Stimulants are the most common medication for treating ADHD in children and adults. These medications are safe, work quickly, and have been around for decades. Researchers believe they work by increasing levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, the chemicals responsible for fueling messaging in different parts of the body and brain. The medicine Adderall is effective in order to overcome the ADHD symptoms.
Two types of stimulant medication are used to treat ADHD.
- Ritalin (Focalin), Concerta, and Ritalin are all methylphenidates.
- Adderall, Mydayis, and Vyvanse are all examples of amphetamines.
What is the best type of amphetamine for adults: methylphenidate or amphetamines?
ADHD specialists recommend that methylphenidates are the first choice of medication to treat children and adolescents. Amphetamines are the first choice for adults.
A large study in 2018 involving more than 8,000 adults and 51 trials revealed that amphetamines are moderately better for treating core ADHD symptoms than methylphenidate after a 12-week treatment course. People buy adderall because they think it is an excellent way to treat ADHD.
Short-acting vs. long-acting stimulants
Short-acting and longer-acting stimulants both treat ADHD equally well. The choice is based on the child’s preference for taking the dose, their ability to swallow pills, and price.
Short-acting stimulating medications are an older class of medicine. They are generally cheaper and have a good safety record. In less than an hour, they start to work. Because they are short-acting, they must be taken twice or three times daily to have an all-day effect. There can be significant wear-off between doses.
Short-acting stimulants can include:
- Ritalin (methylphenidate)
- Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
- Adderall ( amphetamine and salt combo )
The long-acting stimulants are not absorbed and can be taken only once per day. They start working within an hour, just like short-acting ones. Their side effects can last all day and are more expensive because fewer generics exist.
Long-acting stimulants can include:
- Ritalin LA (methylphenidate LA)
- Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate ER)
- Concerta (methylphenidate ER)
- Adderall XR ( amphetamine Salt combo ER )
- Mydayis (amphetamine salt combo ER)
- Vyvanse is a lisdexamfetamine.
- Daytrana Patch ( Methylphenidate patch
Side effects of stimulants
Stimulants are restricted substances. As they cause a pleasant high, stimulants can lead to addiction and dependency. Long-acting drugs are less likely to cause a high than short-acting medicines because they release their active ingredients into the bloodstream more slowly.
Stimulants have been used for decades in a safe and effective manner. The side effects of stimulant medications are similar. Many of the side effects are mild and settle quickly. Minor adjustments to dosage or schedules can also manage them.
Common side effects include:
- Dry Mouth
- Low Appetite
- Slow growth (growth will continue to be monitored during treatment)
- Weight loss in children
- Sleep disturbances (medications should be taken early in the morning to avoid this).
- Emotional changes and jitteriness
- Some of the less common side effects are:
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Unrest in the stomach
- Children with new or worsening tics
- Raynaud syndrome – Pain or tingling of the hands and feet
Anyone who starts taking stimulant medications for ADHD should be tested for heart problems. This is because of the potential for high blood pressure or a fast heartbeat. While taking stimulants, they should also have their blood pressure and heart rate regularly checked.
Non-stimulant medication for ADHD
Non-stimulant ADHD medications are less effective in treating symptoms and take longer to work (compared to stimulants that start working within an hour). They are an alternative for people who do not want to or have medical reasons to avoid stimulants, such as history or risk of drug abuse or endangerment. You can try them if stimulants don’t work.
Non-stimulant medication for ADHD includes:
Clonidine ER (Kavat)
ADHD specialists recommend Atomoxetine for children and adults as the first choice of medication. This is followed by guanfacine, clonidine, bupropion for children, or nortriptyline or bupropion for adults.
Non-stimulant medication for ADHD: Side effects
The side effects of nonstimulant ADHD medication vary according to the drug. Talk to your doctor about the potential side effects.
The following are some of the common side effects associated with Atomoxetine:
- Dry Mouth
- Low Appetite
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Headache is more common in children.
- Excessive sweating
- Long-lasting erections
- Erectile Dysfunction In Adults
- Urination problems
The following are other severe but rare, side effects that may occur with Atomoxetine:
- Liver toxicity
- Heart attack and sudden cardiac death are severe risks for children and adolescents.
- Children and adolescents are at increased risk for suicide and suicidal thinking.
- It is recommended that all people taking Atomoxetine be tested to see if they have heart problems.
- Children and adolescents are at risk for suicidal behavior and thoughts. Families and healthcare providers should closely monitor these groups for any changes in their behavior, particularly in the first four to five months of treatment and after any dosage increases.
ADHD medication for adults
Here are some of the most commonly prescribed stimulants and other non-stimulant medications to treat adults with ADHD.
- Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (long- or short-acting)
- Methylphenidate, long- or short-acting
- Dexmethylphenidate (long-acting)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
ADHD medication for children
Here are some of the most commonly prescribed stimulants and other medications for ADHD in children.
- Oral methylphenidate, long-acting or short-acting
- Dexmethylphenidate (long-acting)
- Lisdexamfetamine (long-acting)
- Methylphenidate patches
- Clonidine ER
When it comes to ADHD medications, there are many options. There is no formula for choosing a medication. What works for someone else may work better for you. The proper cure for your child or you will depend on the ease of taking it, the side effects, and the effectiveness of treating symptoms.
Finding the proper medication can take several months of trying different pills at different dosages.
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is treated with stimulants and non-stimulants.
- Children with ADHD can take the same medication as adults.
- Your circumstances will determine the best ADHD medication for your child or yourself. Finding the proper medication may require patience and some trials and errors.