ADHD Medications for Adults

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ADHD Medication for Adults

Many of the ADHD medications for adults are the same ones used to treat ADHD in children, but in higher doses, or in combination with other medications. There are two types of medications used in the treatment of ADHD: stimulant and non-stimulant. In some cases, anti-depressants can also be used to treat ADHD when the main symptoms include depression and anxiety. Each treatment has their own benefits and possible side-effects so your doctor will be able to weigh the pros and cons of each to determine which medication, or combination of medications, will treat your individual ADHD symptoms the best.

Some adults choose ADHD medications as the sole way to treat their symptoms, while others prefer to add ADHD exercises to their treatment plans. Whichever way you think is best for you, ADHD medications for adults are here to help you manage your symptoms.

Stimulant Medications

Stimulant medications for ADHD include Adderall and Adderall XR, Concerta, Focalin and Focalin XR, Vyvanse, as well as others that are continually being added to the market. These medications work by affecting the levels of dopamine in the brain, thereby affecting mood and hyperactivity. The main ingredient in many of these stimulant medications is methamphetamine, which is a controlled substance and highly addictive. This is why all patients taking stimulant medications for ADHD should be monitored closely by a doctor.

Patients who have hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, or high blood pressure should not take stimulant medications. For those patients who take these medications, side effects vary and can range from slight loss of appetite to increased anxiety and irritability. The majority of adult ADHD cases are treated with stimulant medications as studies and experience have shown that stimulants help patients to cope with ADHD symptoms the best.

Non-Stimulant Medications

Currently, there is only one non-stimulant medication approved by the FDA to treat ADHD in adults and that is Strattera. It works by boosting the levels of norepinephrine in the brain, affecting mood and increasing attention and focus. Strattera has antidepressant properties for those adults that have co-existing anxiety or depression and it doesn’t have the addiction tendencies of stimulant medications. Many patients who have found stimulant medications ineffective and have switched to Strattera have seen a decrease in their symptoms.

Strattera’s side effects are much milder than those of stimulant medications and can include sleepiness, headache, upset stomach, nausea, dizziness, and mood swings. However, in some patients Strattera can cause an increase in suicidal thoughts for those who have already experienced them. Those who have a history of suicidal thoughts or behaviors should be watched closely for signs of agitation, irritability, and suicidal behaviors.

Anti-Depressant Medications

For those who have ADHD with accompanying depression, anti-depressants can be used to help combat the symptoms of both. Anti-depressants work by targeting multiple transmitters in the brain. Wellbutrin is the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant for ADHD and ADHD depression.

Most anti-depressants have mild side effects, but they can also cause an increase in suicidal thoughts just like with Strattera. They also come with possible side effects of nausea, upset stomach, decreased sexual appetite, anxiety, tremors, sweating, sleepiness, or headaches. Just as with any medication, any and all side effects should be discussed with your doctor.


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WebMD: ADD & ADHD Health Center