ADHD in Children, Adults, and Seniors: A Deeper Look (Part 3 of 3)

Treatment for ADHD

Medical Treatments

Numerous medications are available to treat ADHD, including antidepressants (especially those in the tricyclic family); stimulants in the methylphenidate and amphetamine family; medications traditionally used to lower blood pressure, such as guanfacine and clonidine; and “Noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors” such as atomoxetine. These medications can be helpful in abating symptoms for the right patient with the right set of symptoms. It is important to note that some medications work best for certain subtypes of ADHD, and all medications are associated with risks and possible benefits. Since not all medications are safe or effective for every individual, it is important to complete a thorough evaluation with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner before starting ADHD treatment.

ADHD medications have different properties and mechanisms of action, with some modulating dopamine (DA) and/or norepinephrine (NE) release and absorption in some parts of the brain much more aggressively than others. The range of available medications comes in handy, as not all individuals with ADHD present in the same way or experience the same level of neurotransmitter deregulation. Thus, affected individuals benefit most when they are prescribed the right medications for their individual needs. Finding the right dose is also essential, as inattention, impulsivity, and inefficient information processing can be caused not only by too little DA and/or NE in the prefrontal cortex, but also from too much. I call this the “goldilocks syndrome.” This means that giving someone an ADHD medication that is too strong or a dose that is too high can worsen symptoms or cause them to feel devoid of energy and motivation. Read more