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Adult Guide to ADD / ADHD Medication Types and Side Effects


Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (adult ADD) is a condition that can have a number of symptoms including lack of concentration, disorganization, mood swings, outbursts, and anxiety. Many adults don’t realize they have the condition because they believe that only children or teenagers can have ADD or ADHD. However, approximately 3 percent of adults in the United States have ADD and their symptoms can range from relatively mild to severely life-impacting.

Those with adult ADD often attribute their symptoms to anxiety or depression or tend to think they are just scatterbrained or have problems with focus or concentration. This is especially common in adults who were not diagnosed with ADD as a child. Though they have likely had the condition since the time they were young, many adults went through their school years undiagnosed and never realized their learning and socialization problems were due to this condition. Even those who were diagnosed in childhood may believe that they outgrew the condition and do not consider the possibility that they have carried the condition into their adult years.

Getting a diagnosis of adult ADD is important so that it can be properly treated by professionals who are knowledgeable about the condition. Though it can negatively impact an individual’s life, adult ADD is very treatable with therapy, counseling, medication, or a combination of treatments. Many of those with adult ADD benefit from talking with a professional and caring therapist or counselor in addition to taking stimulant, non-stimulant, and anti-depressant medication that helps them cope with their condition.

Medication Types for ADD/ADHD

Common Stimulant Medications

Short-acting stimulants must be taken every 3-6 hours and include drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Focalin, Methylin, and Ritalin. Long-acting stimulants include the drugs Adderall XR, Concerta, Evekeo, Ritalin LA, Vyvanse, and Focalin XR and must be taken every 6-8 hours. Stimulants are effective treatments in about 70 percent of adult ADD cases. They are especially effective for treating hyperactivity, increasing attention span and focus, and improving interpersonal interaction.

Side effects of both short-acting and long-acting stimulants can be a loss of appetite, weight loss, sleep problems, and irritability. There is also worry that stimulants that are amphetamines or methylphenidates could cause heart attacks or psychiatric problems and they also carry the risk of addiction.

Common Non-Stimulant Medications

Non-stimulants must be taken anywhere from every 6 hours to every 24 hours and include drugs like Catapres, Intuniv, Kapvay, and Strattera. These medications work by boosting the brain chemical called norepinephrine, which helps regulate mood, reduce hyperactivity, and increase attention span.

Side effects of these non-stimulant medications include fatigue, low blood pressure, dry mouth, dizziness, behavior problems, abdominal pain, headaches, and irritability. However, many doctors choose to prescribe non-stimulants over stimulants because they do not pose the same risk for addiction or abuse.


 In some adult ADD cases, anti-depressants can effectively treat symptoms. Commonly prescribed anti-depressants include Aventyl, Pamelor, and Wellbutrin. These types of medications can boost levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and can increase attention span and lessen hyperactivity. However, many doctors find that they do not do so as well as many stimulants and non-stimulant ADD medications.

Common side effects of anti-depressants used to treat ADD include upset stomach, dizziness, elevated heart rate, anxiety, and fatigue. There is also an increased risk of suicide in those age 18-24 who take these medications with the highest probability occurring in the first month or two of use.

How Do I Know If ADD Medication is Right For Me?

Side Effects of ADHD Drugs

The only way to know if medication is the right choice for treating your adult ADD is to visit an ADD clinic in San Francisco and see a qualified doctor. Only after your condition is diagnosed and your doctor learns more about your specific symptoms and your history of treatment can he or she develop a customized plan to treat your condition. In general, medication might be the right choice for you if:

You have already tried therapy or counseling

The non-medication route of counseling or therapy should always be the first step in treating adult ADD. However, if you have already been diagnosed with the condition and have been attending therapy or counseling for a number of months and your condition has not significantly improved, your doctor may decide to add medication to your treatment plan.

You do not have a history of drug abuse

Those individuals suffering from adult ADD who also have a history of drug abuse or addiction may not be good candidates for medical treatments. Many drugs used to treat adult ADD, especially those in the stimulant category, can be addictive and should not be used for those who have a history of addiction.

You are willing to try different types of medications

Medications for adult ADD are not a magic bullet and while some work wonders for specific individuals, others may find no benefits at all or will find the side effects to be too much to take. It may take some time and patience to figure out which drug is right for your condition and you may experience some negative side effects along the way.

How Can I Find the Right ADD/ADHD Clinic in San Francisco?

One of the most important choices you can make when it comes to treating your adult ADD is finding a clinic that can effectively treat your condition. When looking for an ADD/ADHD clinic in San Francisco, you should find one that has knowledgeable doctors on staff who have been treating adult ADD patients for a number of years. You should also look for a clinic that creates customized treatment plans that are developed in partnership with their patients. The right clinic will have multiple treatment options including counseling, therapy, and prescription medications.

If you have symptoms of ADD/ADHD and would like to speak to a professional to see if you have the condition or if you have already been diagnosed and would like to speak to a doctor about treatment options, please reach out to EZCare Clinic for more information.

Read more about adult ADD and ADHD

WebMD Guide to ADHD in Adults


A trusted guide to mental & emotional health

Wikipedia: Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Service Type
Provider Name
EzCare Medical Clinic,
1884 Market St,San Francisco,Ca-94102,
Telephone No.(415) 966-0848
San Francisco Bay Area
Adult Guide to ADD and ADHD Medication Types and Side Effects. Stimulants drugs side effects.


  • Neil Kent

    February 28, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    I was diagnosed with ADHD recently which was not even a surprise to me, it was actually a relief. I always had problems concentrating at school and then at work. I was also not interested in relationships really as i couldn’t really focus on the partner at the time. When i came to the ezcare clinic i asked the doctor to please not prescribe me any pills and she put me on a great adhd treatment plan for me and it has done wonders. I don’t know how i didn’t come here sooner. I am truly dealing with my disorder a lot better ezcare is THE adhd clinic.


  • Alicia Smith

    March 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    There are many ADHD medications to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but none of them have managed to tame my disorder. I am 22 years of age and I can assure you that the physicians at the ezcare walk-in clinic know how to treat disorders. The treatments the physicians put you on are specifically designed for your particular case and do wonders. I feel 90{c8203d9761d747080d5d8d8905d1aba42b1fc0bb0c6677c47be69113e1f0c095} recovery. It also helps with concentration but not much. Does make you feel good. This gave me my life back to some degree.


  • Phoebe Michaelson

    March 11, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I was diagnosed at 50 yrs old and for most of the past 20 years I have taken Dexedrine. For a year or so because I had a new doctor, I was prescribed Dexedrine and hated it. It made me jittery and my focus and ability to concentrate for periods of time was awful. I absolutely will never take it again! Subsequently, I saw a doctor at the EZCare clinic who gave me Adderall, and I am now a happy camper. I did not like my previous medications at all- I told the doctor that if this was the cure I would rather have the disease. Adderall is my go-to medication.


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