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  • Writer's pictureDr Oscar D'Agnone, MD, MRCPsych.

ADHD Focus

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

1. What are the most effective medications for treating ADHD in adults?

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ADHD treatment, ADHD medications, ADHD therapy

There are several effective medications that can be used to treat ADHD in adults.

The most commonly used medications are stimulants, which work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help to improve focus and attention.


Some of the most commonly used stimulants for adult ADHD include:


Methylphenidate: This is the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD in adults. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps to improve focus and attention. Methylphenidate for adults Brand names: generic methylphenidate, Concerta XL, Delmosart prolonged release, Eqasym XL, Medikinet XL, Xaggitin XL.


Amphetamines: These medications work in a similar way to methylphenidate, by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Some examples of amphetamines used to treat adult ADHD include Elvanse (lisdexamfetamine), dexamfetamine.


Non-stimulant medications: For those who cannot tolerate stimulant medications, or who do not find them effective, there are also non-stimulant medications available for treating adult ADHD. These include drugs like atomoxetine (Strattera) and guanfacine.

It is important to note that medication is not the only treatment option for adult ADHD, and a combination of medication and therapy may be the most effective approach for many individuals.


2. What are the non-medication treatments for managing ADHD symptoms in adults?

There are several non-medication treatments that can be used to manage ADHD symptoms in adults.


Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): This is a type of therapy that helps individuals with ADHD identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that can contribute to symptoms. CBT can help individuals with ADHD develop coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms.


Mindfulness meditation: This is a type of meditation that involves focusing on the present moment and becoming more aware of one's thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation can help individuals with ADHD improve their attention and focus and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve overall brain function, including attention, memory, and executive function. Exercise can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are common in individuals with ADHD.


Sleep hygiene: Adequate sleep is essential for overall brain function, and individuals with ADHD often struggle with sleep issues. Good sleep hygiene, such as establishing a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed, can help improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of ADHD.


Organization and time-management strategies: Individuals with ADHD often struggle with organization and time-management, which can contribute to symptoms. Developing strategies such as using a planner or creating daily to-do lists can help individuals with ADHD better manage their time and tasks.


It is important to note that non-medication treatments may not be effective for everyone with ADHD, and a combination of medication and therapy may be the most effective approach for some individuals. It is important to work closely with a doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for everyone.


3. How can I manage the side effects of ADHD medications?

Adjust the timing of your medication: Some side effects, such as insomnia, may be more likely if you take your medication later in the day. Talk to your doctor about adjusting the timing of your medication to reduce the likelihood of side effects.


Stay hydrated and eat well: ADHD medications can sometimes cause appetite suppression, so it's important to make sure you're eating enough and staying hydrated. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein can help minimize side effects.


Get enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep is important for overall health and can also help minimize side effects of ADHD medication.


Consider non-medication treatments: As mentioned in the previous answer, non-medication treatments such as therapy, mindfulness, and exercise can also be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms and reducing the need for high doses of medication.


Be patient: It can take time to find the right medication and dose that works for you, and side effects may occur initially.


4. Can ADHD be cured, or will I have to manage it for the rest of my life?

Currently, there is no known cure for ADHD.

However, there are many effective treatments available to help manage the symptoms of ADHD.

Some individuals with ADHD may experience a reduction in symptoms as they age, but this is not always the case. Many adults continue to experience symptoms throughout their lives, and managing ADHD becomes a lifelong process.

Over time, as you learn more about your own symptoms and what works best for you, you may be able to adjust your treatment plan accordingly.

Having ADHD is not a personal failing, and there is no shame in seeking help to manage your symptoms. With the right support and resources, many individuals with ADHD are able to live happy, successful lives.


5. How can I tell if my symptoms are due to ADHD or another condition?


Learn about ADHD: Educate yourself on the symptoms of ADHD and how they may manifest in adults. This will help you identify any symptoms that you may be experiencing.


Keep track of your symptoms: Make a list of all your symptoms, including when they started, how often they occur, and how severe they are. Also, note if there are any specific triggers or situations that seem to worsen your symptoms.


Rule out other conditions: Some conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, can have symptoms similar to those of ADHD.

Professional evaluation is the best way to determine if your symptoms are due to ADHD or another condition.

At The OAD Clinic We use standardized assessments and questionnaires and computerized tests like TOVA, as well as gather information from your medical history and personal experiences.


6. Can ADHD be diagnosed in adulthood, or is it only diagnosed in childhood?

Yes, ADHD can be diagnosed in adulthood, although it is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

While ADHD is typically associated with childhood, many individuals with ADHD continue to experience symptoms into adulthood.

In fact, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms in adulthood.

However, the symptoms of ADHD in adulthood can be different from those in childhood. For example, hyperactivity may decrease, but inattention and impulsivity may persist.


7. How can I manage my ADHD symptoms at work or school?


Develop a routine: Establishing a consistent routine can help you stay organized and on track. Try to schedule your day with a routine that includes regular breaks, meals, and time for exercise or other activities.


Break tasks into smaller chunks: Large tasks can be overwhelming, so break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This can help you stay focused and motivated, and make it easier to complete the task.


Use tools to stay organized: There are many tools available that can help you stay organized and focused. For example, you can use a planner, calendar, or task list to keep track of deadlines and priorities. You can also use apps or software designed specifically for managing ADHD symptoms.


Minimize distractions: Minimizing distractions can help you stay focused on your work. Try to work in a quiet space, or use noise-cancelling headphones if necessary. You can also use browser extensions or apps to block distracting websites or notifications.


Communicate with others: Let your coworkers, boss, or teachers know that you have ADHD and what you need to be successful. This can include accommodations such as extra time on assignments or meetings, or a quiet workspace.


Take care of yourself: Getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food can help you manage ADHD symptoms. It's also important to take breaks and engage in activities that you enjoy to help reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.

Remember that everyone with ADHD is unique, so it may take some trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you. Don't be afraid to ask for help or support from coworkers, friends, or family members.


8. How can I improve my relationships with friends and family when I have ADHD?


Educate your loved ones about ADHD: Educating your friends and family about ADHD can help them understand what you're going through and why you may struggle with certain things. You can share information, articles, or books on ADHD to help them learn more.


Communicate openly: Communicate with your loved ones openly and honestly about your ADHD symptoms and how they impact you. This can help them understand your needs and how they can best support you.


Be reliable: ADHD can sometimes make it difficult to follow through on commitments, but being reliable and keeping your word can help build trust with your loved ones. Make sure to follow through on commitments or let them know if you're unable to.


Practice active listening: Active listening means giving your full attention to the person who is speaking, without interrupting or getting distracted. This can help improve communication and strengthen your relationships.


Seek support: Consider joining a support group for adults with ADHD or seeking the help of a therapist who specializes in ADHD. This can provide you with a safe space to talk about your experiences and provide you with tools to improve your relationships.


Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself, including getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food, can help you manage your ADHD symptoms and reduce stress. This can help you show up for your relationships with more patience and understanding.


9. How can I manage my emotions and avoid impulsive behaviour when I have ADHD?


Take a deep breath: When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or impulsive, take a deep breath and try to refocus your attention. This can help you stay calm and avoid impulsive actions.


Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and can help you regulate your reactions. Try practicing mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.


Delay gratification: Impulsive behavior can often be driven by a desire for immediate gratification. Try to delay gratification by setting short-term goals and rewarding yourself only after you've achieved them.


Use positive self-talk: Positive self-talk can help you manage negative emotions and impulses. When you feel overwhelmed, try repeating positive affirmations or phrases to yourself, such as "I can handle this" or "I am in control."


Use coping strategies: Develop a list of coping strategies that work for you when you're feeling overwhelmed or impulsive. This can include things like taking a walk, listening to music, or practicing a hobby.


Seek professional help: A mental health professional can provide you with tools and strategies to manage your emotions and impulsive behaviour. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) are both effective treatments for ADHD that can help with emotional regulation.


Remember that managing emotions and impulsive behaviour takes practice and patience. Don't be too hard on yourself if you have setbacks and celebrate your successes when you are able to manage your emotions and impulses effectively.


10. What are some strategies for building on my strengths as a person with ADHD?

Building on your strengths as a person with ADHD can help you achieve success and overcome challenges in your personal and professional life. Here are some strategies for building on your strengths:


Identify your strengths: Take some time to reflect on your strengths and talents. Consider what activities you enjoy and excel at, and what traits others admire in you.


Focus on your passions: Pursue activities and interests that you are passionate about. This can help you stay motivated and engaged and build on your strengths.


Surround yourself with support: Build a network of support that includes friends, family, and professionals who understand and support your ADHD. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help you stay focused on your strengths.


Use positive self-talk: Use positive self-talk to help build your confidence and belief in your abilities. Recognize your accomplishments and celebrate your successes, no matter how small.


Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you regulate your emotions and stay focused on your strengths.


Set realistic goals: Set realistic goals that take into account your strengths and challenges. Break large goals down into smaller, more manageable steps to help you stay focused and motivated.


Seek out opportunities for growth: Seek out opportunities to learn new skills and develop your strengths. Consider taking classes or workshops, volunteering, or pursuing new challenges in your personal or professional life.


Remember that everyone with ADHD is unique, and building on your strengths can help you overcome challenges and find success. By focusing on your passions, building a support network, and seeking out opportunities for growth, you can build on your strengths and achieve your goals.

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