Cognitive Therapy Improves Adult ADHD Symptoms

More effective than relaxation therapy; gains are found during therapy and maintained a year later

TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive behavioral therapy may be an effective complementary treatment for adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for whom medication falls short of relieving their symptoms, according to research published in the Aug. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Steven A. Safren, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues randomized 86 adult ADHD patients with clinically significant symptoms already being treated medicinally to 12 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy or relaxation with educational support.

After treatment, the researchers found that subjects who received cognitive behavioral therapy had lower Clinical Global Impression scale and ADHD rating scale scores than those in the relaxation group. During treatment, self-reported symptoms were significantly more improved for the cognitive behavior therapy group, and gains were maintained at six and 12 months in responders and partial responders in this group. There were also more treatment responders in this group than the relaxation group for the Clinical Global Impression scale (53 versus 23 percent) and the ADHD rating scale (67 versus 33 percent).

"These results demonstrate that the type of cognitive behavioral therapy studied has effects over and above time and attention with a therapist, and that gains were sustained over follow-up. This trial successfully documents the usefulness of this type of cognitive behavioral therapy as a next-step strategy for patients with ADHD who are treated with medications but continue to have residual symptoms," the authors write.

Three authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies and/or medical device companies.

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