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Medicines for ADHD

Medicine is an important component of treating ADHD. There are many types of medications that can be used to control ADHD symptoms.

These medicines are available in short-acting (immediate-release), intermediate-acting, and long-acting forms. It may take some time for a physician to find the best medication, dosage, and schedule for someone with ADHD. 

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Stimulants for ADHD

A class of medicines called psychostimulants or stimulants have been used to effectively treat ADHD for decades. These drugs increase attention by helping users to focus their thoughts and ignore distractions. They may also decrease hyperactivity and impulsivity. Stimulant medications are effective in 70% to 80% of patients.

Some experts consider stimulants the first line of treatment for ADHD in children and adolescents. Some stimulants are approved for use in children over 3 years of age, while others are approved for children over 6 years of age. 

Stimulant medicines approved to treat ADHD include:

Generic versions are also available for some of these medicines. Note that only some of these stimulants -- like Adderall XR, Concerta, Vyvanse, Quillivant XR, and Focalin XR -- are FDA-approved for adults.

Learn more about stimulant therapy.

Nonstimulant Medicines to Treat ADHD

In cases where stimulants don’t work or cause unpleasant side effects, nonstimulants might help. Strattera is used in children, adolescents, and adults. Intuniv is used in children and teens 6 to 17 years old. Both medications improve concentration and impulse control. Catapres or Tenex are also used in people with ADHD. Generic versions are also available for some.

Medical Food to Treat ADHD

Vayarin is a prescription medical food to treat ADHD.  Vayarin contains a variety of fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. An imbalance of fats is thought to be linked to ADHD.

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