Referre Ltd
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The medications we use

There are five types of medication licensed for the treatment of ADHD:

  • Methylphenidate;
  • Dexamfetamine;
  • Lisdexamfetamine;
  • Atomoxetine; and
  • Guanfacine.

These medications are not a permanent cure for ADHD but may help someone who has the condition concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practise new skills.

Medication for ADHD

After a decision is made for you to start taking medication the first step will be a trial to see if it helps. The trial is generally using an immediate release preparation, moving to a slow release preparation as soon as possible. You will be asked to monitor yourself during the trial period.

We will issue the first prescription(s). When you are established on a dose of medication that works for you, we will ask your GP to take on prescribing under a shared care arrangement. After that, we will monitor you at 3 to 6 monthly intervals and if ever your GP asks us to. Every year we will give you a monitored trial period of a week when you will be off medication. This gives us a chance to review with you your ongoing needs.

 

Medication used in treating ADHD

Methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is the most commonly used medication for ADHD. It belongs to a group of medicines called stimulants that work by increasing activity in the brain, particularly in areas that play a part in controlling attention and behaviour. It can be used by teenagers and children with ADHD over the age of six. Although Methylphenidate isn't licensed for use in adults, it may be taken under close supervision from your GP and Specialist.

Common side effects of Methylphenidate include:

  • a small increase in blood pressure and heart rate;
  • loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • headaches;
  • stomach aches; and
  • mood swings.

Methylphenidate comes in immediate release and modified release preparations. The immediate release is generally used to establish whether the drug will help and to get the dose right. It is very short acting. If there is no response in a month the drug should be terminated. The modified release compounds are prescribed after the dose is established and allow for taking the medication only once a day.

 

Dexamphetamine

Dexamfetamine is also a stimulant medication, which works in a similar way to Methylphenidate by stimulating areas of the brain that play a part in controlling attention and behaviour. It can be used by teenagers and children with ADHD over the age of three. Although it is not licensed for use in adults, it may be taken under close supervision by a Specialist and GP.

Dexamfetamine is usually taken as a tablet once or twice a day, although an oral solution is also available. Common side effects include decreased appetite; mood swings; agitation and aggression; dizziness; headaches; diarrhoea; nausea and vomiting.

 

Lisdexamfetamine

Lisdexamfetamine is a similar medication to Dexamfetamine and works in the same way. It can be used by children with ADHD over the age of six if treatment with Methylphenidate hasn't helped. You may continue to take it into adulthood if your doctor thinks you're benefitting from treatment. Lisdexamfetamine comes in capsule form, which is usually taken once a day. Common side effects include decreased appetite, which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain; aggression; drowsiness; dizziness; headaches; diarrhoea; nausea and vomiting.

 

Atomoxetine

Atomoxetine works differently to other ADHD medications. It is known as a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which means it increases the amount of a chemical in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical passes messages between brain cells, and increasing the amount can aid concentration and help control impulses.

Atomoxetine, which comes in capsule form that is usually taken once or twice a day, can be used by teenagers and children over the age of six. It is also licensed for use in adults if symptoms of ADHD are confirmed. Common side effects include:

  • a small increase in blood pressure and heart rate;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • stomach aches;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • dizziness;
  • headaches; and
  • irritability.

Atomoxetine has also been linked to some more serious side effects that it is important to look out for, including suicidal thoughts and liver damage. If someone taking it begins to complain of feeling suicidal stopping the medication must be considered.

 

Guanfacine

Guanfacine acts on part of the brain to improve attention and it also reduces blood pressure. It is used for ADHD in teenagers and children if other medicines are unsuitable or ineffective. 

Guanfacine is usually taken as a tablet once a day, in the morning or evening. Common side effects include:

  • tiredness or fatigue;
  • headaches;
  • abdominal pain; and
  • dry mouth.
Download Referre's Medication for ADHD leaflet

Referre - Medication for ADHD

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Referre Limited
PO Box 3034
Devizes
SN10 4WR

t: 07881 296811
e: lucy@referre.co.uk