Treatments for ADHD and other behavioural disorders

Living with a behavioural disorder isn’t always easy but there's a range of treatments for ADHD, and other behavioural disorders, that can help you manage symptoms. Psychological therapies are the most common treatment, though in some cases, particularly with ADHD, medication is also used. It’s important to review your treatment plan regularly, particularly if you’re struggling to manage day-to-day.

This could help if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with a behavioural disorder
  • You want to know more about how behavioural disorders are treated
  • You’re concerned about your treatment plan


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Why treatments for ADHD and other behavioural disorders is important

Having a behavioural disorder like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), or conduct disorder (CD) can really interfere with how a person is able to function in their personal, school and work life. 

There is no ‘cure’ for a behavioural disorder; however, there are things that can be done to manage its impact on your life. These include the use of psychological therapies and sometimes medication. If you have a behavioural disorder, the sooner you get treatment, the quicker and easier managing your symptoms will be, so it’s really important that you seek assistance from health professionals to develop a treatment plan. 

Treatments for ADHD and other behavioural disorders

Usually, treating a behavioural disorder involves developing skills to help you work at reducing and managing unusual and disruptive behaviour. The main way to do that is through various psychological therapies. 

If you have ADHD, medication is also often used to help manage symptoms. However, symptoms will recur when the medication is stopped, so they are often used in combination with other treatments.  

Psychological treatment

There are a range of psychological treatments which can be used to treat ADHD and other behavioural disorders. These include: 

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (also known as CBT). CBT is used to help improve: problem solving skills; moral reasoning skills; impulse control; and anger management. 

  • Psycho-education. Psycho-education involves educating and empowering a person and their family about their behavioural disorder and how best to manage it. In this type of therapy, your counsellor acts more like an instructor to teach you about the disorder.

  • Awareness training. This helps you to develop an increased awareness of yourself, your behaviour, and your environment. In doing so you’re more in tune with how you think, feel and act. When you understand the reasons behind particular reactions and behaviours, it’s easier to stop or control them. 

  • Social skills training. This involves training people to develop the skills they need to deal with anger and frustration, resolve conflict and learn more generally about what is socially appropriate behaviour. 

  • Group therapy. Helps families and loved ones work together with the person with a behavioural disorder. It works by finding solutions to any challenges that can arise when living together. It also explores ways to support family members with a behavioural disorder. 
Physical treatment (Medication)

Medication can be given to treat ADHD, but it won’t cure the disorder. It treats the symptoms, and once the medication wears off, the symptoms will appear again. 

Some of the drugs used are stimulants, however for people with ADHD they have the reverse effect and actually help someone to be more calm and focused. Other medications used are a special type of anti-depressant that has been found to reduce ADHD symptoms. There are some side effects of medication used to treat ADHD, so it’s important to have regular check-ups with a health professional to keep track of any side effects. 

There are no specific drugs used to treat other behavioural disorders. In some cases where a behavioural disorder is negatively impacting on someone’s life, to the point of serious distress or depression, antidepressants are used to treat depression symptoms. 

If you’re struggling with your symptoms

It’s important to talk about your treatment plans regularly with your doctors. If you’re finding it hard to manage in day to day life, or you’re curious about a particular treatment method, visit your doctor or mental health professional. They’ll be able to properly assess if you need to change medication or get further help.

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Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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