How Do ADHD Agents Work?

Reviewed on 9/22/2021

How do ADHD agents work?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) agents are medications prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms such as lack of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. ADHD medications work on the central nervous system to improve concentration and reduce impulsive and hyperactive behaviors.

ADHD medications work in different ways to improve ADHD symptoms. The main types of ADHD medications include:

  • Stimulants: Stimulants increase the levels of two neurohormones (catecholamines) dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Catecholamines regulate attention, thinking, pleasure and movement. Increased catecholamine levels enhance brain activity and improve alertness and concentration.
  • Alpha-2 agonists: Alpha-2 agonists stimulate protein molecules known as alpha-2 receptors in the central and sympathetic nervous system, which reduces the release of norepinephrine. Alpha-2 agonists decrease blood pressure, inhibit pain transmission, and have sedative effects which reduce impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.
  • SNRIs: Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work similar to stimulants, but increase only norepinephrine levels in the brain by inhibiting their reabsorption (reuptake).


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How are ADHD agents used?

ADHD agents are mostly taken orally as tablets, suspensions, or capsules. ADHD medications are available as skin patches and administered an epidural infusion to treat cancer pain that is not relieved by opioid analgesics.

In addition to treating ADHD, some of the ADHD medications are used to treat the following conditions:


What are side effects of ADHD agents?

Side effects of ADHD agents may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of some ADHD drugs?

Generic and brand names of ADHD drugs include:


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