This FDA-Approved Treatment For ADHD May Surprise You

When people think of ADHD and its treatment options, there is usually only one thing that comes to mind. Adderall. But people with ADHD and advocates for better understanding of the condition are quick to point out that this is not the only way to treat ADHD. In fact, for some people with the condition, the drug isn't helpful at all. And that is why many people with ADHD use a combination of treatment options.

This combination is necessary because ADHD is not a diagnosis based off one single symptom the way most people assume it is. According to the CDC, ADHD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that presents in one of three ways.

The "predominantly hyperactive-impulse presentation" is the one most people feel familiar with. Symptoms include an inability to sit for long periods of time or partake in one leisure activity, excessive talking, interrupting people, and feeling constantly driven to move.

A "predominantly inattentive presentation" can include symptoms such as a seeming inability to listen when spoken to, making careless mistakes, a forgetful nature, and a tendency toward distraction. The third presentation is "combination presentation," where symptoms are noted from both of the other two presentations.

With a range of symptoms like this, it is easy to see why one treatment option does not treat everyone. Thankfully there are many options like counseling, behavioral hacks, and organization aids, in addition to Adderall. And now the FDA has approved a new option: a prescription video game.


The game is called "EndeavorRX." According to the game's website, it uses "sensory stimuli and simultaneous motor challenges" to work the parts of the brain that control our attention span. CNN reports that the game was approved for prescription use in 2020 for children aged 8-12 with certain types of ADHD, though neither the company's site nor CNN specific subset of ADHD.

The game is available through its own website and through most app stores. Logging in requires a pass that comes with the prescription, however. And while the game's site says that many insurers cover the prescription, there are some that may not. The game — and the concept of video game treatments — is simply too new.

"EndeavorRX" itself is so new that only one major study has been carried out on its effects. Published in the medical journal The Lancet, the study describes how the game addresses the way ADHD brains have lower activity in the frontal, ventral, and frontoparietal areas of the brain. The game's specific mechanics stimulate these areas to increase attention. 

That's the theory at least. It is important to note that the study was conducted by researchers employed by the game's developer. And that this study concluded that "EndeavorRX" could not replace other forms of ADHD treatment, although it still recommends the game as part of a treatment group. And with a condition as varied as ADHD, it's always good to have more options in the toolkit.