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ADHD Medication

Trying to navigate the journey with ADHD Medication can be a daunting one, so we have put some information together for you, all in one place.

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Questions about ADHD medication come up all the time. People are unsure if it is the right thing to do, especially for their children. We know there are worries about the side affects and we can often feel shame around it. Here at Internal Connections we create space for open conversations, we believe in having all the facts and then making whatever decision is best for you. This post has been created to help you get a better understand of your options and know what to expect in advance. Please know that we are not medical professionals, and we advise that you liaise with your psychiatrist and or GP at all times.

Many ADHDers we know choose not to go down the medication route.

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If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor may have prescribed one of the five types of medications that are approved for the treatment of this condition:

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)

  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse/Tyvense/Elvanse)

  • Dexamfetamine (Adderall, Amfexa)

  • Atomoxetine (Strattera)

  • Guanfacine (Estulic, Intuniv, Tenex)

These medications work by increasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help people with ADHD focus better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practice new skills.

Some medications must be taken daily, while others can only be taken on school days. Treatment interruptions are occasionally advised to determine whether the medicine is still required.

A person prescribed one of these medications will likely be given it in small doses that gradually increase. This is called titration. You will need to see a doctor frequently to confirm that the treatment is working correctly and look for symptoms of any side effects or difficulties. It is critical to notify your doctor of any side effects and consult with them if you need to discontinue or adjust your medication.

Your doctor will discuss the length of time you should receive therapy. However, in many circumstances, treatment is continued for as long as it is beneficial.

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(Ritalin, Concerta)

Methylphenidate is the most commonly prescribed ADHD medication. It belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants, which raise brain activity, particularly in areas controlling attention and behaviour.

It works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain and is effective for adults, teenagers, and children over five.

The medication is available in two forms: immediate-release tablets (small dosages used 2 to 3 times per day) and modified-release pills (taken once a day in the morning, with the dose released throughout the day).

The most common side effects of methylphenidate include

  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate

  • Appetite loss (which may result in weight loss/gain)

  • Headaches when sleeping

  • Insomnia

  • Feeling aggressive, irritable, unhappy, nervous, or tense





While these medications can be very effective in helping people manage the symptoms of ADHD, it is important to remember that they are not a cure. Understanding the potential side effects and risks associated with each type of medication is also important before deciding which one is best for you. When taking any medication, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions and to make sure that any potential side effects are monitored closely. With proper guidance, the medications listed above can be effective in helping people with ADHD manage their symptoms and lead a successful life.

What I always say is that if you were a diabetic, you would take insulin, and if you had a broken leg, you would put it in a cast. Treating your ADHD is no different, as long as it is the right treatment aligned with your values, and has positive impact on your day to day life.

I would like to add in that many ADHDer's have reported that most of the side affects they experienced reduced over time.

Positive accounts from ADHDer's on Meds:

  • It was like putting on a pair of glasses and being able to see. Every morning I put on my glasses so that I can see things clearly and avoid headaches. Therefore every morning, I take my ADHD meds so that I have more control of my brain.

  • The first time I took ADHD meds, I grieved for the life I could of had. The ability to better focus in school, hours of study actually paying off with better exam results and how that could have shaped by life after leaving school.

  • It's like a quiet calm comes over my mind. The static noise quiets so I can hear my own thoughts, one at a time. Then I feel focused, motivation kicks in and I am able to activate without all of the painful EXTRA thinking. The extra thinking is exhausting.

  • My ADHD meds lower my anxiety. They allow me to become myself more. The intensity of my focus increases as well as how long I can focus for.

  • Taking my meds is not just about focusing but also filtering. They help slow down my brain so I know what I need to do, they help me organize my thoughts versus being overwhelmed by all the ideas that race through my brain.

Negative accounts from ADHDer's on Meds:

  • It takes time, thats the unfortunate thing. To find the right dose and brand for you, to wait for the side effects to settle, and we often don't have the patience for this. But if you stick to it, you will notice the impact.

  • Finding a GP to prescribe for you can be extremely difficult. Controlled substance and all that.

  • Another expense to add to the list, but its covered on the drugs payment scheme.

Accounts from ADHDer's not on Meds:

  • I received my diagnosis from a psychologist. Only psychiatrists are permitted to prescribe medication. I don't have the finances to get reassessed.

  • My ADHD traits play a vital role in relation to my career. I have been worried about medication taking away the spark that I have, and so I chose not to medicate.

  • I personally don't believe in taking medication.

  • I worry about putting my child on medication and the negative impact it could have long term. Especially with the curbing of appetite and other side effects. We are not sure what other damage will cause them elsewhere.

  • I got diagnosed late and have lived my life without meds. I have health anxiety so it takes me some resistance to commit to taking meds. I take supplements to make sure I am at least baseline and not in a deficient state.

  • Not being on meds for ADHD is frustrating because I wonder what my life would be like if I could take them. I question if I could be more, do more and achieve more.

Do What is Right For You

From my own personal experience, having trialled being on and off mediation post diagnosis, the cost for me not being medicated was much greater than being on them. Sure, with my new understanding, and living according to my uniquely wired brain, I was living successfully. But non medicated me still struggled with focus and emotional dysregulation, and most importantly managing stressful situations. I am 8 years down the line, and currently have no side effects. However, as science is always advancing, perhaps we will uncover more about its impact.

Do you have any more questions about ADHD medication? Leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer them! Or maybe you would like to share your experience with others!

Just incase anyone was wondering, we do not have any shares in pharma and do not receive any bursaraies if ADHD meds sales increase.


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