Adult ADHD: The Effects of Group CBT

NewStudy-Graphic-72x72_edited-3 A recent study in the Journal of Attention Disorders showed that brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) group sessions help to significantly decrease the psychological consequences of ADHD.

Adults diagnosed with ADHD are more likely than other adults to suffer from a range of social and emotional consequences, including co-morbid disorders. These comorbid disorders include anxiety, depression, personality disorder, substance abuse, academic underachievement, occupational problems, social interaction and relationship difficulties, low self-esteem, and poor self-identity. These additional symptoms are in large part due to adult patients’ late diagnosis and the adverse reactions their behavior prior to diagnosis aroused from others.

Typical treatment for adults with ADHD is medication to suppress the main symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity, yet controlled studies have shown that 20%-50% of participants are nonresponsive to treatment (due to lack of symptom control and inability to tolerate medication). For those considered respondents, only 50% or fewer symptoms have found to be reduced by medication. The current study aimed to discover the effects group CBT psychotherapy would have, in addition to pharmacological treatments, in helping to treat the sequelae comorbid psychological symptoms of ADHD.

Forty males and 21 females diagnosed with ADHD signed up to participate in six consecutive CBT group therapy sessions in addition to taking medication for ADHD (two of the participants in this group decided to participate in the therapy before starting medications), and were compared to 21 males and 16 females, that were on the CBT group therapy waiting list, who were treated with medication only. The CBT therapy sessions consisted of psychoeducation about ADHD, as well as skills training in order to teach better coping skills in participants’ reactions to anger, low self-esteem and self-efficacy, inattention, impulse control, all-or-nothing thinking, disorganization, time management, and problem solving.

The researchers found that the addition of CBT to medication treatment, as opposed to medication-only treatment, for adults with ADHD significantly increased patients’ understanding about ADHD in general. In addition, they found CBT and medication significantly improved the self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy of participants, as compared with those participants receiving only medication. The researchers concluded that CBT group therapy may be an acceptable and cost-effective addition to medication for adults treated for ADHD.

Study authors: J. Branham, S. Young, A. Bickerdike, D. Spain, D. McCartan, K. Xenitidis

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