6 Things You Should Know About ADHD Medication
Eileen Bailey | July 31, 2013
The most common treatment for ADHD, in both children and adults, is stimulant medication, such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall. While there are other types of medications, stimulants are often the first line of treatment. Even so, many people have questions and concerns about taking these medications. Here are some answers.
Medication is not a cure for ADHD
Medications can help decrease your symptoms and help you better manage the symptoms you have. For example, you may find you don’t get distracted as easily or you may find it easier to follow through on daily tasks. But medications for ADHD only last as long as they are in your system, usually between 4 and 12 hours, depending on the specific medication you are taking. Once the medication wears off, your symptoms will return.
Each person reacts differently
Some people may find Ritalin works well while others find that Adderall is the best medication for them. You can’t decide that you want to try a medication because your friend found it helped them focus. Unfortunately, finding the best medication, and the best dosage, can be a matter of trial and error and it can sometimes take several months to find what is best for you.
Stimulant medications can have side effects
Many people take stimulant medications without experiencing any, or only mild, side effects. Some of the common side effects include feeling restless, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, racing heartbeat. It is important to keep track of any side effects you, or your child, may experience, and talk to your doctor if your side effects are interfering with your daily life.
Medication should be combined with other treatments
Most doctors will recommend a multi-modal approach to treating ADHD. This means that non-medication treatments, such as therapy or behavioral interventions are included in your treatment plan. For example, behavioral strategies such as charts, to-do lists or reminder systems can help manage symptoms. Many people find that using medications help to follow through with different strategies and techniques that can be used throughout their lives.
Medication is not right for everyone
Most individuals with ADHD are helped by medications. Around 75 to 80 percent of those with ADHD report reduced symptoms when taking medication. But that means 20 to 25 percent may not fare as well. For some, side effects are severe making it impossible to take medication. Others may find that stimulant medications interfere with treatment for other health conditions. Even so, the majority of people find symptom relief from medications.
When starting meds, see your doctor frequently
Take time to research the medications, learn about the side effects and talk with your doctor about the benefits and the risks of using these medications.