Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, sometimes referred to as ADHD or ADD, was once considered a childhood and adolescent disorder that people grew out of as they aged into adulthood. Therefore, treatments for the disorder were focused on children and teenagers, and the research determining the effectiveness in adults has been limited; but treating adults with ADHD medications is now considered an effective treatment option.
Medications are a primary form of treatment for adult ADHD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "quick fixes" are preferred by adults who have ADHD. Therefore, although psychotherapy is commonly recommended for use in combination with medication, this does not always manifest. The use of medication as the sole form of treatment results in a better prognosis for adults than no treatment at all.
When using medications to treat ADHD in adults, some things must be taken into consideration that generally are not a concern when treating children and adolescents. According to Northern County Psychiatric Associates, dosage levels and the use of particular medications have to be considered with adults because their kidney and liver functions are not as efficient as a child's. Also, adults are more likely to be taking other medications that might have interactions with some ADHD medications.
Stimulant medications come in both short- and long-acting forms to meet the needs of individuals. Possible stimulant medications that may be prescribed to treat adult ADHD include methylphenidate, which comes in brand names such as Ritalin and Concerta; dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, which is sold under the brand name Adderall; dextroamphetamine, marketed as Dexedrine; and lisdexamfetamine, which is available under the brand name Vyvanse.
Stimulants have side effects that every adult should take into consideration and understand as they use these medications. Possible side effects of stimulants include insomnia, increased pulse, a reduction in appetite, possible seizures and tics of the face. Stimulant medications are not generally used with adults who have high blood pressure or heart disease due to the increased risk of sudden heart failure. Doctors typically test adults before putting them on stimulant medication to rule out the possibility of any underlying heart problems.
A commonly prescribed non-stimulant medication is Strattera. Strattera has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat ADHD and can effectively reduce symptoms for up to 24 hours. It also has antidepressant qualities. Antidepressants such as bupropion and venlafaxine are antidepressant medications which are generally used in the treatment of adults who experience mood disorders such as depression along with their ADHD.