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ADHD Medication

Medication Used to Treat ADHD


Updated June 17, 2014

ADHD Medication

Medications can be helpful in reducing impulsiveness and hyperactivity, and increasing focus and attention in individuals with ADD / ADHD.

Stimulant medications have been found to be very effective in alleviating ADHD symptoms. Stimulants affect the regulation of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

Common Stimulants:

Trade Name (Generic name)

  • Adderall (amphetamine; dextroamphetamine)
  • Adderall XR (amphetamine; dextroamphetamine)
  • Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • Daytrana (methylphenidate)
  • Desoxyn (methamphetamine)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Dextrostat (dextroamphetamine)
  • Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Metadate CD (methylphenidate)
  • Methylin (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin SR (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin LA (methylphenidate)
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)

Some people respond to one kind of stimulant and not another.

The most common side effects of stimulants are decreased appetite, insomnia, increased anxiety, and/or irritability. Mild stomach aches or headaches have also been reported. Higher doses of stimulant medication usually produce more side effects.

Short and longer-term forms of these drugs are available. Extended release forms are those that provide longer lasting, continuous level of medication in the body for 8 to 12 hours. They dissolve slowly and release the drug over time. The older forms of immediate release require that medication be taken every 3 to 5 hours.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a medication that is not a stimulant for the treatment of ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults. The drug is called Strattera (generic name – atomoxetine).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 80% of children who need medication for ADHD still need it as teenagers and over 50% need medication as adults.

Many adults with ADD/ADHD respond positively to stimulant medications, as well.

Antidepressants are a second choice of medication for adults. The tricyclics affect dopamine and norepinephrine much like the stimulants do. Venlafaxine (Effexor), another type of antidepressant, affects norepinephrine. Bupropion (Wellbutrine) has also been found to be effective in the treatment of ADHD.

It is important for individuals on medication to be medically supervised. Effectiveness or medication, side effects, dosages, etc. need to be monitored by a medical doctor.

Additional Reading:
Consumer Reports ADHD Drugs


National Institute of Mental Health. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-The Treatment of ADHD. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Mental Health. National Institutes of Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. 2006.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Directs ADHD Drug Manufacturers to Notify Patients about Cardiovascular Adverse Events and Psychiatric Adverse Events. FDA News Release. Feb. 2007.

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