Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder affecting over 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This rather common, albeit complex mental disorder, can adversely affect a child's schooling as well as interpersonal relationships. The symptoms of ADHD vary from case to case and are difficult to recognize. Many of the symptoms of ADHD are within the range of normal experience for children. Almost all children are fidgety at some point, become distracted easily, and have trouble paying attention at times. The difference to note here is that a child with ADHD has these symptoms to such an extent that they can become a distraction at home or in the classroom. If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you are likely looking into which prescription medication is right for you. Here we will list fifteen of the most common medications used to treat ADHD symptoms, separated by their class.

Stimulants are by far the most common class of ADHD medications on the market. You may have also heard them called central nervous stimulants (CNS). Stimulants work to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain to improve concentration while decreasing symptoms of ADHD. Stimulants are often the first medications used for ADHD treatment. There are three types of stimulants: amphetamines, methylphenidate, and methamphetamine (Desoxyn).

Amphetamines are medications that include amphetamine, dextroamphetamine or lisdexamfetamine. They are generally available in immediate or extended release form. Brand names include Dextrostat, Vyvanse, Adderall, and Dexedrine.

Methylphenidates are drugs which block the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine into neurons, keeping them circulating in the brain. They are milder stimulants and many are available in immediate release as well as extended release forms. Brand names include Concerta, Ritalin, Quillivant, Daytrana, Metadate, and Focalin.

Methamphetamine, brand name Desoxyn, is related to ephedrine and amphetamine. It also has CNS stimulant activity, which can reduce appetite and raise blood pressure. In ADHD, its mechanism of action is as of yet unknown. These tablets are taken one to two times daily.

Non Stimulants
Non-stimulant drugs affect the brain differently than stimulants. While they do have an effect on neurotransmitters, they don’t increase dopamine levels. They may be used in cases where stimulants are unsafe or have failed to provide a reduction in symptoms. People who also wish to avoid the side effects of stimulant medications may also choose non-stimulant drugs. Non-stimulants are separated into many classes.

Atomoxetine, brand name Strattera, prolongs the action of norepinephrine in the brain. It is not a stimulant, and does not require tapering off to discontinue use. It is taken once a day, and is long acting.

Guanfacine, brand name Intuiv, is traditionally used to treat high blood pressure in adults. The brand name Intuiv may be used for ADHD treatment in children. It may help with memory and behavioral inhibition, and has shown to be successful at improving aggression and hyperactivity.

Clonidine, brand name Kapvay, is also a treatment for high blood pressure, has been used to treat ADHD. Clonidine has been successfully used to reduce hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and distractibility in ADHD patients. one common side effect is lightheadedness, due to the fact that it is a high blood pressure medication. The brand name Kapvay is the extended release form.

Antidepressants are not approved by the FDA to treat ADHD. Some patients with complex cases have been prescribed antidepressants along with other medications. Antidepressants themselves should not be considered a solution to ADHD

If you or your child have been diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to be well informed about the medications you are taking. Each comes with it's own side effects and interactions, and you should inform yourself of these. Before starting any medications, discuss the possibilities with your doctor. Possible drug interactions may limit your available medications, as well as undesired side effects. Using our list of ADHD treatment options is just one important step to finding the right medication for your situation.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.