ADHD Medicine

ADHD medicine is an important component of treating Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. While optimal or best outcomes also includes a variety of therapies the use of a safe and effective medicine is an integral part of the overall treatment plan. This does not mean they are 100% effective nor does it mean that any ADHD medicine is 100% without side effects. ADHD, a common disorder with both mental or brain components and behavior symptoms that affects children and adults. ADHD can be somewhat problematic to diagnose because it shares many similar symptoms with symptoms of other medical and psychiatric disorders. In fact too much caffeine and/or sugar can even cause temporary hyperactivity so therefore, it is very important to receive a thorough examination from a qualified mental health clinician in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

ADHD And...

ADHD can be confused with other illnesses or potential factors which may be causing those symptoms. Click on a link listed below where you will find more information about that topic:


Children and ADHD Medication

Many of the research studies into the incidence of ADHD suggests that the diagnosis of ADHD is being made more commonly in boys than in girls. It is not clear if boys actually have a higher propensity of developing ADHD than Girls or if it is just more recognizable in boys than girls. It has been suggested that the reason behind this implication is that boys tend to exhibit the symptoms that are more readily recognized, such as impulsivity or general hyperactivity more so than girls. However, the brain chemistry that appears to be causing these symptoms is the same, and therefore the same ADHD medications would be used in both boys and girls for ADHD. Historically the earliest used and first studied medicine for use with ADHD in children is one of the stimulant forms of ADHD medications such as amphetamine or methylphenidate. These synthetic chemical stimulants work to counteract the symptoms of ADHD by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, two neurotransmitters which contribute to sustaining healthy levels of attention and executive function. In recent years several non-stimulant medicines have been introduced for the treatment of ADHD, such as atomoxetine.

For a list of medications that are used with ADHD, click here.

Adults and ADHD Medication

There are several FDA-approved medications which have proven to help adults with ADHD. However, some ADHD medicine may not be as effective with one individual as it might be with another. It is sometimes necessary for an adult with ADHD to try more than one of these medications before finding one that works. Some of these approved medications include:

  • Strattera®
  • Intuniv®
  • Antidepressants
  • Concerta®
  • Focalin XR®

Please note: Full prescribing information is several pages long, and specific information about any one of these medications should be discussed with your physician before you or a family member would begin taking it. This page is meant only to provide background information and prompt more in depth discussions with your health care provider. In addition, some adults who have ADHD may have additional medical problems which may complicate or at least warrant in depth discussions with your doctor before you would begin taking a drug for ADHD. Some of these medical problems could include:

  • Glaucoma
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Drug addiction issues

In addition to taking medication, outcome studies are now suggesting that persons with ADHD may find the best treatment outcome by combining adding a variety of therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling that centers on coping skills and vocational supervision. Group therapy has also been proven to be a successful part of an overall successful treatment plan.

Side Effects of ADHD Medication

As with all medication, there can be side effects which affect individuals with varying degrees of severity. Some of those associated with ADHD medicine include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Increased general anxiety
  • Depression

By the time a drug is approved for use in ADHD its side effects are expected to usually be mild and even in some cases will disappear as someone becomes accustomed to the medication. Sometimes, the dosage may need to be adjusted for better efficacy or less side effects. Some individuals may need to try one or more different medicines before they find one that is best for them.

Effectiveness of ADHD Medications

In approximately 60% to 80% of ADHD sufferers, ADHD medicine will reduce symptoms within three to six weeks of starting the medication. Hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity have been noticeably improved in the clinical studies done with these types of medications. However, there are studies which reveal that although stimulants can benefit someone with ADHD, some people will continue to experience relationship and work problems even though some of their symptoms seemed to have subsided. This may indicate a co-morbid condition where the individual has some other underlying personality or mental problem which may need to be addressed separately from ADHD. It is also important to remember that the best outcomes may not be achieved unless therapy is added to the medicine regimen.


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This site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services.