There are many different ADHD meds which have been shown to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD, none of them have been shown to actually "cure" attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. In some cases, persons who have ADHD may seemingly grow out of it. Others have found that they will carry these symptoms well into adulthood and will need to find effective treatments well into adulthood, if not for a lifetime.

Clinical studies in large numbers of patients show that ADHD meds lessen the attention difficulty, impulsivity and hyperactivity in these patients. ADHD symptoms are part of the story - while medication may lessen these symptoms, other issues like struggles with social difficulties, emotional regulation and relationship problems may require other types of therapy - behavior therapy for example. Many individuals will experience dramatic and beneficial effects when taking an initial ADHD prescription medication; others may may have to experiment with several different medications until finding one that works the best.

Short and Long Acting ADHD Drugs

ADHD meds that are available in both short-acting and long-acting molecules. The majority of approved medications are from a class of drugs called stimulants. The original members of this class carried a high potential for abuse. Those stimulants currently approved for ADHD are considered generally safe when used as directed, but care should be exercised because of the are still controlled substances and are extremely popular. Some of these medications are short acting, which means that they will not work all day long and may have to be taken 2 to 3 times a day in order to cover symptoms for 24 hours. Because of this, some of the short acting medications have been formulated into extended release forms, which means that you may get by with only taking one pill a day in hopes that you will see if work for at least 12 hours. Some ADHD medications, especially stimulants, actually may have a side effect of wakefulness, in other words they can cause patients to have a difficult time of sleeping. A non stimulant medication approved for ADHD may be preferable if it does not cause difficulty sleeping and its length of action is a full 24 hours.

Side Effects of Both Short and Long Term ADHD drugs

No two persons are the same when it comes to side effects. Some side effects are barely noticeable to some people taking ADHD meds; others may experience more severe side effects and will have to adjust the dose or change medications to balance having a desired positive effect on ADHD symptoms, and minimizing the side effects. Some common side effects may include:

  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Cyclic moods
  • Depression
  • Palpitation
  • Tics
  • Dizziness

Of particular note, many ADHD prescription medications are chemically related or are derivatives of amphetamines which are stimulants, and may produce a personality change in someone taking them. Talking rapidly, exhibiting obsessive-compulsive behavior, becoming withdrawn or apathetic may be some of the changes noticed in someone who is sensitive to these types of ADHD prescription medications.

Non-Stimulant Prescription medications for ADHD

It is important for children and adult ADHD sufferers to know that there are non stimulant drugs approved for ADHD that can offer the same potential for improving the signs of ADHD and possibly not suffer from the same side effects seen with stimulants. One such medication to discuss with your health care provider is Strattera. Strattera is a non stimulant which primarily influences norepinephrine in the brain and has been shown to help the symptoms of ADHD for many people.

Some antidepressants have shown some benefit in treating some ADHD symptoms. Wellbutrin is one such antidepressant with some data which suggests it may be helpful. Wellbutrin can be given to individuals who cannot tolerate other ADHD drugs, and in adults who have high blood pressure or heart disorders. Unlike other antidepressant medication such as Prozac or Zoloft which work as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Wellbutrin does not influence the reuptake of serotonin but instead influences dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters important to ADHD sufferers because they regulate attention and focus.

Side Effects of Wellbutrin

Certain conditions exist which will prevent individuals from being able to take Wellbutrin if they are afflicted with any of them, such as:

  • History of eating disorders
  • Brain damage/seizures
  • Drug addictions
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney or liver disease

Just like other ADHD meds, patients with ADHD who take Wellbutrin may experience certain side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

You should feel free to ask your doctor any and every question you may have concerning the type of ADHD meds you or your child will be taking, such as how effective the medicine is, how long before the medication begins taking effect, or how is the decision to stop or change medications made. What are the common side effects you may expect to see. You might also be interested in learning how to manage ADHD symptoms without taking ADHD prescription medication and see if that is something you may be interesting in trying. Your doctor and other members of the treatment team will be more than happy to answer your questions and guide you through your ADHD prescription medication process. There are also support groups for ADHD patients, parents, and adults where you will be able to find valuable information on how to cope with this illness.

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