Cognitive Therapy Helps Adults With ADHD08/24/10
TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Adding therapy to the
medications an adult might be taking for
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could lessen
symptoms and improve quality of life, new research suggests.
After one year, patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy
along with their medications quelled persistent symptoms better
than using drugs plus relaxation exercises.
"We have known that therapy helps, but this study shows that it's not just sitting with someone and talking about ADHD but specifically cognitive behavioral therapy that's helpful," said Jon Bergeron Jr., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychologist with Scott & White College Station Clinic.
Whether or not patients actually pursue a professional's
recommendation to start therapy is another matter.
"Most people don't pursue therapy," Bergeron stated. "Our culture is always looking for a magic pill."
Bergeron was not involved with the study, which appears in the
Aug. 25 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
Medications such as the stimulant Ritalin are the first course
of treatment for ADHD.
But the majority of patients still have some symptoms even after
being prescribed drugs, said study author Steven A. Safren,
director of behavioral medicine in the department of psychiatry at
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
After a pilot study of cognitive behavioral therapy and ADHD was
successful, Safren and his colleagues decided to embark on a larger
This randomized, controlled trial involved 86 adults with ADHD
already on medication who were randomized to receive 12 sessions of
cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or combined
The CBT involved learning how to address tasks throughout the
day and think more flexibly. The control group involved education
and muscle and other relaxation techniques.
Seventy of the participants were included in the final
Patients in the CBT group saw more relief of their symptoms than
those in the control group as assessed by several different scales.
The improvements lasted the whole year.
Safren does not see CBT replacing drugs as a mainstay of ADHD
"ADHD is a neurobiological disorder, but this might help in addition to medication and we may be able to do this in people who can't tolerate drugs," he said.
The questions are whether patients will go for it and whether
insurance companies will pay for it.
But, said Bergeron, "this is proof that [CBT] does make a
difference in someone's life."
U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more
Copyright © 2010
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.