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Study looks at ADHD therapy for adults

Posted August 24, 2010

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy could be an effective alternative to treating adults suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"Medications don't do everything. They turn the volume down on symptoms, but they don't teach people skills to manage their symptoms," said Steven Safren, a clinical psychologist and director of Behavioral Medicine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Safren and researchers studied 86 people with ADHD who were already on medication over the course of nearly four years.

They helped the patients with organization and planning skills, such as keeping a calendar and task list.

"We helped people with skills for distractibility, breaking overwhelming tasks into steps as well as selecting an action plan," Safren said.

The treatment is available through a published workbook and includes about 12 sessions.

Study: ADHD could be misdiagnosed Adults with ADHD benefit from behavioral therapy

"We found a 67 percent response rate to people who got the cognitive behavioral therapy condition, compared to only a 33 percent response rate to people who got a control condition of relaxation and educational support," Safren said.

Evidence-based psychosocial treatments are relatively new for ADHD.

The study is one of the first to prove effective in adult ADHD patients, like Brian Harrington.

Harringtion says avoidance and inattention to daily tasks became very stressful for him, even though he was on medication.

The cognitive behavioral therapy, he said, is helping him break down many hard-to-do tasks into smaller, workable pieces.

"It really did give me the tools to understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses, but more importantly being a more effective employee and happier guy," he said.

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  • edith wharton Sep 1, 2010

    Thank you, MrPearce!

  • jlbest Sep 1, 2010

    I am an adult with ADHD. ADHD is one of the most misunderstood disorders. Whereas some people are "misdiagnosed" a lot of people actually suffer from it. It is wrong to think that people with ADHD are simply immature.

  • RealityAddict Aug 27, 2010

    I recall a few years ago, my boss learned his child was suffering from ADHD. He said he asked the Doc, if it was genetic or if it was possible HE (the father) could have ADHD. The Doc said, NO, Adults do not have ADHD (this was in 2000)!......Recently there was a study released saying that ADHD/ADD had been "mis-label" on children that were merely immature.....Is it possible to have immature adults as well?!?!?!

  • MrPearce Aug 27, 2010

    It's $25 and available on Amazon:

    ISBN-10: 0195188195
    ISBN-13: 978-0195188196

  • Ol Forrester Aug 25, 2010

    Where can someone get the workbook mentioned in the article ? That would be handy information, don't ya think ???