NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also called ADHD, is a common disorder in kids, but adults suffer from it too.
Up to 5 percent of American adults struggle with the symptoms of ADHD, but now a new approach to treatment could help millions.
Those adults who suffer from the illness may be constantly late, have problems at work or difficulty controlling their anger. The symptoms take a toll on every aspect of life and often result in low self-esteem and depression.
Medications have been shown to help the symptoms, but now a new form of therapy is making an even bigger difference.
Brian Harrington lives with Adult ADHD and says his inability to completely daily tasks was making life stressful. He’s been receiving cognitive behavioral therapy, a treatment which helps him break down hard-to-do tasks into smaller, workable pieces.
“When I started working this program I started to acquire the skills that allowed me to mediate the ADHD in addition to the medicines that I had been on before,” Harrington said.
Dr. Steven Safren of Massachusetts General Hospital said the therapy fills in the areas that medication alone can’t help.
“Medications don’t do everything,” said Dr. Safren. “They turn the volume down on symptoms but they don’t teach people skills to manage their symptoms.”
Dr. Safren conducted a trial of the behavior therapy on people with ADHD who were already being treated with medication.
“What we targeted in the treatment were things like organizing and planning difficulties,” he said. “Maintaining a calendar and task list system, we helped people with skills for distractibility, breaking overwhelming tasks into steps as well as selecting an action plan.”
The study appears in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers found a 67 percent response rate in people who got the cognitive behavioral therapy – that’s compared to only a 33 percent response rate in people did not
“This is one of the first efficacy studies that really shows that such a treatment can help patients,” said Dr. Safren.
It worked for Brian Harrington.
“It really did give me the tools to understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “But more importantly, being a more effective employee and happier guy.”
Researchers say effects from the cognitive behavioral therapy lasted for a year.
Generally, treatment requires at least 12 sessions. The researchers are publishing a workbook, so patients can review the program at home.