Treating attention deficit hyperactivity
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a
mental issue. It causes a range of symptoms. These include:
inability to finish tasks
Medications can help decrease ADHD symptoms in children and
adults. Treatment approaches can vary between children and adults, and not every
person with ADHD takes the same drugs. In fact, many drugs are available to
treat ADHD. The following list of drugs for ADHD can help you talk to your
doctor about what option may be right for you.
Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for
ADHD. They are often the first course of drugs used for ADHD treatment. You
might hear this class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulant
medications. They work by increasing the amounts of the hormones called dopamine
and norepinephrine in the brain. This effect improves concentration and
decreases the fatigue that’s common with ADHD.
Many brand-name stimulants are now only available as generic
versions. This is because some health insurance companies will only pay for the
generics. They tend to cost less. However, other drugs are only available as
Amphetamines are stimulants used for ADHD. They include amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, or lisdexamfetamine. They
come in immediate-release (a drug that’s released into your body right away)
and extended-release (a drug that’s released into your body slowly) oral forms.
Brand names of these drugs include:
- Adderall XR (generic
- Dexedrine (generic available)
related to ephedrine and amphetamine. It also works by stimulating the CNS. It’s
not known exactly how this drug works to help ADHD symptoms. It can reduce your
appetite and increase your blood pressure. This drug comes as an oral tablet taken
once or twice per day.
by helping the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain. It’s also
a mild stimulant. It comes
as immediate-release, extended-release, and controlled-release oral forms. It
also comes as a transdermal patch under the brand name Daytrana. Brand names
CD (generic available)
- Concerta (generic
- Ritalin (generic available)
- Ritalin LA (generic available)
- Methylin (generic available)
- Focalin (generic
Read more: How to know if your ADHD medication is working »
Non-stimulants affect the brain differently than stimulants
do. These drugs also affect neurotransmitters, but they don’t increase dopamine
levels. In general, it takes longer to see results from these drugs than from
These drugs come in several classes. A doctor might
prescribe them when stimulants aren’t safe or are ineffective. They may also prescribe
them if a person wants to avoid the side effects of stimulants.
works by letting norepinephrine work longer in the brain. The drug is long-acting,
so you only need to take it once per day. This drug is not available as a
Atomoxetine has caused liver damage in a small number of
people. If you have signs of liver problems while taking this drug, your doctor
will check your liver function. Signs of liver problems include a tender or
swollen abdomen, yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, or fatigue.
Clonidine (Kapvay) is
used to reduce hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and distractibility in people with
ADHD. This drug is also used to treat high blood pressure. Because it also
lowers blood pressure, people taking it for ADHD may feel lightheaded.
This drug is available as a generic.
Guanfacine (Intuniv) is normally
prescribed for high blood pressure in adults. This drug is available as a
generic, but only the brand-name version Intuniv is approved for use in children
This drug may help
with memory and behavioral problems. It may also help improve aggression and
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Talk with your doctor
Your doctor may
suggest other ADHD treatments along with medications. For instance, an
in Pediatrics says
that changing your diet may alleviate your ADHD symptoms. A study in Clinical
Psychology Review found
that taking omega-3 supplements may also modestly improve symptoms in children
with ADHD. Talk to your doctor about your drug options as well as the
alternatives, such as these 5
natural remedies. It’s important to discuss all ADHD treatment options with
your doctor to gain the best results.
You Asked, We Answered
- Are the same drugs that are used to treat ADHD in children used to treat adult ADHD?
Yes. However, the dosages of many of these drugs are different for kids than they
are for adults. Also, the side effects of these drugs are different in adults
than they are in children. Your medical history can limit your treatment
options. It is important to talk to your doctor about your medical history to
get an idea of which of these drugs is likely to work best for you.
– Healthline Medical Team