What types of meds are used to treat ADHD?
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Are you having trouble focusing, making decisions or thinking your actions through? You might be dealing with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). When you are searching for a solution to help manage your symptoms, finding one that treats you as a whole person is important. Mental health is complicated. The surface challenges are often connected to deeper underlying core processes. In addition to other evidence-based treatments, ADHD medications can help address your mental health symptoms.

What is ADHD?

First things first, learning more about ADHD itself can be helpful. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how your brain functions. People with ADHD often have difficulties paying attention and sitting still. This can make it hard to manage things like classes and homework. You might even find hanging out with your friends challenging. Luckily, you do not have to manage ADHD alone. Process-based therapy (PBT) is one great approach designed to help clients achieve their mental health improvement goals. By integrating the strengths of other kinds of therapy like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), PBT is built to offer the specialized care you need right now and later down the road.

Another popular treatment method for ADHD is medication. Certain medications can be effective for symptom management. There are no meds that offer a “cure,” but some can make a big difference in improving concentration and self-control. There are three main types of ADHD medication: stimulants, nonstimulants and antidepressants.

Types of ADHD medications


  • Stimulants — Stimulant medications are the most common type used to address ADHD symptoms. This can seem confusing, as you might think a good ADHD treatment would make you less stimulated—not more stimulated. Despite their name, stimulants can actually help calm down hyperactivity. Common stimulants include methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall). These ADHD treatments work by boosting the amount of certain chemicals in the brain. People with ADHD often have difficulty managing incoming stimuli. Too many sources of stimulation can make it feel like everything is happening too fast to be processed. You might feel like your brain is an accelerating car with no brakes. By increasing chemicals that help with attention and focus, stimulant medications can help your brain’s “brakes” work better.

  • Nonstimulants — Stimulants are not the only option for ADHD medication. For people who do not respond well to stimulants or experience negative side effects, nonstimulants can be a nice alternative. Nonstimulant treatments can include selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Don’t worry about the complicated name — SNRIs can be an effective alternative to stimulant medications. These medications are designed to balance hormone levels that play a role in focusing. By working on a different set of brain chemicals, SNRIs can avoid the potential downsides of stimulants.

  • Antidepressants — Antidepressant meds might not seem like an obvious choice for ADHD. After all, depression and ADHD tend to have largely different sets of symptoms. However, certain types of antidepressants can be useful in addressing ADHD. These are often prescribed when a person’s ADHD is accompanied by mental health symptoms indicating anxiety or depression. It is important to remember that not all antidepressants can help manage ADHD. Your mental health treatment provider should carefully consider your specific situation before writing prescriptions.

Why meds should not be the only treatment for ADHD

Medication can play a crucial role in managing ADHD symptoms. However, they are not always a good long-term solution. ADHD is a complex disorder. Making real improvement in your mental health may go beyond just taking a pill. A comprehensive approach can be essential to success. This is why PBT can make a positive impact. Meds have their limitations. In addition to negative side effects, your body may build up a tolerance; this can reduce the effectiveness of your treatment. Further, medication has a tough time addressing underlying issues. This is where PBT comes in. PBT is like a toolbox: Inside there are a wide range of techniques and strategies to help you manage your symptoms and improve your mental health. By tailoring their approach to each client, licensed clinical therapists who practice PBT are equipped to help meet your specific needs. 

Lightfully can help you treat ADHD with process-based therapy

In a world that’s buzzing with social media and activity, managing ADHD can be a bit of a challenge. Medications can be a valuable tool, but they tend to focus on one part of a bigger picture. At Lightfully, we apply a more comprehensive approach to address the multifaceted challenges of life. We are dedicated to treating clients with clinical expertise and deep compassion. You have the power to find a treatment plan that works for you. Our licensed clinical experts work to ensure that each client is valued as their authentic self on each step of their mental health journey.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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