An anaylsis of medication for adult ADHD

Written by: Dr Iqbal Mohiuddin
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

Statistics demonstrate that the prevalence of ADHD in the adult population is between 3% and 4%, with the majority of cases remaining undiagnosed. Distinguished consultant psychiatrist Dr Iqbal Mohiuddin explores the medications available for adult ADHD, providing information about their benefits, success rates and side effects.




What are the different types of Adult ADHD medications available, and how do they work?


There are several types of medications commonly used to treat adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications primarily fall into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulant medications are the most commonly prescribed for adult ADHD. Stimulants such as methylphenidate (e.g. Concerta XL, Ritalin) and amfetamine (e.g. Elvanse, Dexamfetamine) increase dopamine levels in the brain, aiding attention and impulse control.


Non-stimulant medications like Atomoxetine (Strattera) and Guanfacine (Intuniv) are alternatives for those who do not respond well to stimulants. Finding the right medication and dosage is crucial as effectiveness varies among individuals. It's important to note that the effectiveness of Adult ADHD medications can vary from person to person, so it's essential to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dose that works best for you.


What are the potential side effects of Adult ADHD medication, and how can they be managed?


Adult ADHD medications, like any medication, can have potential side effects. The specific side effects can vary depending on the type of medication being used and can affect patients in different ways. Here are some common side effects associated with Adult ADHD medications and how they can be managed:


Stimulant medications:

Common side effects include loss of appetite, weight loss, sleep problems, irritability, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure.


Management: Eating a healthy breakfast before taking the medication, monitoring weight regularly, ensuring proper sleep hygiene, and discussing any concerns with the healthcare provider.


Non-stimulant medications:

Common side effects include upset stomach, drowsiness, dizziness, and mood changes.


Management: Taking the medication with food to reduce stomach upset, adjusting the timing of doses to minimise drowsiness, and discussing any mood changes with the healthcare provider.


General side effects:

Other potential side effects can include headaches, dry mouth, and mood changes.


Management: Staying hydrated to combat dry mouth, managing headaches with over-the-counter pain relievers (if appropriate), and discussing any concerning mood changes with the healthcare provider.


It's crucial to communicate any side effects experienced while taking Adult ADHD medication to your ADHD psychiatrist or prescriber. They can provide guidance on managing side effects and may adjust the dose or switch to a different medication if needed. Regular follow-ups with the healthcare provider are essential to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and address any concerns that may arise. This is all part of the ADHD titration process.


How effective are Adult ADHD medications in treating symptoms, and what is their success rate?


Adult ADHD medications can effectively alleviate symptoms, but success varies due to factors like medication type, dosage, individual response, and treatment adherence. Stimulants, like methylphenidate and amphetamine, are generally effective, enhancing attention, focus, and impulse control in many cases. Non-stimulants such as Atomoxetine and Guanfacine suit those unresponsive to stimulants or experiencing intolerable side effects.


It's important to note that the success rate of Adult ADHD medications is not a one-size-fits-all measure. Some may find relief solely through medication, while others need a blend of medication, therapy, and psychosocial interventions. Despite variances, Adult ADHD medication generally yields positive outcomes, enhancing symptom management and quality of life. Close collaboration with healthcare providers is vital to tailor treatment for optimal results, considering individual needs and monitoring progress over time.


What are the common benefits of Adult ADHD medication for patients, and how can it help improve their daily functioning?


Adult ADHD medication can offer several benefits to individuals with Adult ADHD, helping to improve their daily functioning in various ways. Some common benefits of ADHD medication include:

Improved focus and attention: ADHD medication can help individuals with ADHD improve their ability to focus, concentrate, and stay on task, which can be particularly beneficial in academic, work, and social settings.


Better impulse control: Medication can help reduce impulsivity, allowing individuals to think before acting and make more thoughtful decisions.


Enhanced organisation and time management: ADHD medication can assist individuals in better organising tasks, managing time effectively, and completing tasks more efficiently.


Reduced hyperactivity: For individuals with Adult ADHD who experience hyperactivity, medication can help reduce restlessness and excessive movement, leading to improved self-regulation.


Improved social interactions: By enhancing focus and impulse control, medication can help individuals with Adult ADHD engage more effectively in social situations, leading to better communication and relationships.


Enhanced academic or work performance: With improved focus and attention, individuals may experience better performance in academic settings, work tasks, and other responsibilities.


What are the long-term effects of taking Adult ADHD medication, and what should patients expect in terms of treatment outcomes?


The long-term effects of taking adult ADHD medication can vary depending on the individual, the type of medication used, and how well the treatment is managed. Here are some considerations regarding the long-term effects of adult ADHD medication and what patients can expect in terms of treatment outcomes.


Long-term benefits:

Consistent use of Adult ADHD medication can lead to sustained improvements in attention, focus, impulse control, and overall functioning over time.


Some studies suggest that long-term medication use can have positive effects on academic performance, social relationships, and self-esteem in individuals with Adult ADHD.


Monitoring and adjustments:

Regular monitoring by a healthcare provider is essential to assess the effectiveness of the medication and make any necessary adjustments to the dose or treatment plan.


Over time, the healthcare provider may need to reevaluate the need for medication and make decisions about continuing or adjusting treatment based on your progress.


Potential side effects:

Long-term use of adult ADHD medication may be associated with certain side effects, such as changes in appetite, weight, sleep patterns, or mood.

It's important for patients to communicate any concerns or side effects to their healthcare provider so that adjustments can be made as needed.


Treatment outcomes:


Patients can expect varying outcomes from Adult ADHD medication; some see significant symptom improvement, while others may need further interventions. The aim is to enhance symptom management, quality of life, and overall well-being. Long-term use often yields positive results, improving symptoms and functioning. Regular monitoring, communication with healthcare providers, and a comprehensive approach including therapy optimise treatment outcomes for those with Adult ADHD.



If you are considering medication for adult ADHD and would like to book a consultation with Dr  Mohiuddn, simply visit his Top Doctors profile today.

By Dr Iqbal Mohiuddin

Dr Iqbal Mohiuddin is a highly accomplished consultant psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, and PTSD. He currently practises at the private IamPsychiatry clinic.
Dr Mohiuddin is also an expert when it comes to insomnia, psychosis and addictions. He successfully completed a BSc at the University of London in 1999, before going on to obtain a PGCME from Cardiff University in 2011. He also undertook further specialist training in Adult ADHD assessment, diagnosis and treatment with UKAAN in 2017.
Dr Mohiuddin offers patients private and high-quality mental health assessments in a calm and comfortable setting, at the IamPsychiatry clinic, where holistic treatment of patients suffering from mental health disorders is the priority.
He is trained in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and follows a holistic biopsychosocial approach for the recovery of his patients. Dr Mohiuddin assesses patients online throughout the UK as an online psychiatrist, and has successfully helped and treated over a thousand private patients throughout the UK since 2008.

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