Medication is one of the cornerstones of treatment for ADHD, equal in importance to therapy and other interventions.
Today, there are dozens of options, but they all fall into two basic categories: stimulants and non-stimulants.
At least eight new ADHD medications have been approved for the disorder in the past five years, according to a report published in March 2022 on the Contemporary Pediatrics website.
Nonmedication treatment for ADHD is still very important and necessary. The most common treatments are cognitive behavioral therapy and straight behavioral therapy, which includes the development and use of behavior plans across all environments.
Extra time on tests, creating lists to help with organizational skills for school, bouncy bands for restless fingers and wiggle seats for desks are also very helpful.
But the optimal treatment for ADHD is one that combines therapy and other interventions with medication.
Classic & new medications
Some of the older stimulants that remain popular include:
- Adderall XR (amphetamine)
- Concerta (methylphenidate)
- Dexadrine (amphetamine)
- Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
- Quillivant XR (methylphenidate)
- Ritalin (methylphenidate)
- Stratttera (atomoxetine hydrochloride, non-stimulant)
- Vyvanse (lisdexamphetamine dimesylate)
Most of the new ADHD medications approved in the past five years are also stimulants, although one is not:
- Cotempla – methyphenidate extended-release orally disintegrating tablets,
- Adhansia – methyphenidate hydrochloride,
- Aptensio – methylphenidate hydrochloride extended release,
- Jornay – methylphenidate hydrochloride extended release,
- Dyanavel – amphetamine extended-release oral suspension,
- Adzenys – mixture of immediate-release and polymer-coated, delayed-release amphetamine resin particles in orally disintegrating tablets, and
- Mydayis – mixed salts of a single-entity amphetamine product.
- Qelbree (viloxazine) – non-stimulant selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
All these medications require a doctor’s prescription.
Find a psychopharmacologist
“Before starting a patient on stimulants, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a thorough cardiovascular assessment, including patient and family health histories; evaluation of all medications currently being used; and a physical exam focused on cardiovascular disease risk factors,” Erin O’Connor Prange, MSN, CRNP from Children’s Hospital Philadelphia, Pennsylvania noted in remarks delivered at the 43rd national conference on pediatric health care in Dallas, Texas.
Some of the side effects that are possible with stimulant treatment include decreased appetite, headache, weight loss, mood swings and trouble sleeping.
It is wise to be treated by a psychiatrist (child & adolescent psychiatrist for children and teens) who specializes in psychopharmacology for ADHD, and who can make the decision on which medication to use, and at which dosage.
Psychopharmacology is the specialization of use of medications to treat disorders affecting behavior, sensations, moods and thoughts.
A psychopharmacologist who specializes in ADHD medications will also usually prescribe an EKG to rule out cardiac problems, and will take a thorough family history, prior to beginning treatment.
Such a specialist can also fine tune the treatment if a medication is not effective, or produces side effects.
Prange EO. ADHD treatment explosion: new meds are here! 43rd National Conference on Pediatric Health Care. March 23, 2022; Dallas, Texas.