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Understanding Medication and ADHD in Adults

Unfortunately, there is still a slight stigma that exists regarding the use of medication for treating mental illness. Some of this may come from circumstances like a distrust of the pharmaceutical industry, a misunderstanding of efficacy results, or a sole belief in neuropathic principles. While everyone is free to believe what they want, when it comes to medication and mental illness, there have been too many positive results for medication to be dismissed as an effective treatment option. This is particularly true with medication and untreated ADHD in adults. 

ADHD Does Not Just Affect Adolescents

There are many people who still believe that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) only affects adolescents. Now, while it is true that ADHD is more prominent among adolescent populations, it also affects a significant number of adults.

According to the Journal of Global Health, “By adjusting for the global demographic structure in 2020, the prevalence of persistent adult ADHD was 2.58% and that of symptomatic adult ADHD was 6.76%, translating to 139.84 million and 366.33 million affected adults in 2020 globally.” Also, institutions like the Attention-Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) estimate that over 11 million adults in the U.S. currently struggle with ADHD.

What Exactly Is Adult ADHD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “ADHD is a developmental disorder associated with an ongoing pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. The symptoms of ADHD can interfere significantly with an individual’s daily activities and relationships.” Now, while NIMH is quick to point out that most ADHD symptoms begin during childhood, they also often carry over into adulthood as well as have the ability to solely manifest in adulthood.

According to NIMH, the key to determining adult ADHD is whether or not “at least five persistent symptoms of inattention and/or five persistent symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity” exist. These symptoms include:

Another aspect of adult ADHD is how it manifests in certain life settings. For example, is it present in professional or academic settings? Also, does it interfere with an individual’s ability to function comfortably in society or at home? If these interferences exist, it may be time to seek professional help. 

Understanding Medication and ADHD

What Are the Most Effective ADHD Medications for Adults?

There are generally two primary ways by which adult ADHD is currently treated: Therapy and medication. Preferable to many professionals is the use of both medication and therapy at the same time.

The most common medications used to treat adult ADHD are stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin. Again, many people stigmatize stimulants as only being used in illicit settings. While it is true that some stimulants used to treat ADHD can be abused, when used as prescribed they are very effective and respected treatment tools. 

Another medication that may be utilized to treat adult ADHD is antidepressants, though they have not been fully authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do so. These medications often help with the anxiety and depression often associated with adult ADHD. Regardless of the use of stimulants, antidepressants, or both, these medications are often much more effective when used in tandem with other forms of treatment.

Understanding Medication and ADHD in a Comprehensive Recovery Plan

The Signs of Adult ADHD

Simply taking medication for adult ADHD is not necessarily going to be effective. In fact, it can even be dangerous. It is important that any medication taken for adult ADHD be closely monitored by a professional to ensure no adverse effects take place, and that the right dosage is utilized.

Moreover, working closely with mental health professionals can do much more than simply regulate medication intake. For example, working with therapists can help individuals address any deep emotional issues that are often associated with ADHD behaviors. Also, participating in group therapy can help individuals relate to others also struggling with adult ADHD. 

This not only provides hope for eventual recovery but can lead to relationships that can be utilized when times get tough. Many people say “Recovery is a ‘we’ program, not a ‘me’ program.” While the saying is a little cheesy, working with others has indeed been shown to greatly aid against a mental health and/or addiction relapse.