Medicine is a tool that can help you manage ADHD as part of an all-inclusive treatment programme to reduce symptoms and improve functioning in important areas of your life. The medicines used to treat ADHD work by activating parts of the brain that support attention and focused behaviour.
If medication is chosen as part of your overall treatment plan, your doctor can work with you to find the type of medication that is best suited for your needs. This is also an opportunity to talk to your doctor about what part you want medication to play in your overall treatment.
ADHD medication reduces the symptoms of restlessness, inattentiveness and impulsiveness. If you are still in school, it might become easier to focus on your lessons. You also might find it easier to control disruptive behaviour and improve your relationships with your peers. Adults that take medication have said that they are more organised and can concentrate better at work. Patients have reported being able to read a whole book for the first time.
What types of medication are available?
There are a range of medications available, broadly classified as stimulants and non-stimulants, giving the opportunity for more individual tailoring of treatment to meet your needs or that of your loved one with ADHD. Because there is no single medical treatment that works for all patients, you and your doctor will have to find the type of medicine that is right for you.
ADHD medication is available in different doses so that the doctor can establish which dose works best to control your ADHD symptoms. Medication is also available as short- or long-acting preparations. Whereas short-acting medication is taken several times a day, long- acting medication gives you coverage across the day and can be taken before going to school or work, thereby increasing your privacy.
Here are some things to consider when talking about medication with your doctor:
- Symptoms: Not all symptoms are related to ADHD, and not all patients have the same symptoms or the same intensity of symptoms. Therefore, the specialist will evaluate you and see how they affect your daily life to choose the best medication for you.
- Co-existing conditions: When there are conditions in addition to ADHD, the specialist will have to assess which of these conditions is the most serious and start treating that one first, making a plan to address ADHD when the time is appropriate, but also avoid treatments which might make either condition worse.
- Preference: The specialist will consider you and your family’s opinions about treatment with medication. He or she will also explain how a medication works and answer any questions about possible side effects.
- Previous lack of response to a given medication: If you have been treated with a medication for ADHD and have not shown an adequate response, the specialist will assess the need to adjust the dosage or change medications.
- Duration of effect: It is important to remember that ADHD can affect all aspects of a child’s, teen’s, or adult’s life, not just the academic or work environment.
- Ease of administration: Treatment with medication, especially in childhood and adolescence, can create stigma– for example, when a medication has to be administered at school or work. How easy the medication is to take should also be taken into account.