All adhd meds: ADHD Medications List: Stimulants and Nonstimulants
ADHD Medications List: Stimulants and Nonstimulants
Stimulants are the most common ADHD medications, but they don’t work for everyone. Non-stimulants have fewer side effects but take longer to work. Making certain lifestyle changes may also help reduce symptoms.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that causes a range of symptoms.
- problems concentrating
- an inability to finish tasks
Medications can help decrease ADHD symptoms in children and adults. In fact, many drugs are available to treat ADHD.
While not every person with ADHD takes the same drugs, and treatment approaches can vary between children and adults, the following list of drugs for ADHD can help you talk to your doctor about the options that are right for you.
Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. They’re often the first course of drugs used for ADHD treatment.
You might hear this class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medications. They work by increasing the amounts of two neurotransmitter hormones called dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
This effect improves concentration and decreases the fatigue that’s common with ADHD.
Many brand-name stimulants are now only available as generic versions, which cost less and may be preferred by some insurance companies. However, other drugs are only available as brand-name products.
Amphetamines are stimulants used for ADHD. They include:
They come in immediate-release (a drug that’s released into your body right away) and extended-release (a drug that’s released into your body slowly) oral forms. Brand names of these drugs include:
- Adderall XR (generic available)
- Dexedrine (generic available)
- Dyanavel XR
- ProCentra (generic available)
Methamphetamine is related to ephedrine and amphetamine. It also works by stimulating the CNS.
It’s not known exactly how this drug works to help ADHD symptoms. Like other stimulants, methamphetamine may increase the amounts of hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain.
It can reduce your appetite and increase your blood pressure. This drug comes as an oral tablet taken once or twice per day.
Methylphenidate works by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain. This helps increase levels of these hormones.
It’s also a stimulant. It comes in immediate-release, extended-release, and controlled-release oral forms.
It also comes as a transdermal patch under the brand name Daytrana. Brand names include:
- Aptensio XR (generic available)
- Metadate ER (generic available)
- Concerta (generic available)
- Ritalin (generic available)
- Ritalin LA (generic available)
- Methylin (generic available)
Dexmethylphenidate is another stimulant for ADHD that’s similar to methylphenidate. It’s available as the brand-name medication Focalin.
Nonstimulants affect the brain differently than stimulants do. These drugs also affect neurotransmitters, but they don’t increase dopamine levels. In general, it takes longer to see results from these drugs than from stimulants.
These drugs come in several classes. A doctor might prescribe them when stimulants aren’t safe or are ineffective. They may also prescribe them if a person wants to avoid the side effects of stimulants.
Atomoxetine (Strattera) blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine in the brain. This lets norepinephrine work longer.
The drug comes as an oral form you take once or twice per day. This drug is also available as a generic.
Atomoxetine has caused liver damage in a small number of people. If you have signs of liver problems while taking this drug, your doctor will check your liver function.
Signs of liver problems include:
- a tender or swollen abdomen
- yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
Clonidine ER (Kapvay)
Clonidine ER (Kapvay) is used to reduce hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and distractibility in people with ADHD. Other forms of clonidine are used to treat high blood pressure.
Because it also lowers blood pressure, people taking it for ADHD may feel lightheaded.
This drug is available as a generic.
Guanfacine ER (Intuniv)
Guanfacine is normally prescribed for high blood pressure in adults. This drug is available as a generic, but only the time-release version and its generics are approved for use in children with ADHD.
The time-release version is called Guanfacine ER (Intuniv).
This drug may help with memory and behavioral problems. It may also help improve aggression and hyperactivity.
Are the same drugs that are used to treat ADHD in children used to treat adult ADHD?
Yes, in most cases. However, the dosages of many of these drugs are different for kids than they are for adults. Also, the side effects of these drugs are different in adults than they are in children. Your medical history can limit your treatment options. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your medical history to get an idea of which of these drugs is likely to work best for you.
— Healthline Medical Team
Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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Your doctor may suggest other ADHD treatments along with medications.
For instance, a 2012 article said that changing your diet may alleviate some ADHD symptoms.
A 2014 study found that taking omega-3 supplements may also modestly improve symptoms in children with ADHD. However, newer research has found that diet changes may not improve ADHD symptoms. Further research is needed.
Talk to your doctor about your drug options as well as the alternatives, such as these natural remedies. It’s important to discuss all ADHD treatment options with your doctor to gain the best results.
What Are the Facts About Medication for Adult ADHD?
Medications for adults living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be stimulants and non-stimulants. Doctors may also prescribe certain other medications off-label.
According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), more than 75% of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are likely to have symptoms persist into adulthood. Adults may be calmer but still have trouble with organization and impulsivity.
Some ADHD medications that are used to treat ADHD in children can help control symptoms that linger into adulthood. In this article, we’ll go over the different types of ADHD medication, as well as other management techniques.
Stimulant and nonstimulant medications are used to treat ADHD. Stimulants are considered the first-line choice for treatment. They help adjust the levels of two chemical messengers in your brain called norepinephrine and dopamine.
Stimulants increase the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine that are available to your brain. This allows you to increase your focus. It’s thought that norepinephrine causes the main action, and dopamine reinforces it.
Stimulants that can be used to treat adult ADHD include methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) as well as amphetamine compounds like:
- amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
Atomoxetine (Strattera) is the first nonstimulant drug approved to treat ADHD in adults. It’s a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, so it works to increase levels of norepinephrine only.
Although atomoxetine seems to be less effective than stimulants, it also seems to be less addictive. It’s still effective and a good option if you can’t take stimulants. You only have to take it once per day, which also makes it convenient. It can be used for long-term treatment if necessary.
In 2022, a new nonstimulant option was approved by the FDA for both adults and children over 6 years of age. Viloxazine (Qelbree) has been used as an antidepressant in the UK since the 1970s and is available as a once-a-day pill.
A 2021 clinical trial examining the use of viloxazine in adolescents 13 to 17 years old noted “statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement” in both inattention and hyperactivity and noted that the medication was generally well tolerated.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t officially approved antidepressants for adult ADHD. But some doctors may prescribe antidepressants as an off-label treatment for adults with ADHD that appears alongside other mental health conditions.
Learn more about the connection between ADHD and depression.
Bupropion is also known by its brand name, Wellbutrin. It increases the level of the chemical messenger dopamine. It also slightly increases your level of norepinephrine.
Your doctor may prescribe bupropion to treat your ADHD if you also have depression or use nicotine.
Guanfacine and clonidine
Guanfacine is sold under the brand name Tenex or Intuniv. Clonidine is sold as Catapres. They help regulate the part of your brain that controls your ability to pay attention.
Your doctor may prescribe guanfacine or clonidine to treat your ADHD if you also have tics or anxiety. They both take several weeks to work.
Clonidine may reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity but not inattention. It may be particularly helpful if you have Tourette syndrome.
Guanfacine has less of a sedating effect than clonidine. It lasts longer than clonidine and also helps you focus.
Regardless of what drug you and your doctor decide is best to treat your ADHD, it’s important to know the side effects. Carefully go over any medication prescribed to you with your doctor and pharmacist. Look over the labels and literature.
Stimulants can decrease appetite. They also can lead to headaches and sleeplessness.
Check the packaging of antidepressants. These drugs often include warnings about irritability, anxiety, insomnia, or mood changes.
Don’t use stimulant drugs and atomoxetine if you have:
- structural heart problems
- high blood pressure
- heart failure
- heart rhythm problems
Medication is only half the picture of treatment for adult ADHD.
You can also find calm and focus by setting up your environment effectively. Computer programs can help you organize your daily schedule and contacts. Try designating specific spots to store your keys, wallet, and other items.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or talk therapy, may help you find ways to become better organized and to develop study, work, and social skills that help keep you more focused. A therapist can help you work on time management and ways to curb impulsive behavior.
Doctors and patients ask Eli Lilly not to deprive people with ADHD of the only medication allowed in Russia other drugs for patients in Russia, including Strattera. Clinical Psychologist
Alexandra Oleinik , a person with ADHD and mother of a child with this diagnosis.
She reported that community representatives have begun collecting signatures for an open letter to Eli Lilly asking them to continue supplying the drug to Russia.
Strattera is especially important for children with ADHD, as with this medication they are much more likely to succeed in school and complete their education, the authors of the appeal emphasize.
“In Russia, there is only one drug approved for the treatment of ADHD. It’s atomoxetine, and the only brand available is Strattera. This is a very expensive drug by Russian standards, we pay about 1/3 of the average Russian salary for a monthly course. However, those who could afford it bought it consistently as it was the only way to relieve symptoms for ADHD patients. All other drugs for ADHD are prohibited in Russia,” the text says.
“We understand that our medical condition is not considered life-threatening and therefore our medications are considered secondary. But we have no other treatment option. We don’t have another chance at all,” the authors of the letter address on behalf of all ADHD patients in Russia, their parents and doctors.
Oleksandra Oleinik urged patients, parents and healthcare professionals to support the petition, and also send their own appeal to Eli Lilly: [email protected].
The text of the appeal to the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in Russian and English
Dear Eli Lilly,
We are writing to you on behalf of Russia’s neurodivergent people and physicians.
As usual, in these scary days, neurodivergent people are one of the most vulnerable groups in the population. Being a fairly traditional country, Russia is not too tolerant of neurodiversity. We are all trying to find our place in society. And, as you know, the right medication is key to the successful socialization of neurodivergent people.
In Russia, there is only one drug approved for the treatment of ADHD. It’s atomoxetine, and the only brand available is Strattera. This is a very expensive drug by Russian standards, we pay about 1/3 of the average Russian salary for a monthly course. However, those who could afford it bought it consistently as it was the only way to relieve symptoms for ADHD patients. All other drugs for ADHD are prohibited in Russia.
Strattera is especially important for children with ADHD, as with Strattera they are much more likely to succeed in school and complete their education. They literally have no alternative. As people with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD, we know very well that psychotherapy and discipline only partially alleviate our symptoms. What the Strattera does for us is so much more.
We are extremely concerned about Eli Lilly’s recent decision to suspend supplies of “non-essential drugs”. We understand that our medical condition is not considered life-threatening and therefore our medicines are considered secondary. But, as we said, we have no other treatment option. We don’t have another chance at all.
On behalf of all ADHD patients in Russia, their parents and physicians, we ask Eli Lilly to continue deliveries of Strattera to Russia. There is no substitute for this medicine. This is important for us. We ask for mercy.
Dear Eli Lilly and Company representative,
I am writing on behalf of the neurodivergent people and medical professionals of Russia.
In this horrible moment, as usually, the neurodivergent people are among the most vulnerable. Being a more traditional country, Russia is not very tolerant of neurodiversity. We all struggle to find our place in society. And, as you know, the appropriate medication is key to the socialization of the neurodivergent people.
In Russia, there is only one medication approved to treat ADHD. That’s atomoxetine, and the only available brand is Strattera. It is very expensive by Russian standards, we pay about 1/3 of the median Russian salary for a month’s course. However, the ones who could afford it bought it as it is the only way for the ADHD patients to alleviate our symptoms. All the other medications for ADHD are banned.
It is crucial for the kids with ADHD as with Strattera they have much better chances to succeed at school and complete their education. They have literally no alternative. As persons with ADHD and parents of kids with ADHD, we know very well that there is only so much that we can achieve with therapy and discipline. What Strattera does for us is so much more.
Strattera gave a chance to socialize to many young survivors of early childhood trauma, currently in foster care or adopted. Those children can go to kindergarten or school, study and meet other kids of their age thanks to Strattera. Therapists say that their work with those trauma survivors will be much less efficient if they do not receive Strattera.
We are incredibly conceeded by the recent decision of Eli Lilly to suspend the shipments of “nonessential medicines”. We realize that our medical condition is considered non-life-threatening and so our medications are considered non-essential. But as we said, we have no other option. We have no other chance at all.
On behalf of all the ADHD patients in Russia, their parents, and medical professionals we are begging Eli Lilly to continue supplying Strattera to Russia. It cannot be replaced. It is essential to us. Please have mercy.
The editors of the Mercy.ru portal sent a request to the Russian representative office of Eli Lilly Vostok S.A.
Earlier it was reported that the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is stopping the export of non-essential drugs to Russia due to a special operation by the Russian army in Ukraine, while the supply of drugs for diabetes and cancer will continue.
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How to treat ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
Read the first part of the article (on diagnosing ADHD) here.
Passionate controversy accompanies the use of drugs. In the United States, stimulants are used to treat the symptoms of ADHD, the most common of which is Ritalin (methylphenidad). Their use is sharply criticized by some experts, the public, the World Health Organization expresses concern about them, but a number of medical agencies insist on the effectiveness and safety of stimulants.
Studies confirming the efficacy of stimulants and counter-work demonstrating ineffectiveness, harmful side effects, and the risk of cocaine addiction in adolescence in children who have taken stimulants for a long time could be the subject of a separate article.
Both in the West and in Russia, antipsychotic drugs (Sonapax, Neuleptil, Rispolept, Abilify, Seroquel) are widely used to reduce hyperactivity and excitability of a child. Meanwhile, studies show that these drugs reduce the volume of brain tissue, not to mention such side effects as weight gain, increased blood cholesterol levels, increased blood pressure, the development of diabetes, tremors, up to tardive dyskinesia.
In the UK, the right to prescribe antipsychotics is given not only to narrow specialists, but also to pediatricians. In 2011, the British found that over the past 10 years the number of children taking these drugs has doubled, and among them there are many who are barely 5 years old.
This made a strong impression on the government, which decided to allocate £32 million to expand mental health services for children and adolescents.
As mentioned in the first part of the article, it is very important to conduct a medical examination of a child with ADHD. In some cases, by taking control of physical problems, it is possible to reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity and impaired attention. For example, this happens when the normal blood supply to the brain is restored after the correction of birth injuries of the cervical spine.
In Russia, to improve brain metabolism, increase cortical tone, children with ADHD are often prescribed nootropic drugs (piracetam, encephabol, akatinol memantine, glycine, phenibut). We often hear from doctors that they observe a positive effect of drugs in their practice, but their effectiveness has not been clinically proven.
The image of a child with an unnamed diagnosis of ADHD – inattentive in class, poorly in time, unorganized in everyday life – is often used to advertise multivitamins. I drank the Alphabet and immediately mastered the alphabet and other academic knowledge and skills. In fact, it is unlikely that multivitamins will produce just such an effect. This does not exclude the possibility that a number of specific nutrients may have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms.
There are studies (like this one) that show a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in children and adolescents with ADHD, as well as a positive effect of taking them (like this). The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil, which is beneficial in many ways and has no harmful side effects, except for individual intolerance.
Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com
In this French study, 40 children with symptoms of ADHD were given vitamin B6 (0.6 mg per 1 kg of body weight) and magnesium (6 mg per 1 kg of body weight) daily for 8 weeks. The study participants significantly decreased hyperactivity and aggressiveness, and improved attention. Children in the control group who took placebo showed no such changes. A few weeks after the end of the course, the symptoms of ADHD in children from the experimental group resumed, which also indicates that the improvements were provided precisely by the intake of B6 and magnesium.
For a child and adolescent with ADHD, dietary patterns are important. Some parents are very happy with the effects of a gluten-free/casein-free diet (eliminating the protein gluten found in wheat, rye and a number of other grains, and casein found in milk), which is often recommended for children with autism who share some of the common symptoms of ADHD. (Mercy published a detailed article on the gluten-free diet). Others praise the sugar-free diet (excluding polysaccharides, that is, sucrose and starches), which is also called the specific carbohydrate diet or paleo diet in Russian-language sources, and SCD, GAPS, Paleo Diet in English-language sources.
A recent meta-analysis by Danish scientists suggests that elimination diets that eliminate certain foods that provoke hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention gave the best results in ADHD. By the way, the same study also revealed the usefulness of fish oil for children with ADHD.
Experts advise parents to identify foods to which a child may have an individual intolerance. To do this, you need to rotate products, alternately removing them from the diet for a week or two, observing the severity of ADHD symptoms and evaluating the result.
Dr. Richard Sogn, a child psychiatrist and one of America’s leading experts on ADHD, believes that whatever is good for the brain is good for children with ADHD. First of all, their diet should be rich in protein in the form of meat, eggs, nuts, cheese, legumes. He advises to give these products to the child for breakfast, and also as a snack between lessons.
Carbohydrates are necessary, but in the form of vegetables and fruits, but sugar, sweets, flour products, rice and potatoes should be eliminated or severely limited. It is important to include fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, olive oil, and canola oil in your diet.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding foods with preservatives and artificial food coloring in children with ADHD, and some experts believe that all food additives should be avoided.
The most important method of treating ADHD is behavioral therapy: for children, this is primarily Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), for adolescents and young people – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Applied Behavior Analysis is considered the gold standard in behavioral intervention for autistic children in the US and the UK, but is also being applied to children with ADHD.
In Russia, this method appeared not so long ago and mainly due to the efforts of parents-activists with the continuing resistance of domestic defectology and correctional pedagogy, who declared this therapy to be training. Such an opinion can only be formed with a very superficial acquaintance with this technique. In fact, it is based on a careful analysis of the child’s behavior, allowing to identify his strengths and weaknesses and create a carefully structured behavior modification program based on the encouragement of the desired behavior of the child.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find a competent behavioral analyst and therapist outside the capital, but many parents complete distance courses, participate in conferences, seminars and webinars in order to learn the basics of therapy and help their child on their own. (You can learn more about this in the group “Autism Problem Center”).
There are also home behavioral strategies that experts recommend parents use :
- Daily routine is very important for a child with ADHD. Make it up and make sure your child follows it.
- Organize the space so that all the items your child needs (clothes, toys, school supplies) have a well-defined place. This will allow the child to lose them less often.
- Avoid distractions, especially when your child is doing homework. Be sure to turn off the radio and TV during this time.
- Give your child a choice, but reduce the number of choices to make it easier. Offer a choice of two options for clothing, food, toys, so as not to create sensory and emotional overload.
- When you remind your child of the need to fulfill a particular duty, try to keep all explanations and instructions short and clear. If possible, avoid both persuasion and the threat of punishment.