- ADHD in Adults: Diagnosis, Treatment
- Take the Adult ADHD Quiz
- Concentration Killers: Brain Drains
- Adult ADHD FAQs
- Patient Comments: Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - Diagnosis
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
- Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) facts
- What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
- What are causes and risk factors for adult ADHD?
- How prevalent is adult ADHD?
- What are adult ADHD symptoms and signs?
- What tests do health-care professionals use to diagnose adult ADHD?
- What is the treatment for adult ADHD? What are adult ADHD medications?
- Are there any home remedies for adult ADHD?
- What are complications of adult ADHD?
- What is the prognosis of adult ADHD?
- Is it possible to prevent adult ADHD?
- Are support groups available for those living with adult ADHD?
- Where can people find additional information on adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
Quick GuideADHD in Adults: Signs, Cause, and Management
What is the treatment for adult ADHD? What are adult ADHD medications?
Treatments for ADHD in adults that do not involve medication include education about the illness, participation in an ADHD support group, and instructional training for a number of issues, including career counseling, organizational skills building, parent counseling, financial training, and development of time-management skills. Some adults with this condition may benefit from cognitive behavior therapy, a form of psychotherapy that seeks to help the individual alter patterns of thinking that may interfere with their functioning.
As with the treatment of ADHD in children, adults often benefit from being treated with a stimulant medication. Commonly, the first prescribed stimulant for the treatment of this condition is methylphenidate (Ritalin). Given the longer days and increased responsibilities that adolescents and adults have compared to young children, longer-acting stimulants are usually prescribed. Examples of those medications include long-acting methylphenidate, like Daytrana patches, Concerta, Quillivant, and dexmethylphenidate (Focalin-XR), as well as the long-acting amphetamine salt Adderall-XR. Other long-acting stimulants include lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse). Adults with a more variable schedule, like college students who may take day classes some days and night classes other days, or around-the-clock shift workers like nurses, may prefer shorter-acting stimulants like amphetamine salt (Adderall) or dextroamphetamine sulfate (Zenzedi), or methylphenidate preparations, like Ritalin, Focalin, or Metadate, so they can change the time they take the medication, even on a daily basis, without causing them to have insomnia. While modafinil (Provigil) is also a stimulant and is used to treat sleep attacks (narcolepsy), some research indicates that it may be helpful in treating ADHD while other studies do not show its effectiveness.
Adults whose symptoms early in the morning or late in the evening are an issue, stimulants may not be the optimal medication treatment and, therefore, they may respond better to a nonstimulant medication for treatment of ADHD. Side effects like low appetite, trouble sleeping, tremors, emotional inhibition, less frequently tics, and rarely hallucinations may make taking a stimulant medication an unwise. Using a stimulant to treat ADHD in people who have no history of drug abuse tends to decrease the likelihood of their ever developing a substance abuse problem. However, people with a recent history of alcohol or other drug abuse may want to avoid the small but possible addiction potential of stimulant medication. The long-term impact of addiction to a stimulant may be serious, potentially resulting in having a stroke or heart attack. Individuals who either had less than optimal effects or had significant side effects to taking stimulants may respond better to a nonstimulant medication like guanfacine (Tenex or Intuniv), clonidine (Catapres or Kapvay), or atomoxetine (Strattera), or to taking the prescription supplement phosphatidylserine-omega-3 (Vayarin), which has a specialized delivery system compared to over-the-counter preparations of the omega-3 supplement.
People with ADHD are more likely to develop mood problems as adults. They therefore may benefit from medications like bupropion (Wellbutrin) or venlafaxine (Effexor) that treat both ADHD and depression or anxiety.