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ADHD Medications for Adults

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Overview of Adult ADHD

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that is usually diagnosed during childhood. According to The American Psychiatric Association, 5% of children in the U.S. have ADHD, although studies have reported rates as high as 11%. Childhood ADHD persists into adulthood ADHD for about 50% of individuals.

Adults with ADHD may have symptoms of restlessness, inattention, and impulsive behavior. Impairment in executive function, as well as social, emotional and vocational wellbeing is also common. Adults with ADHD often have difficulty with time management and prioritizing, completing, and focusing on tasks.

According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationwide household survey of 18 to 44 year-olds, 4.4% of adults in the U.S. have ADHD. Surveys conducted by the National Institutes of Health report a prevalence of 3 to 5%, with comparable rates between men and women.

It's been noted that all adults with ADHD had ADHD as children, but not diagnosed. ADHD tends to be underdiagnosed in adults; fewer than 20% of adults with ADHD have been diagnosed or treated. This is due to lack of awareness as well as the presence of certain disorders such as mood and anxiety in adults with ADHD. When ADHD symptoms are mistaken for these disorders, adults are more likely to be treated for the disorders rather than for ADHD.

Treatment options for ADHD include medications (stimulant and non-stimulant) and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

ADHD medications are drugs used to treat some of the characteristic behaviors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including inattention, hyperactivity, and poor impulse control.

Drugs used to treat ADHD target chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. Most of the ADHD medications work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Another type of ADHD drug increases the level of norepinephrine only.

ADHD drug treatment should begin only after a specific diagnosis of ADHD has been made. A clinical diagnosis requires that symptoms have persisted for at least six months. In addition, diagnosis of adult ADHD per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) requires that some of the ADHD symptoms were present during childhood (before 12 years of age). There is no blood test or radiological scan that can diagnose ADHD.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/24/2014



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