ADHD Treatment ADHD Medication for Adults By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Published on July 29, 2022 Print GIPhotoStock / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents ADHD Symptoms How Medication Can Help Types of ADHD Medication Finding the Right Dosage Medication Side Effects Tips for Living With ADHD If you have been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, you may be wondering if medication is right for you. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, many adults with ADHD find that medication can be an effective treatment option. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that ADHD medication is not a cure-all. In most cases, it is best used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes therapy and other lifestyle changes. If you are considering taking medication for ADHD, it is important to work with a qualified mental health professional to make sure that it is the right decision for you. This article will provide an overview of some of the most common medications used to treat ADHD in adults. What Is ADHD and What Are the Symptoms? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a mental disorder that is characterized by problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. While ADHD can be diagnosed in children, it is often not recognized until the individual reaches adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person and can range in severity. Many adults with ADHD find that their symptoms can interfere with work, school, and personal relationships. How Medication Can Help Adults With ADHD There are a number of ways that medication can help adults with ADHD: Medication can improve focus and concentration, which can help individuals to be more productive at work or school. Medication can help to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, which can improve an individual's ability to interact with others. Medication can help to improve sleep and appetite. ADHD medications can be effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD. However, they are not a cure for ADHD and they will not solve all of your problems. Medication should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other interventions. Different Types of ADHD Medication Available There are a number of different options available when it comes to ADHD medication for adults. The type of medication that is best for you will depend on your specific symptoms and the severity of your condition. Some common medications used to treat ADHD in adults include the following: Stimulants Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed type of medication for ADHD. They work by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain, which can help to improve focus and concentration. Common stimulants include the following: Methylphenidate (Ritalin) Dextroamphetamine (Adderall) Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) Non-Stimulants Non-stimulants are another option for ADHD medication. These drugs work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine in the brain, which can help with focus and concentration. Non-stimulants are recommended if you've found that stimulants have been unhelpful. Common non-stimulants include the following: Atomoxetine (Strattera) Guanfacine (Intuniv) Antidepressants Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat ADHD, especially if you also have symptoms of depression. These drugs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help to improve mood. Common antidepressants include the following: Imipramine (Tofranil) Bupropion (Wellbutrin) Venlafaxine (Effexor) Talk to your doctor about which type of ADHD medication is best for you. Stimulants are generally the first line of treatment, but if you cannot tolerate them or they are not effective, there are other options available. How to Find the Right Medication and Dosage It is important to work with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage for you. Everyone responds differently to medication, so it may take some trial and error to find the right one for you. It is also important to be patient when starting a new medication. It can take several weeks for the full effects of the medication to be seen. What Are the Risks and Side Effects of ADHD Medication? There are a number of risks and side effects associated with ADHD medication. Common side effects include the following: Difficulty sleeping Loss of appetite Headaches Dry mouth Some people may also experience more serious side effects, such as anxiety or depression. It is important to talk to your doctor about any potential side effects before starting a new medication. Stimulant medications, in particular, have a high potential for abuse. They can be crushed and snorted, or mixed with alcohol to create a "cocktail." Non-stimulant medications can also be abused, although this is less common. If you or someone you know is abusing ADHD medication, it is important to get help. There are a number of treatment options available for people with substance abuse problems. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Tips for Living Well With ADHD There are a number of things you can do to help manage your ADHD and live well: Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. This will help to ensure that you are getting the most benefit from the medication. Find ways to cope with stress. Stress can affect ADHD symptoms, so it is important to find healthy ways to deal with it. Some people find that relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, are helpful. Keep a positive outlook. Despite the challenges of living with ADHD, there are many things to be grateful for. Remember that you are not alone in dealing with ADHD. There are many resources available to help you manage your symptoms and live a happy, healthy life. If you are considering medication for ADHD, it is important to talk to your doctor about all of your options. Medication is not the only treatment available for ADHD and it may not be the best option for you. Be sure to ask about other treatments, such as therapy, counseling, and support groups. How to Find an ADHD Support Group 8 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Institute of Mental Health. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Rajeh A, Amanullah S, Shivakumar K, Cole J. Interventions in ADHD: A comparative review of stimulant medications and behavioral therapies. Asian J Psychiatr. 2017;25:131-135. doi:10.1016/j.ajp.2016.09.005 Cleveland Clinic. ADHD Stimulant Therapy. Cleveland Clinic. ADHD Nonstimulant Therapy & Other ADHD Drugs. Cortese S, Adamo N, Del Giovane C, et al. Comparative efficacy and tolerability of medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, adolescents, and adults: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(9):727-738. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30269-4 Stevens JR, Wilens TE, Stern TA. Using stimulants for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: clinical approaches and challenges. 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