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New Method Helps Treat ADHD Aggression

A new study reports on a unique method to address aggression among children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers from Stony Brook University School of Medicine found that intensive stimulant therapy in conjunction with behavioral therapy could significantly reduce aggression among children whose aggressive behavior was not effectively controlled during routine outpatient care.

They found that almost half of children with ADHD and aggressive behaviors responded to “first-line” stimulant treatments tailored to individual needs, along with behavioral therapy.

The study findings are found in an early online edition of Pediatrics.

“The results of our research strongly suggest that more intensive and methodical approaches to prescribing stimulants may reduce the need to resort to antipsychotic medications to control severe aggression among children with ADHD,” says leads researcher Dr. Joseph C. Blader.

“And our findings are especially significant in light of recent concerns about the proliferation in the use of other medications with greater side effects, such as antipsychotic medication, than standard stimulant medication when treating children with ADHD who display aggressive behavior.”

Dr. Blader and colleagues studied 65 children between the ages of 6 and 13 who were diagnosed with ADHD and either oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.

All of the children exhibited significant aggressive behavior and all had been treated unsuccessfully with standard doses of methylphenidate or dextroamphetamine, the active ingredients in stimulant medications that are standard treatments for ADHD.

The research team sufficiently reduced aggression in 32 of the 65 children (49 percent) after individually optimizing stimulant doses along with behavioral therapy. This dosage change also avoided any significant side effects in the patient grouping.

Dr. Blader explained that although established guidelines for the treatment of ADHD recommend careful and frequent dosage monitoring, as well as dose adjustments like those provided by the research team, previously published analyses came to a different conclusion than what he and his colleagues discovered.

Previous analyses of medical claims suggested that such a treatment approach is uncommon in primary care settings, and only moderately better when implemented in specialty settings.

The study was funded by a Research Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to Dr. Blader. Additional support came from the General Clinical Research Center at SBUMC.

The research team is currently collaborating on a SBU-led study evaluating treatment operations for children whose aggressive behavior remains problematic even after optimized ADHD medication. This research is also supported by NIMH.

Source: Stony Brook University Medical Center

New Method Helps Treat ADHD Aggression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). New Method Helps Treat ADHD Aggression. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 17 Sep 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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