ADHD Medications

ADHD medications can be very effective in controlling the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or ADHD). Most medications approved for use in ADHD are stimulants - relying on one of two primary base compounds that being amphetamine or methylphenidate. Listed below are several non stimulant medications that are also approved for use with ADHD. Stimulants prescribed for ADHD include:

STIMULANT Medications

  • Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA (methylphenidate)
  • Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • Metadate CD, Metadate CD (methylphenidate)
  • Focalin, Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Methylin, Methylin ER (methylphenidate)
  • Adderall, Adderall XR (combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
  • Daytrana (methylphenidate skin patch)
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)

NON-Stimulant Medications

Non-stimulants are also prescribed, however and can also be quite effective - including:

  • Strattera (Atomoxetine), for use with children, teens, and adults

  • Intuniv (guanfacine) for use in children aged 6-17

  • Kapvay (clonidine) for use alone or in combination with other agents

  • Catapres and Tenex, anti-hypertensives which help control impulsive and aggressive behavior; and

  • Bupropion, an antidepressant found in such medications as Wellbutrin.

Treating Other Conditions and ADHD

While the usual symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, other mental health conditions may also exist, such as anxiety, which may also need to be treated with medication. Children especially may continue to exhibit a higher level of behavioral problems than other children in the same age group. It hasn't yet been established that ADHD medicines improve people's long-term social, educational, and occupational functioning. Many people choose to use other therapies in conjunction with ADHD medications.

Strattera Advisory

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) has issued advisories on Strattera and antidepressants, saying that parents and other caregivers should watch closely for warning signs of suicide in children and teens taking this medication. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines, only that people using the medication be warned of the health risks. In addition, anyone taking Strattera should call their doctor if they experience nausea or stomach pain, if they feel lightheaded or dizzy, or if their skin turns yellow.

Other Drug-Related Complications

All ADHD medications also come with an FDA warning about possible heart-related or mental problems. Anyone starting a medicine for ADHD should tell their doctor whether they have heart problems, heart defects, or a history of mental illness. Stimulant medications, even those approved for ADHD, are one of the most abused substances on college campus. Used off label by students who think it helps them stay awake to cram for tests it is common for students to share their medications or have them stolen. Care should be undertaken in this setting to safeguard the medications or perhaps considering a non stimulant medication to see if efficacy is there, and the risk of abuse can be taken away.

Ages Matters

While the FDA has approved most ADHD medications for children ages 3 and up, there have been few studies on the long-term effects of these medications on children under the age of 5. Most doctors will not prescribe medicines for a child until he or she has started school, especially since younger children are most likely to exhibit negative side effects from medicines.

Growth May Be Slowed

For example, in a recent three-year study, children who took stimulants grew almost half-an-inch slower every year than children not on stimulants. The study followed 540 youngsters with ADHD who were ages 7 to 9 at the start of the study. More studies are needed to find out if growth is affected at other ages (younger than age 7, for instance, or older than age 9) or whether children taking these medicines might catch up over a period of time. As with any medicine, parents should think about not only the benefits their child might receive from these medicines but also the potential risks. Stimulants although not approved for use in this manner, have been used to help people lose weight - the biggest problem when used in adults in this manner as soon as it was stopped many of these people gained all weight back and more.

When several symptoms affect a child's behavior and quality of life, however, doctors can often be prevailed upon to prescribe ADHD medications, so long as the parents or caregivers supervise the children closely and are apprised of the possible side effects.


More information about Medications for ADHD:

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