Medications Used in the Treatment of ADHD

Treatment of ADHD with medication is most effective for reducing the core symptoms of ADHD—inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several kinds of medications for ADHD that include stimulants (methylphenidate-based and amphetamine-based products) and nonstimulants including atomoxetine and antihypertensives (alpha-2 adrenergic agonists). These medications are listed in the chart below which shows:

  • the medications grouped by class
  • the brand name and generic name of each medication
  • the duration and available dosage strengths

When ADHD coexists with other conditions such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, other kinds of medications may be prescribed, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics. The American Academy of Pediatrics Drug Lookup site provides a list of medications for other conditions. The NRC’s Ask the Expert Webinar, The Choice is in the Details – Medication Options for ADHD, presents a discussion of the differences between medications, how they work, their benefits and potential side effects.

Your healthcare provider can help you select the right medication and dosage for your unique needs.  Working with your provider to monitor your treatment is important in managing the side effects that you may experience. Research shows that combining medication with behavioral interventions such as parent education training, behavioral therapy and school accommodations will provide the greatest likelihood of success in treating ADHD.


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