You can treat the symptoms of adult ADHD with medications, counseling, or both. You’ll work with your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.
ADHD is different for everyone, so there’s no one treatment for all. Your treatment plan will depend on lots of things, including how the disorder affects your life, other conditions you might have, and any medications you take for them.
Medication can help get your symptoms under control by treating the way your brain thinks. And counseling can give you skills to manage your day-to-day life. It teaches you how to tackle problems the disorder may cause, like losing things, being easily distracted, or being late.
Most people getting treated for ADHD take these prescription meds. They might help you pay attention longer, and help your brain send and receive signals so you can think more clearly. They can keep you from acting on impulse, too.
Stimulants your doctor might prescribe include:
- Amphetamine-based meds (Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, ProCentra, Vyvanse)
- Methylphenidate-based meds (Concerta, Daytrana, Focalin, Metadate, Ritalin)
Once you agree on a medication, your doctor will probably prescribe a low dose and see if it helps your symptoms. If it doesn’t, you may need to increase the dose slowly or try something else.
Many of these medications come in both short- and long-acting forms. Short-acting drugs wear off after about 4 hours. You take them two times a day. Long-acting drugs can last 8 to 12 hours, and you take them once a day. Talk with your doctor to decide which works best for your life, and to figure out the best time of day to take your medication.
You shouldn’t take stimulants if you have certain conditions like heart disease, glaucoma, or a history of alcohol or drug abuse. If you take an antidepressant, you should talk to your doctor before taking a stimulant, too.
Side effects include dry mouth, loss of appetite, insomnia, and headaches. Some go away on their own after a few days or weeks. Some don’t, but you may find the benefits are worth dealing with the side effects. If the side effects bother you, your doctor might change your dose or suggest another medication.
Don’t stop taking any medication suddenly without telling your doctor.