The most common prescription treatment for ADHD is stimulant drugs. For symptoms like impulsivity, short attention span, and hyperactivity, they are the best way of managing ADHD symptoms.
The drugs are highly effective. In about 80% of adults and 70-80% of children, there is improvement in interrupting, fidgeting, and other hyperactive behaviors. Many people experience increased task completion and improved personal relationships shortly after starting the drug treatment.
Improvements are linked to continued drug usage. There is usually no long term permanent improvement without continued use of medication. The drugs are non addictive.
Some of the commonly used stimulants to treat ADHD are Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Metadata, Methylin, Ritalin, and Vyvanse.
The stimulants work by regulating impulsive behavior and improving attention span by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. These include epinephrine, dopamine and norepinephrine which impact neurotransmitters. The stimulant increases the dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine which allow more messages to successfully cross the synapse and deliver its message. Without the additional chemicals, the message is reabsorbed into the neuron and the message doesn’t get out.
Additionally, MRIs show increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, specific subcortical regions, and the cerebellum when people are taking stimulants for ADD. These are the centers of the brain which control executive functioning.
Stimulants should not be taken by people who have glaucoma, anxiety, stress or general nervousness, tics or a history of Tourette’s Syndrome. Some side effects might include headache, increased blood pressure and stomach pain. Sometimes decreased appetite, weight and sleeplessness occur.
Children’s growth patterns should be watched. Occasionally growth will slow, but when medication is stopped children assume their full height.
Source: WebMD, ADDabout