Combination of medications helps reduce symptoms of ADHD: Study

Children, at times, undergo phases when they are anxious and distraught, which is a normal part of growing up and does not necessarily require treatment. However, parents must take some action when their children persistently behave in a different manner from the others of their age as this could be a sign of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which requires immediate medical attention.

Certain medications, along with behavioral therapy, successfully treat children with ADHD. But many a times, these medications may not improve long-term social, academic and clinical outcomes. Looking at the ineffectiveness of the available therapy for ADHD, a team of researchers from the UCLA Semel Institute aimed to find out effective treatment strategies to facilitate the management of disruptive symptoms. They performed three interlocking studies to examine the impact of administering a combination of standard medications to ADHD children on their cognitive, clinical and brain activity measures.

Combination of treatments more beneficial than standard medications

Most clinical studies testing effective treatment strategies do not look at the benefit of using biomarkers of patients’ response to ADHD treatment that could help researchers understand why treatment response differs from person to person. But in the latest study, the researchers tried to find out an effective treatment which could act as a promising approach to address the core symptoms of ADHD.

Led by researchers James McCracken, Sandra Loo, and Robert Bilder, the study enrolled children and adolescents, with or without ADHD, in the age group of seven to 14 years. Children with ADHD were administered either d-methylphenidate, guanfacine, or a combination of the two, for a period of eight weeks.

The results revealed that the combined treatment was, by far, more beneficial than the two standard medications and showed positive outcomes on both clinical and cognitive aspects, as well as on the brain wave activity (EEG). The clinical response was found to elevate from 62-63 percent in single drug therapy to 75 percent in the combined drug therapy.

As per the scientists, an overall improvement in ADHD symptoms may have a positive outcome in the long-term as less severe symptoms may lead to higher chances of recovery. Though cognitive functioning indicated a partly distinct pattern of improvement, working memory showed positive results with both single and combination treatment. Moreover, in the EEG study, only the combination therapy was found to reduce ADHD symptoms and enhance cognitive functions, thus improving the brain activity patterns.

Precisely, the three studies demonstrated that the combination therapy was the best treatment strategy across a range of functions, including significant improvements in working memory performance, ADHD symptoms and brain activity pattern.

Considering cognition as major outcome

Though further research is needed, the latest study definitely highlighted the importance of recognizing cognition as the most important outcome. “The use of objective biological measures in diagnosis and treatment can also help to reduce stigma, increase acceptance of the disorder, and more accurately track treatment response to yield better outcomes,” said Loo.

As per the scientists, the combination therapy, comprising stimulants and medications like guanfacine, can go a long way in helping children combat the devastating symptoms of ADHD.

Road to recovery

The long-term effects of ADHD can lead to aggressiveness and emotional immaturity in children. That’s why a proper diagnosis of ADHD is important to decode the complications and problems and to help children cope with various disabilities.

If you or a loved one is suffering from ADHD or any other mental disorder, you may contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to find the best mental health centers. Call at our helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online to get in touch with state-of-the-art mental health rehabilitation centers and start the journey to recovery today.