Harvard Mental Health Letter

Treating ADHD in children and adolescents

An update about the latest clinical guidance and controversies.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children. It affects at least 3% to 5% of American children, although two nationwide surveys suggest that the percentage has been increasing, and it may currently affect as many as 8% to 9%.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), defines three ADHD subtypes: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-compulsive, or combined. Although symptom severity varies, ADHD can be devastating, wreaking havoc with attention and causing irrepressible energy and impulsive behavior that can strain family relationships and impair achievement at school.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »