Pharmacotherapy and Psychotherapy for Treating ADHD

In recent years, the diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become increasingly common. According to an article in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, “ADHD has a global prevalence of 5.9% to 7.1% in children and 1.2% to 7.3% in adults.” Several theories aim to address the increasing prevalence of ADHD, including greater public and professional awareness of the condition. Nevertheless, discussing effective treatment options for those with ADHD is crucial for motivating treatment engagement and recovery. 

Alter Behavioral Health is a mental health treatment center that is devoted to the success, creativity, and happiness of all individuals. We offer a wide range of therapeutic programs and services to individuals seeking treatment and recovery from all types of mental health concerns. Moreover, we specialize in the treatment of ADHD using a combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy treatments. 

Understanding ADHD

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that ADHD “is marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is most commonly diagnosed during childhood. However, it is important to note that many individuals do not receive a proper ADHD diagnosis until they reach adulthood. 

The type and severity of signs and symptoms of ADHD vary on a case-by-case basis. For example, some people may only struggle with symptoms of inattention, while most struggle with symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Some examples of symptoms that a person with ADHD may exhibit include:

  • Inattention:
    • Difficulties with staying on task
    • Inability to sustain focus
    • Issues with staying organized
    • Frequently overlooking important details at work or school
    • Issues with following through on instructions
    • Avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort
    • Constantly losing important items
    • Being easily distracted
  • Hyperactivity-impulsivity
    • Restlessness
    • Difficulties with acknowledging potential long-term consequences of behaviors
    • Low tolerance for frustration
    • Excessively talking
    • Constantly in motion
    • Issues with sitting or staying still
    • Anxiety

Dismantling the Stigma of ADHD

Despite being a legit mental health condition, ADHD is commonly addressed using humor and stereotypes. For example, those with ADHD may be identified as lazy, inconsistent, and careless. In an attempt to dismantle hurtful stigma, it is important to recognize that individuals with ADHD struggle significantly in completing and following through with tasks. Like all other mental health disorders, this is because ADHD deeply affects the brain. 

ADHD in the Brain

According to an article in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, the brains of those with ADHD experience dysregulation in various neural pathways and regions involved in attention, impulse control, and stimulus integration. Additionally, ADHD is the result of neurotransmitter deficiencies that would otherwise activate the brain’s reward system properly. 

One of these neurotransmitters that is often shorted due to ADHD is norepinephrine. Combined with deficiencies in other related neurotransmitters, a person with ADHD is unable to concentrate effectively or experience value in daily activities. Moreover, impulsive behavior is heightened through an urge to stimulate neurotransmitter-generating activities. 

Those with ADHD should not feel ashamed or guilty for their inability to follow through with tasks or for their impulsive behavior. ADHD is a condition that can affect anyone, and therefore, its symptoms have no reflection upon an individual’s character. Fortunately, there are a host of treatment options available for symptom management and treatment of ADHD. 

Treating ADHD

The first step in treating ADHD is receiving a diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional. When seeking a diagnosis, an individual can ask questions and become more informed about the underlying factors that drive their ADHD symptoms. Additionally, a professional can suggest the most effective treatment options available for healing. 

At Alter Behavioral Health, our primary treatment approaches for ADHD include pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all for treatment, which is why we can personalize our client’s treatment plans to fit their unique needs and goals. 


This treatment involves the use of pharmaceutical medications to treat various symptoms of ADHD. Stimulants are the most effective medication type for ADHD, as they work to increase dopamine levels and other important neurotransmitters in the brain. As a result of stimulant medications, an individual may experience increased motivation, pleasure, and attention. 

It is important to highlight that using medication for a mental health disorder is not as simple as taking a prescription and experiencing an immediate reduction in symptoms. Often, medication is a process that takes time, often referred to as medication management. Working with a qualified mental health professional, a person may need to trial different medication types and dosages to ensure effective results. Additionally, understand that medication can take a few weeks to work properly. 

Moreover, medication is often not enough on its own to cease the symptoms of ADHD. An individual will need to address the connections that lie between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to experience lasting healing and recovery. In this way, pharmacotherapy in combination with psychotherapy often informs the most effective results. 


Although psychotherapy may not be enough on its own to treat ADHD, it can be extremely effective when used in tandem with prescription stimulants. Often, individuals with ADHD leave their condition untreated or are not properly diagnosed until adulthood. When ADHD is untreated or left undiagnosed, it can wreak havoc on an individual’s life. Once that individual begins treatment, they will need to address and navigate the consequences that their ADHD has had on their life. 

With psychotherapy, an individual will learn coping skills and stress management techniques for navigating common maladaptive thoughts and behavior patterns that often result from ADHD. For example, habitual cycles of negative self-talk and other self-destructive behaviors, such as substance use, can be common. Therefore, by regularly working with a therapist in psychotherapy, a person can break out of these patterns and begin to identify with an ever-healing, ever-changing self. 

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. However, it is a highly stigmatized condition, with those with ADHD often labeled as “lazy” or “careless.” Nonetheless, it is a condition that results from neurotransmitter deficiencies in the brain. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment approaches that can help with symptom management for those with ADHD. At Alter Behavioral Health, we are committed to providing excellent mental health care to adults seeking healing. We specialize in the treatment of mental health and co-occurring disorders, highlighting our use of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy for the treatment of ADHD. To learn more about our programs and options, give us a call today at (866) 691-4386.