If you or your child has ADHD, you likely know just what a hindrance it can be. While it may not appear to be a physical illness, it can certainly impair one's functioning. That's why it can be beneficial to learn about the best ADHD medication for your situation.
There are many medications that professionals use to treat ADHD. The truth is that no one medication is guaranteed to work with every person. And that's why many people have to go through multiple medications before finding one that actually provides a solution.
The journey can be frustrating. However, if you find the best ADHD medication for yourself or your child, you'll go a long way towards an improved the quality of life for whoever suffers from this disorder.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It's one of the most common mental disorders in children, although it affects adults as well.
The symptoms primarily have to do with inattention and hyperactivity. Inattention is a lack of ability to stay focused on something, while hyperactivity involves not being able to remain still and moving excessively.
It can be difficult to diagnose ADHD in young children, considering that a lot of the symptoms are common behaviors in young children in general. Many children, even those without ADHD, have trouble staying still for long periods of time and have short attention spans.
The difference in children who have ADHD is that the symptoms are more extreme than the average for their age. These symptoms also cause distress and problems with daily functions.
People who have ADHD can have one of three types. They can have the inattentive type, the hyperactive/impulsive type, or a combination of the two.
The inattentive type of ADHD
People with the inattentive type of ADHD tend to have certain symptoms. These include the following:
The hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD
People with the hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD, in contrast, tend to have the following symptoms:
The combined type of ADHD
People who exhibit symptoms from both lists potentially have the combined type of ADHD.
Diagnosis of ADHD
Doctors don't diagnose ADHD using any specific test. Rather, the diagnosis involves information from the adults in a child's life, along with filling out checklists and completing a medical evaluation.
With some medical conditions, treatment is straightforward. You just need to take one pill or do one thing, and you'll be all better. Unfortunately, ADHD is not one of these conditions.
There are many things that you can do to manage your or your child's ADHD. Usually, the most effective treatments for ADHD involve a combination of approaches. These include the best ADHD medication for the patient, behavior therapy, and school interventions (in the case of children).
There are a few different categories of medication that are generally used to treat ADHD. Typically, adults with ADHD take the same medications as children with the condition.
Most people who are taking medication for ADHD take stimulants. The professionals see stimulants as the gold standard when it comes to ADHD medication. Stimulants change the activity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is instrumental in movement, motivation, and emotional responses.
It might not make much sense that doctors would prescribe stimulants to treat children who are already overstimulated or hyperactive. However, the experts clarify this by saying that giving children stimulants will prevent them from needing to seek outside stimulation.
That way, they'll be more capable of focusing on what's relevant and what they need to learn.
There are two main classes of stimulants that are used for ADHD.
For most children, the most effective and easiest to tolerate option is methylphenidate. Methylphenidate drugs come in a variety of forms. There are also amphetamines and chemical variations of amphetamines, which also come in a variety of forms.
Non-stimulant medications are a good option for children and adults who have ADHD who have not found any effectiveness from the stimulants.
These work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine. That is a neurotransmitter in the brain which plays a role in attention.
Students who have ADHD generally need to be treated differently from other students. Teachers need to have the necessary skills in order to help these children manage their condition. However, this is not always the case.
The majority of children who have ADHD are enrolled in classes with a regular teacher, as opposed to one trained to work with special needs children. These teachers might not have the training to deal with children who have ADHD.
In these cases, it is very important that the parents advocate for their children in having their needs met at school. Either they can request that their children be transferred to a more appropriate setting, or they can meet with the teachers and see if they are willing (or able) to work with them to accommodate their child's ADHD.
This does not need to be an adversarial advocacy, but it does need to be firm.
Educators and parents who do not always recognize ADHD need to be ready to push back on well-meaning, but poorly-informed, suggestions that all their child needs is more discipline.
Behavior therapy involves working with a therapist and setting certain goals to change behavior. Basically, the therapist will help the patient learn positive behaviors and eliminate unwanted behaviors.
Behavior therapy is very important in children who have ADHD. ADHD doesn't only affect that particular child. It also affects relationships with friends and family members, and it can be very disruptive in public situations.
Therapists will work with children to help them learn new behaviors that replace behaviors that are currently problematic. Therapy may also involve helping the child learn to express his or her feelings in constructive ways.
In the case of children with ADHD, behavior therapy training for parents will often be involved. It involves parents learning the skills they need in order to manage the behavior of their children and teach them.
The professionals will recommend that you try behavioral therapy before introducing medication to the patient. That's because there is a chance that the therapy alone will work, as it has proven to be just as effective as medication in young children.
Also, even the best ADHD medication can come with side effects, the long-term effects of which are not known.
The 10 Best ADHD Medication Choices
Any given person who has ADHD is more than 80 percent likely to respond to medication, based on statistics. There are two main classes of ADHD medications: methylphenidates and amphetamines.
Of the people who respond, about half of them will find either of the two main classes of the best ADHD medication to be effective. The other half will operate better on one or the other.
Of course, there are variations on both methylphenidates and amphetamines, such as modified compounds and mixtures.
Also, there are some drugs of the same basic name that come with suffixes to denote different methods of release. XR means extra release, SR means sustained release, and LA means long acting.
For example, there is a difference between Ritalin and Ritalin SR because of the ways they are delivered into the body, even though these are the same brand and substance.
This article is strictly for informational purposes only. Under no circumstances should you self-diagnosis and it is imperative that you consult with a doctor before taking any of the drugs listed in this article.
This goes double if you are considering treatment for your child. Always consult a professional.
Methylphenidates are part of a class of medications referred to as stimulants. They stimulate the central nervous system by altering the amounts of some of the natural substances in the brain.
These are some of the most common medications used to treat ADHD. It exists in various forms, as is the case with many of the drugs that can be considered the best ADHD medication.
Most people, even those who have no direct exposure to ADHD, have heard of Ritalin. This is one of the most common drugs that professionals use to treat ADHD and definitely a candidate for the best ADHD medication.
Ritalin is actually a brand name for a certain tablet version of methylphenidate. It is an immediate-release tablet, and its effects last for about four hours.
Ritalin, an immediate release drug, can come in dosages of 5, 10, or 15 milligrams. Ritalin LA is a capsule that lasts about 8 hours and can come in dosages of 10, 20, 30, and 40 milligrams; and Ritalin SR is a tablet that also lasts for about 8 hours and comes in a 20-milligram dosage.
Daytrana is a brand name for a skin patch that releases methylphenidate into the body. The effects last for about 8 hours, and the patient can take it in dosages of 10, 15, 20, and 30 milligrams.
Aptensio is another brand name for another specific type of methylphenidate drug. In most cases, it is available as Aptensio XR, meaning extended release.
Aptensio XR is a capsule that gives the patient immediate and extended release. The effects last for 12 hours, and you can get a large variety of dosages. It comes in dosages of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60 milligrams.
As with the other contenders for best ADHD medication, Concerta is a brand name. This methylphenidate drug is a tablet that lasts for 12 hours and comes in dosages of 18, 27, 36, and 54 milligrams.
You may think of amphetamines as a type of drug, but the truth is that amphetamine is actually a specific compound, just like water and carbon dioxide.
Of course, dextro-amphetamines are analogous to dextro-methylphenidates in that these substances only consist of one of the two isomers.
Researchers still aren't sure exactly how amphetamines work. However, they believe that it increases the effectiveness or amount released of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Dexedrine is one of the shorter-acting amphetamines, although Dexedrine Spansule is longer-acting. The Dexedrine brand name denotes this dextro-amphetamine that takes effect within about 30 to 45 minutes and can last for 3 to 4 hours.
Dexedrine Spansule is a capsule with an immediate release and then another gradual release. Patients can get it in 5, 10, or 15-milligram dosages, and it will last in the body for about 8 hours.
ProCentra is another brand name dextro-amphetamine. It comes in a liquid form, so not surprisingly, it's an immediate release medication. It lasts for about four hours and comes in dosages with a density of about five milligrams per teaspoon.
Modified amphetamine mixtures
These are basically mixtures of dextro-amphetamine and levoamphetamine. They are somewhat less potent than dextro-amphetamines since dextro-amphetamines are more potent than levo-amphetamines overall. Some of these can be seen as contenders for the title of best ADHD medication as well.
Adderall is yet another brand name. In standard form, it's an immediate-release tablet. It will last 4 hours in the patient's body, and you can access it in dosages of 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 20 and 30 milligrams.
Adderall XR is a capsule that will give the patient both immediate and delayed release. It will last 8 hours in the system and can come in dosages of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 milligrams.
Adderall is a very well-known drug. Many people would see it as the best ADHD medication that is available to them.
Another brand name modified amphetamine mixture is Evekeo. It is an immediate-release tablet that will last for 4 hours in the body and can be accessed in 5 and 10-milligram dosages.
There are three non-stimulant medications that have been approved as ADHD treatments. These include Strattera, Intuniv, and Kapnay. The latter two had the original purpose of treating high blood pressure and are referred to as alpha-adrenergic agents.
Although these non-stimulant medications have shown effectiveness in the treatment of ADHD, physicians will generally recommend that patients try them only after stimulant medications have proven unsuccessful.
Because there are certain side effects that come with stimulants, some people would consider the non-stimulant options to be the best ADHD medication options.
Strattera is a brand-name norepinephrine uptake inhibitor. Specifically, it is atomoxetine hydrochloride.
Atomoxetine hydrochlorides are non-stimulant drugs, unlike all the medications listed above. Specifically, atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, and it's primarily used to treat ADHD.
Atomoxetine hydrochloride is the hydrochloride salt of atomoxetine. Scientists don't know the precise mechanism by which atomoxetine hydrochloride works, but it appears to inhibit reabsorption of norepinephrine, which allows the norepinephrine to stay in the synaptic cleft for longer.
That might lead to decreased impulsivity and increased attention.
Recovery from ADHD?
At this time, there is no cure for ADHD. However, this doesn't mean that there's no hope.
People who have ADHD can definitely experience mental health recovery. What this means is that they can live meaningful lives and live up to their full potential.
They can accomplish this by finding the right treatment plan and sticking to it. Basically, the ADHD won't go away, but people who have it can manage it on an ongoing basis and not let it control their lives.
Which treatment will be most effective depends on the person. It has been shown, however, that a combination of behavioral therapies and the best ADHD medication for that person is the best possible approach.
Understand ADHD and How to Fight It Now?
Of course, there is much more research that scientists need to do when it comes to ADHD, its causes, and its treatments. However, the tools that are already available do help quite a bit.
Many people will opt not to use the best ADHD medication as part of their regimen. That is anyone's prerogative, but the medications have shown effectiveness in the majority of patients.
You do need to keep in mind that none of the medications on the above list are guaranteed to be effective. Expecting the first medication that you or your child tries to work is somewhat unrealistic.
However, if you work with your doctor, you may just be able to find the best ADHD medication for you that makes your life a lot easier and better.
What do you think of everything you've just learned about the drugs that can be considered the best ADHD medication? Feel free to share your opinion and experiences in the comments section!