Is Medication the Best Treatment for my ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental condition that impacts over 360 million adults and 120 million children worldwide. Whether your child is newly diagnosed or you’ve been recently diagnosed as an adult, finding the right treatment is all about finding the right combination of lifestyle or medication changes (or both) that help adapt your world to your brain.
As psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, we believe in the power of effective medication management. However, that doesn’t mean other options aren’t as good. At Balance Psychiatric Services, we view mental health care as holistic, which means we combine different types of healthcare to create the best treatment plan for you as possible.
Out of the hundreds of different ways you can make ADHD more manageable, medication is one of the most common. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that almost 10% of U.S. kids take ADHD medication, and other experts confirm a rising trend in adults filling prescriptions for stimulant medications. Although these statistics vary, it’s clear that ADHD medication is becoming more popular across all age groups – but is it right for you?
Types of ADHD Medication
There are two main categories of ADHD medication: stimulants and non-stimulants. Here’s a brief description of each.
- Stimulants: These medications target neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine that significantly regulate attention, focus, and impulse control. Adderall, Dexedrine, Ritalin, and Concerta (amphetamines and methylphenidates) are examples of commonly prescribed stimulants.
- Non-Stimulants: Non-stimulant medications are alternatives to stimulants but still target the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, so they also help improve attention span, impulsivity, and working memory. While the most popular non-stimulants like Atomoxetnie, Guanfacine, and Clonidine are just as effective as stimulants for most people, blood pressure medications or antidepressants are also top contenders for treatment.
Pros and Cons of ADHD Medication
Medication is the one thing that alleviates major barriers for some people to learn new skills that help improve their mental well-being.
But like any type of treatment, drugs for ADHD have both positives and negatives to incorporating them into your healthcare treatment. Overall, ADHD medications are viewed as generally safe for most people. Here are some of the pros to taking them to manage your symptoms.
- Medications are backed by decades of research showing they help reduce symptoms.
- Starting medication at an appropriate time during childhood doesn’t cause them to develop a dependence, contrary to popular belief. Think of it like a necessary tool to function, like someone who relies on a cane to walk.
- These medications can help you improve executive functioning skills, ultimately improving academic and work performance and social interactions.
However, there are some reasons why some people are hesitant to take them, like:
- The U.S. is still experiencing an Adderall shortage, which began in August of 2022.
- Some people experience significant side effects like decreased appetite, dizziness, insomnia, and nausea.
Developing a dependency on stimulant medications is possible for adults when the medication is misused.
It’s important to both do your own research and talk to a medical professional, specifically one that specializes in mental health medication routine, before you make a final decision.
Are you interested in learning more about ADHD medications? Or are you or your child recently diagnosed and looking to explore treatment options? Schedule an appointment with one of our psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners today to discover if medication is the best treatment for your ADHD.