our doctors recognize that what works for one child may not work for another, and they carefully consider your feedback and concern during medication treatment.

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