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Non-Medicine Treatment Options for ADHD

Non-Medicine Treatment Options for ADHD

This article is for parents and care partners of people living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anyone who wants to learn more about non-medicine treatment options for ADHD, including digital options. The goal of this patient education activity is to increase knowledge about these treatments.

You will learn about:

  • What ADHD is and how it may be treated

  • Non-medicine treatment options for children living with ADHD

  • What a prescription non-medicine digital treatment, or prescription digital therapeutic (PDT), is

  • PDTs allowed for use for ADHD

  • Talking to your doctor about your child's ADHD treatment plan

Prescription medical devices listed in this activity have either a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval or clearance. The content in this activity is accurate based on the information that was available at the time of its publication. This resource is provided for educational and informational purposes only. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic, or long-term, neurodevelopmental condition (how the nerves and brain develop and grow). It can be found, or diagnosed, any time from preschool age to adulthood, but is usually first diagnosed during childhood.

Symptoms of ADHD can include:

  • Inattention, or a hard time paying attention

  • Impulsiveness, or acting or speaking before thinking about the consequences

  • Hyperactivity, or too much activity or restlessness

Not every child will have every ADHD symptom, and not all symptoms are listed here. Be sure to ask your doctor for a full list.

Treating ADHD

For children, ADHD can impact their ability to do homework, follow rules, and have good relationships. There is no cure for ADHD, but there is treatment that can help kids manage their symptoms and improve their functioning at home, at school, and in social situations.

You and your child's doctor will make a treatment plan for ADHD that may include medicine, behavior therapy and training, counseling, a digital treatment/device, lifestyle measures, and getting support. Together, these tools can help you find ways to make everyday life easier for your child.

Non-Medicine Treatment Options for ADHD

Non-medicine treatments for children living with ADHD that may be used alone or in combination, including sometimes with medicine, can include:

  • Lifestyle measures, such as exercise, nutrition, and getting enough sleep

  • Behavioral therapy to strengthen positive behaviors and stop unwanted or problem ones

  • Behavior management training for parents and care partners to learn skills and strategies to help their child

  • Counseling to help understand how ADHD affects your child and others

  • A digital treatment/device called a prescription digital therapeutic (PDT)

  • School support to improve relationships and academic performance

  • Community support groups for information and guidance on ADHD

Dr Ann Childress talks about the different types of non-medicine treatment options that may be recommended for children living with ADHD.

What Is a PDT?

A PDT is a medical device that your doctor may recommend as a treatment option to help your health or to help prevent, manage, or treat a certain medical condition. PDTs use technology as their main treatment method instead of medicine. Certain PDTs, however, may also be used in combination with medicine or another type of treatment.

PDTs are designed to favorably impact a specific health need or medical condition for a certain group of people, such as ADHD for children of a certain age.

How PDTs Are Determined to Be Safe and Effective

PDTs are held to similar safety and efficacy (how well they work) standards by the FDA as other medical devices and prescription medicines. The FDA will carefully review a PDT, then may give it an approval or a clearance to be allowed for use. Approval means the PDT provides enough benefits to outweigh any known and potential risks. Clearance means it has been shown to be reasonably safe and effective for its intended use.

While many digital health products are unregulated, PDTs are regulated by the FDA. And unlike wellness apps, medication reminders, health tools, or digital treatments you can get without a prescription, PDTs have been reviewed by the FDA for safety and for their ability to cause a specific change in your health, function, or quality of life.

PDTs Allowed for Use for ADHD 

Currently, there are 2 PDTs allowed for use for kids living with ADHD -- EndeavorRx® and Monarch eTNS (external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation) System®. Both have been cleared by the FDA and require a prescription by your doctor.

EndeavorRx® is an interactive PDT used like a video game for kids 8 to 12 years of age. It works to help your child more easily pay attention and should be used with other treatments as part of an ADHD treatment plan -- it should not be used alone or as a substitute for ADHD medicine. Side effects that may happen can include frustration, headache, dizziness, emotional reaction, nausea, and aggression.

PDTs Allowed for Use for ADHD (cont)

Monarch eTNS System® is a PDT for kids 7 to 12 years of age. It sends a low-level electrical pulse through a wire to a small patch applied to the child's forehead and stimulates the nerves and areas of the brain involved in ADHD. It works to increase activity in the areas important for attention, emotion, and behavior. It should be used as a standalone treatment (monotherapy) for children who are not currently taking prescription ADHD medicines and used at home by a parent or care partner during certain periods of time when their child is sleeping. The most common side effects that may happen are drowsiness, increased appetite, trouble sleeping, teeth clenching, headache, and fatigue (tiredness).

Talking to Your Doctor About Your Child's ADHD Treatment Plan

No 2 children living with ADHD are exactly alike. So talk to your doctor about your child's treatment plan and if non-medicine treatments may be recommended.

Questions you can ask your doctor can include:

  • What non-medicine treatment options are available?

  • How does my child use non-medicine treatments and how will we know if they're working?

  • Will my child need to use other types of treatments, such as medicine, as well?

  • Where can I find additional information and resources?

Crystal talks about her family's journey and making ADHD treatment plans for her children with their doctors.

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You have successfully completed the program: Non-Medicine Treatment Options for ADHD.

View Additional Materials on this topic that you may find useful:

What is Digital Health?

Understanding ADHD

ADHD Fact Sheet

CHADD ADHD Fact Sheets

Authors and Disclosures


Ann Childress, MD

President, Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

Disclosure: Ann Childress, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:Served as an advisor or consultant for: Adlon; Arbor; Cingulate; Ironshore; Jazz; KemPharm; Lumos; Neos Therapeutics; Noven; Otsuka; Pfizer; Purdue; Rhodes; Sunovion; Supernus; Takeda; Tris.Served as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Ironshore; KemPharm; Supernus; Takeda; Tris.Received grants for clinical research from: Adlon; Akili; Allergan; Arbor; Emalex; Ironshore; KemPharm; Neos Therapeutics; Otsuka; Pfizer; Purdue; Rhodes; Sunovion; Supernus; Takeda; Tris.Other: Writing Support: Adlon; Arbor; Otsuka; Pfizer; Purdue; Rhodes; Sunovion; Takeda.Ownership of an ineligible company: Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Inc.; Clinical Research of Southern Nevada, LLC

Clinician Reviewer

Joy P. Marko, MS, APN-c, CCMEP

Senior Medical Education Director, Medscape, LLC.

Disclosure: Joy P Marko, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh

Associate Director, Content Development, Medscape, LLC.

Disclosure: Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


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