Published on 27 March 2023

List Of Best ADHD Medications: Complete Information

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Almost everyone occasionally struggles with being quiet, paying attention, or reining impulsive behavior. But, for some people, the issues are so prevalent and persistent that they affect all parts of their lives, including their personal, professional, academic, and social lives.

An estimated 11 percent of school children suffer from Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD patients can achieve great success in life. Yet, if it isn't identified and appropriately managed, ADHD can have detrimental effects.

Although not all children with ADHD require medication, many do. Medicines can address the main symptoms of ADHD. They can decrease hyperactivity and impulsivity in people, enhancing their ability to concentrate, learn, and work.

Stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and Adderall are the most popular medications for ADHD. There may be the use of other medicines, such as non-stimulants and antidepressants. The ideal drug for an individual relies on various factors. These include personal preferences, the side effects of the drug, and how long it lasts. 

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder affecting people's ability to exert self-control appropriately. It affects 5-8% of children, primarily boys, and frequently persists into adulthood. 

It is characterized by recurrent inattentive, impulsive, and occasionally hyperactive behavior. Emotional management difficulties are typically present as well.

What Happens When You Have ADHD?

Not all children with ADHD experience the same symptoms. ADHD impacts a person's potential to self-regulate. A child with ADHD has trouble with learning and daily functioning. It has three main features:

  • Hyperactivity: an excessive movement inappropriate for the setting or excessive fidgeting, tapping, or chatting.
  • Inattention: inability to maintain concentration.
  • Impulsivity: acting hastily without thinking and in a way that may have a significant potential for injury.

The symptoms of ADHD can differ from person to person and fluctuate throughout a person's lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prescription medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin, have the most potent and noticeable effects on memory and attention. They may improve test-taking or study skills.
ADHD medications, like any other medical treatment, have side effects and risks. It is always advised to take as per the doctor's consultation.
Caffeine has been shown to improve concentration in people with ADHD. It mimics some of the effects of more potent stimulants to treat ADHD. Caffeine, on the other hand, is less effective than prescription medications.
You may not need to take stimulant medication for ADHD forever, but your ADHD remains. If your symptoms reoccur, you should resume taking your ADHD medication.
Most ADHD medications are stimulants, which means they have the potential to be addictive.

Why Do People Need ADHD Medicine?

Medication plays a crucial part in your ADHD treatment. Drugs might not be effective for all ADHD symptoms or have the same effects on different people. There are various ADHD drugs, so it could take a few tries to find the one that works best for you.

Stimulants are the most popular category of medication for treating symptoms of ADHD. 70% -80% of children with ADHD benefit from these drugs. ADHD medications improve focus, compliance, and effort in activities and the quantity and quality of homework while reducing impulsivity, negative social behaviors, and physical and verbal aggression. 

Antidepressants and non-stimulants are additional medications that reduce the symptoms of ADHD. The best treatments frequently combine medication, therapy, behavior modifications, and skills training.

Popular ADHD Medication

The best and most popular form of the drug for treating ADHD is stimulants. It is safe and effective to treat ADHD symptoms in most children. The class includes amphetamines, and the most popular ADHD medication, methylphenidate, and their derivatives.

These two drugs are the basis for all marketed stimulants. They aid in improving mental focus and ignoring distractions in ADHD patients. ADHD patients are better able to focus and regulate their conduct.

There are two types of stimulants:

  • Immediate-Release or Short-Acting Stimulants- Short-acting stimulants start working in less than 1 hour. When necessary, these drugs are taken every 4 hours.
  • Extended-Release or Intermediate and Long-Acting Stimulants - Doctors often prescribe these once morning daily for patients. Extended-release stimulant users might skip taking their prescriptions during class or after school. Avoid chewing or crushing extended-release capsules or tablets. Extended-release capsules with bead fillings can be opened and sprinkled on food for children with trouble swallowing tablets or capsules.

Types Of Short-Acting Stimulants

Adderall

The medication Adderall helps to treat ADHD. A combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine is present in Adderall. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are central nervous system stimulants that impact brain and nerve chemicals that support impulse control and hyperactivity.

After taking these, the effects start about 30-45 minutes later, lasting 4-6 hours. The common side effects include loss of appetite, weight loss, dry mouth, stomach upset/pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, etc.

Dextroamphetamine

Known by the brand names Dexedrine, Dextrostat, and Zenzedi, Dextroamphetamine is a medication used to treat ADHD symptoms. It can enhance your ability to pay attention, stay focused on an activity, and control behavior issues.

Also, it might aid in work Organization and improve listening ability. It comes as liquid, tablet, and extended-release capsule. Common side effects include dry mouth, upset stomach, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dizziness, tremors, fast heartbeats, and sleep problems.

Methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It works by enhancing focus and minimizing impulsive actions. Methylin and Ritalin are the brand names of this drug. The most common methylphenidate side effects are decreased appetite, weight loss, irritability, insomnia, racing heart, and constipation.

Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)

Dexmethylphenidate aids in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In people with ADHD, it might aid in improving attention while reducing impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is for oral administration once daily in the morning. The effects last for 4-6 hours. Anxiety, nervousness, blurry vision, headache, loss of appetite, insomnia, and weight loss are common side effects.

Type Of Long-Acting Stimulants

Adderall XR or Mydayis

It is the drug of choice for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Adderall XR or Mydayis includes amphetamine salts and dextroamphetamine in extended-release (XR) form. Physicians prescribe them once daily, and the effects last throughout the day. Common side effects are trouble sleeping and weight loss. Adderall XR has a high risk for abuse and dependence.

Amphetamine

Amphetamine is one of the first-line therapies for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It comes in immediate-release and extended-release tablets. Amphetamine works by increasing the dopamine levels of the brain.

The brand names available in the market include Adzenys XR-ODT, Dyanavel XR, and Evekeo. Side effects are loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. Due to the significant danger of abuse and dependence, it is a controlled substance (Schedule II). 

Lisdexamfetamine

Vyvanse, also known as Lisdexamfetamine, helps to manage ADHD. Moreover, it treats adult cases of binge eating disorder (BED). Lisdexamfetamine, the active ingredient in Vyvanse, is taken once daily and starts to work within a few hours. Common side effects are lack of appetite and trouble sleeping. It is a controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and dependence.

Methylphenidate

For those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, methylphenidate extended-release (ER) is a first-choice medication for ADHD. The effects of this once-daily drug can begin within two hours and last all day. It is a restricted substance due to the potential for abuse and dependence.

The brand names of Methylphenidate ER include Concerta, Adhansia XR, Aptensio XR, Jornay PM, QuilliChew ER, Quillivant XR, Ritalin LA, and Relexxii. Side effects include loss of appetite and trouble sleeping.

Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin XR)

Focalin XR is a CNS stimulant used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It may reduce impulsive and hyperactive behavior, two defining characteristics of ADHD. Because of its potential for misuse and dependence, Focalin XR is a controlled substance. Sleep issues, anxiety, jitters, lightheadedness, dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, headaches, loss of appetite, and weight loss are common side effects.

Serdexmethylphenidate/ Dexmethylphenidate (AZSTARYS)

Azstarys is a central nervous system stimulant prescribed to treat ADHD in patients of age six years and older. It is a newly authorized ADHD medicine. It contains dexmethylphenidate, an immediate-release, and dexmethylphenidate, an extended-release stimulant. As a result, it is effective immediately and last throughout the day. In people with ADHD, AZSTARYS may help improve focus while reducing impulsivity and hyperactivity.

How Does Stimulant Medication Treat ADHD?

ADHD is a neurological disorder caused by a lack of certain neurotransmitters or sets of neurotransmitters in specific brain regions. Norepinephrine and its constituent neurotransmitters, dopa, and dopamine, are crucial neurotransmitters frequently lacking in ADHD patients. 

The principal stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD stimulate particular brain cells to create more of this inadequate neurotransmitter and help to reduce the symptoms.

Are Children Getting High On Stimulant Medications?

There is no evidence that children use stimulant medications like methylphenidate and amphetamine to get high when taken as prescribed by a doctor. These drugs do not sedate or tranquilize children in therapeutic doses, nor do they raise the danger of addiction.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has designated stimulants as Schedule II drugs due to the possibility of abuse with this group of medications. It is always important to closely monitor the use of the drug if your child is taking it.

Are ADHD Medicines effective?

Treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can aid with symptom relief and reduce the severity of the condition's impact on daily living. The most effective treatment for ADHD is often a combination of therapy and medication. 

Medication is the first treatment option for ADHD. Approximately 80% of children with this condition have shown positive results with these drugs. However, you may be concerned about the medication's side effects or wish to avoid it for another reason. 

Behavior therapy is a viable alternative for many people. Although the medicines do not cure ADHD, they can improve concentration, reduce impulsivity, promote calmness, and help develop new skills.

ADHD Medications For Children And Adults

Doctors advise methylphenidate as the first-choice medicine for treating ADHD in children and adolescents and amphetamines as the first-choice medication for treating adults.

Children

Adults

Stimulants

Oral methylphenidate (long- or short-acting)

Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (long- or short-acting)

Methylphenidate patches

Methylphenidate (long- or short-acting)

Lisdexamfetamine (long-acting)

Lisdexamfetamine

Dexmethylphenidate (long-acting)

Dexmethylphenidate (long-acting)

Non-Stimulants

Atomoxetine

Atomoxetine

Guanfacine, Viloxazine

Bupropion

Clonidine ER

Tricyclic antidepressants

Other Types Of ADHD Medicines 

Non-stimulants

Non-stimulant drugs work on several distinct pathways, providing an additional treatment alternative. Physicians may prescribe non-stimulants either alone or in conjunction with stimulants. Some people can only use non-stimulants because they cannot endure the side effects of stimulant drugs.

Non-stimulant drugs for ADHD take many weeks to start functioning and are less effective at addressing symptoms (compared to under 1 hour for most stimulants). However, they are a choice for those who prefer not to use stimulants for personal or medical reasons, such as a risk or history of substance dependence. 

Types Of Non-Stimulants For ADHD 

Atomoxetine (Strattera)

Atomoxetine (Strattera) belongs to selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It helps in treating ADHD. In the brain, Atomoxetine blocks norepinephrine reuptake, thus prolonging the action of norepinephrine.

Nausea and upset stomach are two of Strattera's most noticeable side effects. Because Strattera capsules may irritate the eyes, users should not open them; instead, they should take the entire pill. 

Viloxazine (Qelbree)

Qelbree (Viloxazine) is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in both children and adults. It is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Daily oral administration of Qelbree is recommended. It may take at least a week for improvement in your ADHD symptoms. Side effects include difficulty sleeping, fatigue, appetite loss, and nausea or vomiting.

Guanfacine ER (Intuniv)

Doctors often recommend Guanfacine for individuals with high blood pressure. Although there is a generic version of this medication, only the time-release formulation and its generics are permitted for use in children with ADHD. The brand name for the time-release form is Guanfacine ER (Intuniv). The drug may help improve aggression, hyperactivity, memory, and behavioral problems.

Clonidine ER (Kapvay)

Clonidine ER (Kapvay) may be prescribed alone or with other stimulants to treat ADHD. It is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist. ADHD patients who use clonidine ER experience less impulsivity, hyperactivity, and distractibility. People using it for ADHD may experience lightheadedness because it also decreases blood pressure.

How Do Non-Stimulant Medicines Work On ADHD?

Atomoxetine and Viloxazine belong to the drug category of selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. They work by increasing norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex, which is thought to control behavior and thus alleviate ADHD symptoms.

Clonidine and guanfacine belong to the category of alpha2-agonists. These drugs mimic norepinephrine's effects on the receptors in the prefrontal cortex.

Antidepressants

The use of these drugs for ADHD symptoms is permissible off-label. Insomnia, motion sickness, constipation, dry mouth, sweating, and changes in sex drive are common side effects. The FDA issued a warning concerning a link between antidepressants and an increased risk of suicide in persons ages 18 to 24, particularly in the first one or two months after starting treatment.

Types Of Antidepressants For ADHD 

Bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR)

Bupropion is an atypical antidepressant medication commonly used as an off-label to treat ADHD. It is available in short-acting and long-acting versions, and doctors prescribe them once daily. Bupropion may cause a slight improvement in ADHD symptoms such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. 

Adults with ADHD who cannot or will not take stimulant medications may benefit from bupropion as an alternate therapy. Wellbutrin frequently causes side effects such as lightheadedness, loss of appetite, blurred vision, agitation, increased anxiety, trouble sleeping, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting.

Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

Nortriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant. In the treatment of ADHD, nortriptyline finds use as an adjuvant. Pamelor helps to treat the depression and anxiety symptoms that frequently accompany ADHD in adults. A considerably lower dosage is necessary to treat ADHD. The side effects of Pamelor include insomnia, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, decreased urination, constipation, etc.

How Do Antidepressants Work For ADHD?

Antidepressant medications increase the amounts of brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, just like stimulants do. These medications, according to doctors, can help patients with ADHD improve their attention span.

Like other drugs used to treat ADHD, Wellbutrin affects how neurotransmitters work in the brain. In particular, it prevents the presynaptic neuron from reabsorbing dopamine and norepinephrine after releasing those chemicals from the nerve cell. 

As a result of blocking reuptake, dopamine and norepinephrine concentrations in the brain rise, these neurotransmitters can communicate with other nerves when more of them remain active.

Over-The-Counter ADHD Medications

Vyvamind

Vyvamind is a natural herbal medicine that some people who don't want to take Adderall may find a good substitute. It contains herbs that mimic Adderall's benefits without any side effects. One of the main components of this medication is Vitamin B12. This vitamin boosts mental focus and shields neurons from damage. 

Caffeine anhydrous, a crucial component of Vyvamind, boosts alertness and mental vigor. It also contains L-Theanine, a popular nootropic component that balances off the side effects of stimulants. 

Vyvamind is available over the counter and is reliable and safe to use. Vyvamind has chemicals similar to prescription medications like Adderall and Vyvanse. It works by raising the levels of the neurotransmitters- acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Noocube

Noocube is one of the most effective over-the-counter natural Adderall substitutes on the market. It is a potent nootropic consisting of organic ingredients that promote the health and proper function of the brain. The main component of Noocube is a combination of three carotenoids called Lutenmax- which combats oxidative stress and promotes the neurotrophic factor in the brain. 

The product's plant extracts stimulate the brain more. Noocube contains L-tyrosine, which helps to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and lowers stress levels while improving memory, attention, and concentration. Antioxidants are also abundant in it to prevent the loss of brain cells. The vitamins in Noocube - Vitamins B1 and Vitamin B12 Vitamins B1 and B12, Biotin- improve mood, raise energy levels, and guard against neurotransmitter damage.

ADHD Medications Side Effects

Side effects are common with medications. These usually occur early in treatment and are mild and brief, but in some cases, they can be prolonged or severe.

Stimulants Side Effects

Many of their side effects are minor, resolve quickly, and can be managed with little dose or dosage schedule changes.

Common side effects

Severe side effects

Dry mouth

High blood pressure

Decreased appetite

Increased heart rate

Slow growth

Rebound effect

Weight loss in children

New or worsening tics in children

Sleep disturbances

Pain or tingling in the hands and feet

Jitteriness and emotional changes

Dizziness, headache

Non-Stimulants Side Effects

The side effects of non-stimulant ADHD medications differ depending on the medication. Always talk about the potential side effects with your healthcare provider.

Common Side effects

Severe Side effects

Nausea

Liver toxicity

Dry mouth, constipation

Sudden cardiac death in children and adolescents

Reduced appetite

Heart attack in adults

Weight loss, stomach pain

Suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents

Headache, excessive sweating

Low blood pressure

Insomnia, dizziness

Heart rhythm changes

Erectile dysfunction in adults

Serious allergic reactions

Is There A Shortage Of Adderall?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, there is a shortage of amphetamine mixed salts in the immediate-release formulation. They are frequently referred to as Adderall or Adderall IR under brand names. The FDA has approved amphetamine mixed salts, including Adderall, to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. 

See your child's pediatrician about alternate treatments, such as the extended-release form of amphetamine mixed salts. They can advise on the most suitable option for your child.

Drug Interactions 

Drug interactions can alter the way medications work or sometimes cause serious side effects. ADHD medications, like nearly every medication, can cause drug interactions.

  • Methylphenidate should be avoided for 14 days after taking an MAOI. A hypertensive crisis would ensue otherwise.
  • Avoid Atomoxetine use within 14 days of taking an MAOI, as it may lead to fatal side effects.
  • Avoid concomitant use of Amphetamines with tricyclic antidepressants or decongestants to avoid fatal effects.
  • If you take Atomoxetine with other medications that can raise your heart rate or blood pressure, you may experience an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Stimulants may cause blood thinners and antiepileptic medications to remain at a higher level for a long duration, and they may have an additive effect on psychosis medications.
  • TCAs may increase the side effects of decongestants. TCAs can also increase the effects of anticholinergics, blood pressure medications, and CNS depressants such as alcohol.
  • Bupropion may exacerbate the side effects of levodopa and amantadine.
  • Concurrent use of Wellbutrin with MAOIs or taken within 14 days of an MAOI can cause fatal side effects like delirium and coma, high body temperature, muscle rigidity, twitching, and agitation.
  • Use of bupropion with alcohol may result in adverse events or reduced tolerance.
  • Exercise caution when taking Clonidine with other antihypertensives because both slow down the nervous system.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

ADHD medication is used to treat symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness. ADHD medications work by increasing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Prescription medications for ADHD are similar for children and adults. However, there are some significant differences. 

Treatment with stimulant medication is usually the first step for most adults with ADHD. The best ADHD treatment for children includes a combination of parent-child behavior therapy, school interventions, and, if necessary, medication. 

Making healthy habits, such as regular physical activity, Mindfulness practice, and limiting screen time, can also help to improve ADHD symptoms. Finding the right ADHD medication for you may take some time, but once you do, you should notice an improvement in your symptoms.

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