Adult ADHD Medication
Medication is considered to be the first line treatment for ADHD / ADD – once the right dose is found the improvements can be remarkable.
Research having been done into drug treatments for adults with ADHD as currently there are very few medications licensed specifically for it.
Only someone who is experienced and qualified can prescribe ADHD medications so you may have to return to your psychiatrist to receive repeat prescriptions and will need check-ups every 6 months or so.
There are two types of medications used to treat adult ADHD - stimulant and non-stimulant medications. Whilst NICE guidelines are clear that treatment must start with a stimulant medication – Methylphenidate, lack of response to it should be considered in light of the diagnostic subtypes: Hyperactivity/Impulsivity might respond better to a non-stimulant and Attention deficit to a stimulant medication.
However, this is not a rule and treatment should be decided on an individual basis – tailored to the patient’s presentation and needs.
Stimulants help the symptoms of ADHD in several ways. They increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, attention span and motivation. Stimulants help people with ADHD concentrate and focus more and can also decrease irritability and hyperactivity.
Examples of stimulant medications
People will react differently to the different types of stimulants and it is important to be closely monitored by your consultant psychiatrist to make sure you are taking the right drug for your condition.
Stimulants are legally ‘controlled’ drugs because they can be open to abuse and can be addictive.
Side effects of stimulant ADHD medication
I noticed a difference within a few days really, and once I was on a stable dose it was like I was a new person. They have been really effective, I can’t believe I waited so long.
Atomoxetine (also known as Strattera) is a "selective noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor" which increases the amount of noreadrenaline in the brain.
This helps increase the amount of messages passed in the brain which in turn increases concentration and helps control impulses.
Non-stimulant ADHD medications are longer lasting, which means they only need to be taken once a day and can be useful for people who also suffer with depression as they have anti-depressive qualities.
Strattera is generally used when stimulants have been ruled out or are not effective.
Side effects of non-stimulant ADHD medication
With any medication it is important any adverse side effects to your medication are reported to your Psychiatrist or doctor as soon as possible.
Once you have a diagnosis of ADHD there are several options as to how you can receive treatment. This will depend on the services offered by your local NHS team. We always advise that you speak to your GP when deciding whether this assessment is right for you, to ensure you understand where you might be able to access ongoing treatment.
You may wish, or need, to pay privately for your medication prescriptions – again this is based on your personal preferences and what services are available to you via the NHS. Your GP should be able to advise.
(We cannot guarantee that your GP will be happy to prescribe our recommendations, but we are happy to discuss this option with you.)