The first treatment indicated for most people’s symptoms of ADHD is medication, specifically medications that are classified as “stimulants.” Stimulant medications work by increasing the activity of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, or front part of the brain. Increasing dopamine activity in this part of the brain helps improve a person with ADHD’s ability to focus and maintain appropriate levels of concentration and motivation.
People with ADHD who take these medications for the first time often describe their effect in the follow ways:
“It’s like my brain is finally quiet enough for me to focus on what’s important.”
“I can sit down and watch a whole movie now.”
“It’s like seeing through glass that’s finally been cleaned.”
“I feel more in control of my thoughts and feelings.”
“My work has improved.”
“I’m getting better grades.”
Stimulant medications are usually started in small doses and increased only if needed. Depending on the formulation of the medicine, some are taken once a day while others are taken twice. Most of the time, stimulants are well tolerated. However, side effects do occur and some common side effects include:
If any of these side effects do occur, the dose of the medication is either adjusted or your provider may try switching you to a different formula or different class of medication. There are many ways to manage the side effects of stimulant medications, and you should always tell your provider if you are experiencing any negative side effects so that you can work together to eliminate them.
Up next, we’ll look at the way the brain responds to ADHD and ADHD treatments and explore some of the newest research on treatment options for ADHD.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our providers to manage your ADHD or evaluate your risk of ADHD, you can contact us here.