There is no one-type-fits-all treatment for ADHD. Studies have shown that the use of stimulants can be beneficial to treat ADHD in adults. The impact of stimulant medications is usually fast (sometimes optimally taking effect in less than an hour), safe, and usually without major complications. Common treatments for ADHD range from a variety of behavioral therapies, social skills training and medications like Adderall XR, Concerta, and Dexedrine.
Many studies have shown that the ideal treatment for ADHD, as for several other psychiatric disorders, is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In the case of ADHD, stereotypical intensive psychotherapy with weekly hour-long sessions is usually unnecessary. However, the support that monthly meetings with a medication provider who is fully conversant with psychotherapy modalities provides more effective treatment than either intervention on its own.
In Done’s combined treatment model, each clinical interaction gives the patient an opportunity to update their clinician on both the positive and negative aspects of their treatment. Their improvement may be quantified using various rating scales, or may simply be followed more subjectively. Medication side effects, although rarely severe with stimulant treatment of ADHD, must be monitored and dealt with, if necessary by dose adjustment.
Whatever the time-release of the stimulant, researchers believe that boosting levels of dopamine and norepinephrine results in better connections of messaging between different parts of the brain and the body. The most commonly prescribed stimulant products include methylphenidate (e.g. Concerta) and amphetamine derivatives (e.g. Adderall). Stimulants work primarily via their impact on the dopamine neurotransmitter system, which in turn, interacts with other naturally occurring brain chemicals.
Non-stimulant medications use different active ingredients than stimulants but have similar effects on the symptoms of ADHD. Both stimulant and non-stimulant medications for ADHD are FDA-approved.
Other medications that may help to improve attention and concentration include the non-stimulant atomoxetine and certain antidepressants like bupropion. These other medications may work more slowly to reduce inattentive ADHD symptoms, but can be worthwhile options if stimulants are not appropriate.
Generally speaking the side effects and risks are minimal compared to the opportunities to manage ADHD and provide them with the means to move forward in life. And it’s always worth exploring medications in tandem with therapy.
Side effects of nonstimulant options vary depending on the medication (naturally speak to a healthcare provider to identify any risks). They are similar to side effects from stimulant medications and can include dry mouth, low appetite, weight loss, headaches, insomnia, irritability, and dizziness.
Nootropics are also gaining traction in ADHD therapy because of their memory-enhancing properties. In fact, certain types of ADHD medication, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are already categorized as nootropics.
Nootropics can be either prescription or non-prescription drugs. Prescription nootropics are medications prescribed by healthcare professionals that have stimulant effects. Some common examples of prescription nootropics include amphetamine, modafinil, and methylphenidate. They suppress the symptoms of various illnesses, such as ADHD and other neurological disorders.
On the other hand, non-prescription nootropics are substances that can enhance brain performance but are typically used for non-medical purposes. They include caffeine and L-Theanine. Although they are not used to treat illnesses, they may have some positive impacts on memory, thinking, and overall cognitive functioning. However, the increasing use of these medications has raised various ethical concerns.
It’s critical to work with a medical practitioner to monitor any medications and gauge their effectiveness over time. Whether or not a stimulant is prescribed, medication and dosage is best determined by meeting with an experienced medical practitioner who can discuss the benefits and risks associated with any treatment.
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