Sustained treatment effect in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: focus on long-term placebo-controlled randomized maintenance withdrawal and open-label studies
David W Goodman
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
Abstract: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that often persists throughout life. Approximately two-thirds of patients with a childhood diagnosis of ADHD continue to experience clinically significant symptoms into adulthood. Nevertheless, most of these individuals consider themselves “well,” and a vast majority discontinue medication treatment during adolescence. As evidence concerning the adult presentation of ADHD becomes more widely accepted, increasing numbers of physicians and patients will face decisions about the benefits and risks of continuing ADHD treatment. The risks associated with psychostimulant pharmacotherapy, including abuse, dependence, and cardiovascular events, are well understood. Multiple clinical trials demonstrate the efficacy of psychostimulants in controlling ADHD symptoms in the short term. Recent investigations using randomized withdrawal designs now provide evidence of a clinically significant benefit with continued long-term ADHD pharmacotherapy and provide insight into the negative consequences associated with discontinuation. Because many patients lack insight regarding their ADHD symptoms and impairments, they may place a low value on maintaining treatment. Nevertheless, for patients who choose to discontinue treatment, physicians can remain a source of support and schedule follow-up appointments to reassess patient status. Medication discontinuation can be used as an opportunity to help patients recognize their most impairing symptoms, learn and implement behavioral strategies to cope with ADHD symptoms, and understand when additional supportive resources and the resumption of medication management may be necessary.
Keywords: psychostimulant, nonstimulant, adult, child
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