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ADHD Treatment Medication

by Janoah White
  • Overview

    ADHD is a condition usually recognized in childhood but also present in adults. People who suffer from ADHD may have trouble with hyperactivity, difficulty focusing or paying attention or may exhibit impulsive behavior. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are three subtypes, or categories of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive or combined hyperactive impulsive and inattentive. People with ADHD may have trouble in social, educational or work environments. ADHD treatment usually involves therapy and prescription medications.
  • Types of Medications

    Stimulants are the most common type of prescription medication used in treating ADHD. These medicines, which include methylphenidate or amphetamines as active ingredients, work by increasing the levels of a chemical called dopamine that is naturally found in the brain. These medications should be started off at a low dosage and gradually increased until the effective dosage is reached. Stimulants generally begin to work quickly, so improvement should be noticed soon after the individual begins the medication. They may be offered in short-acting, long-acting and extended release forms. Some patients may take a dose just once a day, while others may have to take more than one. Examples of stimulants that are often prescribed include Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta.
  • Warnings

    Possible side effects of stimulants include a rise in blood pressure, heart rate or body temperature, worsening of behavior or certain psychotic symptoms. They may also decrease the need for sleep and appetite. Serious adverse effects include hostility, paranoia, stroke, cardiovascular complications or even sudden death in individuals who have heart defects. It is important to notify the doctor of the patient's medical history and any health issues that may be present before beginning any new medication. The doctor should also be notified of any prescriptions that are currently being taken so as to prevent any possible drug interactions. Patients should only take the exact dose that has been prescribed.
  • Identification

    A variety of non-stimulant medications may also be used to treat ADHD. These include medications such as atomoxetine (Strattera), bupropion (Wellbutrin) and certain SSRIs, such as paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and fluvoxamine (Luvox). Certain medications traditionally used to treat blood pressure as well as anti-psychotic medications are also used in patients with ADHD.
  • Significance

    All ADHD medications are required by the FDA to include patient medication guides that detail how these medications work as well as the risks and benefits of taking them. A number of medications and dosages may have to be tried on a patient before a treatment plan is found that works for them. It is important to take medications as prescribed and to notify the doctor promptly of any side effects.
  • Considerations

    Medication combined with therapy, rather than just medication alone, may have a more positive impact on treating a person who suffers from ADHD. In this way, the patient and his family can also learn techniques that will aid in controlling the inattentive or hyperactive behavior. This may include developing new habits or targeting specific behaviors individually. In children, parents may learn new ways in which to respond to some of the behaviors exhibited by their children.

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