Therapy In Practice


, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 309-325

First online:

Pharmacotherapy of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adolescents

  • Ann C. ChildressAffiliated withCenter for Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Inc. Email author 
  • , Sally A. BerryAffiliated withNextWave Pharmaceuticals

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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioural disorder in children and adolescents, consisting of developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. The majority of children with ADHD will continue to experience significant ADHD symptoms as teens. ADHD in adolescents can result in significant functional impairment and poorer quality of life. Children and adolescents with ADHD are at higher risk of developing other psychiatric illnesses such as mood, conduct and substance abuse disorders. Stimulants (amphetamines and methylphenidates) and nonstimulants (atomoxetine, guanfacine extended-release (XR) and clonidine XR) have been found to be effective and are approved by the US FDA for the treatment of ADHD in adolescents in the US. Of the agents approved in the US, only guanfacine XR and clonidine XR are not approved in any other countries. There is growing evidence that treatment of ADHD with stimulants reduces the risk of development of other psychiatric co-morbidities, including substance abuse disorders. To date, all FDA-approved stimulants and nonstimulants that have been adequately studied have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in treating ADHD in both children and adolescents. Therefore, clinical decisions used in selecting pharmacotherapy to treat ADHD in children aged 6–12 years can be applied in the adolescent population.