ADHD is a challenging condition, but medication can help manage symptoms such as:
- Avoiding tasks and procrastinating are two ways to avoid doing something.
- Time management
- Focus and distraction
There are two types of ADHD medications: stimulants and other non-stimulants. Before discussing the side effects, let us look at both.
Review of ADHD medication options
The most common treatment for ADHD is stimulants. These medications increase the bioavailability and levels of certain neurotransmitters. They include noradrenaline (also known as noradrenaline), which is epinephrine’s precursor.
Stimulants are commonly used in medication.
- Methylphenidate-based ADHD medications, such as Concerta, Focalin, and Ritalin
- Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse are ADHD medications that contain amphetamines.
Nonstimulants are likely to be your doctor’s first choice for those who suffer from anxiety or heart problems. Non-stimulants may also be prescribed for those who have experienced side effects, did not experience any change on stimulants, and are pregnant.
Nonstimulants are commonly used to treat ADHD.
- Alpha-2 agonists like Kapvay and Guanfacine
- Strattera, Wellbutrin, and other antidepressants
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. It is merely a selection of the most common ADHD treatments. This article contains more information about the various options for ADHD medication.
Common ADHD medication side effects
There is always a risk of side effects when people take ADHD medication. Each person responds differently to medication. Finding the proper medication for you may take time. Before exploring different treatment options, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
ADHD medications, especially stimulants, are known to cause sleep issues.3 ADHDers already have a higher risk of sleeping problems, so that medication could exacerbate this. People with ADHD are prone to sleep problems.
- Sleeping problems
- Sleeping problems
- Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
- Revenge bedtime procrastination
- After waking, you may experience severe fatigue or brain fog
It is often recommended that clinicians screen for sleep disorders such as Sleep Disordered Breathing or Restless Leg Syndrome. Your medical practitioner will tailor your ADHD treatment to the screening results if you can access one. If you do not have access to screening, your doctor may adjust your dosage after monitoring your side effects.
Stimulants may also cause disordered eating. Stimulant medications are used to help people lose weight for a long time. Physicians may advise patients to eat before taking stimulant medications.
If you have a persistent problem with your appetite, document any weight changes and consult your doctor ASAP. Document any weight fluctuations and consult your doctor immediately if the problem persists.
Changes in mood
You may experience mood swings if you take too many stimulants. You may experience symptoms like:
- Emotional dysregulation; intense emotions
- Sedation (acting “spaced-out” or “zoned-out”)
These symptoms can be reduced by lowering your dose. Some people may benefit from switching brands or moving away from stimulants. Studies have shown that some people, especially adults, benefit from a combination treatment regimen.
The rebound effect
When your ADHD medication wears out, you may notice that your symptoms return in full force and are sometimes worse than before. The “Rebound Effect” is a phenomenon that occurs when the medication leaves the brain too fast.
In order to combat this, doctors sometimes prescribe a lower dose of the drug (or Immediate release/IR) that is administered before the “rebound.” It can reduce the severity of the rebound and make the transition “smoother.” Sometimes, the dose is changed, or a different drug is used.
This does not occur with all stimulants. Lisdexamfetamine, also known as Vyvanse and Elvanse, takes an extra step before stimulating your Central Nervous System. This makes it feel “smoother” than drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.
Tics (and body-focused repetitive behaviors, BFRBs).
Tics are repeated, involuntary, and sudden movements of any body part. Similar to BFRBs, BFRBs can be conscious or used to cope with stress, anxiety, or under stimulation.
The following are examples of physical tics:
- Facial grimacing
- Rapid eye blinking
- Jerking the arms
The following vocal tics are included:
The following behaviors are body-focused repetitive behaviors:
- Trichotillomania is the pulling of hair.
- Onychophagia (nail-biting)
- Excoriation Disorder
There is much debate about whether stimulants cause or worsen tics or BFRBs. Some studies have found that ADHDers who have tics do not experience a worsening of their tic symptoms when taking a low dose of stimulants. 8 Many people report new or worsened BFRB habits after starting stimulant medications. This depends on the individual, their comorbid condition, and other factors.
Other Side Effects
These side effects are not life-threatening and common.
- Mild to moderate nausea
- Mild diarrhea
- Dry Mouth
- Blood pressure increases by a small amount
- Mild tachycardia
- Mild dizziness, especially when standing
- Increased sweating (especially at night).
Although the side effects listed above are not necessarily harmful, monitoring them and informing your doctor if any of them become problematic is essential.
Rare but dangerous side effects
Some people can experience life-threatening side effects. If you notice any of these side effects, immediately contact a doctor or emergency services.
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Blood pressure increases from moderate to large
- Severe tachycardia is a heart rate that is highly elevated.
- Weight loss that is extreme and unintentional
- Dizziness or fainting can be severe