Medication is an integral component of treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Both stimulants and non-stimulants may be used together to effectively treat ADHD.
Methylphenidate is the most frequently prescribed stimulant medicine for children and adults with ADHD. It works by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Other common forms of ADHD medication include atomoxetine, guanfacine and clonidine. These alpha-2 agonists mimic norepinephrine to improve behavior and attention in people with ADHD.
These medications come in both short-acting and long-acting varieties. Some of the latter build slowly in your bloodstream, helping minimize fluctuations and avoiding rebound effects.
Side effects of stimulant medications may include irritability, depression, agitation and loss of appetite. To manage these adverse reactions, reduce the dose or switch to a longer-acting drug.
Medicines should only be administered under the direction of your child’s doctor or nurse. They should be started at low doses, gradually increased until maximum effectiveness has been achieved, and adjusted periodically to account for changes in body and behavior.
Your child’s doctor or nurse should monitor your child’s heart rate, blood pressure and activity level. Furthermore, make sure the child has not taken monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) within 14 days before beginning stimulant medication.
Reducing stimulant use can be challenging for someone with ADHD, and your child’s doctor or nurse should help you decide whether it is safe to stop. A “drug holiday” during the weekend or school vacation may be beneficial in some families.