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What Medical Treatments Are Available for ADHD?

Treatment with medications can be more effective than other forms of treatment.

Treatment with medications is recommended to be the first-line intervention among children and adults with ADHD.[1] [2] These have been proven to be more effective than any behavioural intervention or cognitive behavioural therapy alone. 

There are two main types of medications: stimulants (such as Methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin or Concerta, and lisdexamfetamine, otherwise known as Vyvanse) and non-stimulants. In general, stimulants are considered as the first line therapy because of their rapid onset of action, sometimes as quick as 30 minutes, with a track  record of safety and efficacy. These medications work by increasing the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in the nervous system between the neurons, particularly in the frontal lobe of the brain. There are also different formulations of these medications with different durations of effect. Non-stimulants, which include atomoxetine (otherwise known as Strattera), imipramine and clonidine, can be opted for if treatment with stimulants lead to too many side effects. These non-stimulant medications treat other coexisting conditions, such as depression, as well. However, they usually take longer to take effect (up to several weeks).

If you’re worried that you have ADHD, click here for a quick self-assessment!

[1] Wolraich, M. L., Hagan, J. F., Allan, C., Chan, E., Davison, D., Earls, M., & Zurhellen, W. (2019). Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics144(4).

[2] Faraone, S. V., & Glatt, S. J. (2009). A comparison of the efficacy of medications for adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder using meta-analysis of effect sizes. The Journal of clinical psychiatry71(6), 754-763.

Information provided by:

Dr Keith Hariman headshot

Dr Keith Hariman

Specialist in Psychiatry, OT&P Healthcare

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.

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