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Will I Take Stimulants for Adult ADHD?

Are stimulants the only way to treat adult ADHD? What if I can't or don't want to take a stimulant?
 
 

 
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Answer

There are several treatment options for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. Stimulants are some of the most commonly used and most effective treatments, but it is important to work with your healthcare provider to find the treatment that is best for you.
 
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for those with ADHD, either with or without medication, can be helpful. In this type of therapy, a mental health professional works with individuals or groups to develop techniques to change problem behaviors, cope with stressful situations, gain social skills, and work on other problem areas.
 
If it is determined that medication is appropriate, a stimulant is usually prescribed first, unless there is good reason to avoid them (such as a heart condition). Stimulants tend to be quite effective in both children and adults and have been shown to improve attention while decreasing distractibility and impulsive behavior. It is not clear exactly how stimulants produce these effects. They are thought to work by increasing the level of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine.
 
Nonstimulant medications are also available for ADHD. It is not entirely clear how they work for this condition. Approved nonstimulant ADHD medications include:
 

Of these three nonstimulants, only one (Strattera) is approved for adult use. The others can be used "off-label" (in an unapproved fashion) for adult ADHD treatment.
 
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