Adult ADHD (cont.)

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What is the treatment for adult ADHD?

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Psychological treatments for ADHD in adults include education about the illness, participation in an ADHD support group, and skills training in a variety of issues, like job, organizational, parenting, financial, and time-management skills. Some adults with the disorder may benefit from cognitive behavior therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping the ADHD sufferer alter negative thinking patterns that may impede their functioning.

Similar to the treatment of ADHD in children, adults often benefit from being prescribed a stimulant medication. Perhaps the oldest prescribed stimulant for the treatment of ADHD is Ritalin. However, given the longer days that teens and adults have compared to young children, stimulants that last much longer are usually prescribed in adults. Examples of such medications include long-acting preparations of methylphenidate, like Daytrana patchs, Concerta and dexmethylphenidate (Focalin-XR), as well as the long-acting amphetamine salt Adderall-XR. Long-acting stimulants also include lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse). However, adults who have a more variable schedule, as in college students who may take day classes some days and night classes other days, may prefer shorter-acting stimulants like amphetamine salt (Adderall) and methylphenidate preparations, like Focalin and Metadate, so they can vary the time they take the medication without being concerned that they'll have trouble sleeping at night. While modafanil (Provigil) is used to treat sleep attacks (narcolepsy) and is also a stimulant, some studies indicate a potential use in the treatment of ADHD while others do not demonstrate its effectiveness.

Some adults may need to take a nonstimulant medication for treatment of ADHD. For adults whose symptoms early in the morning or late in the evening are an issue, stimulants may not be the optimal medication treatment. For others, side effects like low appetite, insomnia, tremors, less frequently tics, and rarely hallucinations may make it unwise for the person to take a stimulant medication. Stimulant treatment of people with ADHD who have no history of drug abuse tends to contribute to a decreased likelihood of developing a substance-abuse problem later on. Those who have a recent history of alcohol or other drug abuse may consider avoiding the small but present addiction potential of stimulants. For individuals who either experience suboptimal effects, side effects, or significant side effects of stimulants, nonstimulant medications like guanfacine (Tenex or Intuniv); clonidine (Catapress or Kapvay), or atomoxetine (Strattera) may be in order.

People who suffer from ADHD are at higher risk for developing mood problems during adulthood. They may therefore benefit from medications that have been found to be helpful for people who have both ADHD and depression or anxiety, like buproprion (Wellbutrin) or venlafaxine (Effexor).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/7/2013

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