ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can go undetected for many years in many cases. It only takes one breaking point before you find yourself looking for medication management services near you. Some research shows that at least 75% of adults do not know they have ADHD, while about 4.5% are not diagnosed
Meanwhile, the symptoms will begin to manifest and the tension will grow until you feel like you have lost control of your behavior. ADHD could impact your social skills, relationships, and well-being, and the condition has put many people’s education and careers in jeopardy. Often, it just hides behind common physiological issues like stress or co-exists with other medical conditions and psychological disorders.
On a positive note, people who get diagnosed quickly can seek psychiatric care. The first option often considered is medication. This makes a huge difference gradually. However, self-medication is unwise. To ensure you are taking the right medicines, or if you need medicine at all, you need guidance from a psychiatric care professional.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a medical condition characterized by the following symptoms:
- Inability to focus and manage day-to-day task
- Trouble listening
- Difficulty following conversations
- Inability to plan
- Difficulty coping with stress
- Mood swings
While the root causes of ADHD are still undetermined, a few factors are being looked at, such as:
- Genetics – the condition may be hereditary
- Environment – Research suggests that continuous exposure to lead may also cause the development of ADHD, among other environmental issues.
- Development – The condition may develop during the child’s formative years.
ADHD usually starts in childhod with symptoms that go all the way through adulthood. Often, you only realize its existence when you find yourself in emotional and behavioral crisis. That is, when your symptoms start to impair your daily life, behavior, and relationships. A student or a professional may eventually feel unable to cope with the demands of the daily tasks.
San Diego psychiatric care providers can attest to how strongly ADHD can impact your life. Our psychiatric care professionals have seen several patients come to them at their breaking point. When patients seek help, a good provider should offer various treatment options depending on their medical history, medication response, and personal preference.
What ADHD Treatment Options Are Available in San Diego
To address the specific needs of patients, Peak Wellness’ San Diego psychiatric care providers have various ADHD treatment options available— medications, supportive psychotherapy, and holistic health counseling.
Non-medication treatments mainly involve behavioral therapy to encourage beneficial lifestyle changes. With this method, a psychiatric care provider offers regular counseling and guidance to improve focus, organization, and other problem areas.
On the other hand, holistic treatment combines behavioral therapy, medication, and wellness activities. This ADHD treatment option makes our San Diego psychiatric care providers unique, as only a few clinics offer this program, if at all.
ADHD treatment with medication is the standard way of alleviating the symptoms. It can be effective, or it could miss the cause of the problem. So, how does medication work to treat ADHD?
Managing ADHD with Medication – a Traditional but Effective Approach
Finding the proper medication is critical to properly treating your ADHD. The right medicine will avoid as many negative side effects as possible while still treating the problems arising from ADHD. By providing the appropriate medical treatment, you can alleviate the symptoms and enjoy a normal and balanced life. Medications, combined with behavioral therapy or holistic treatment, work wonders provided that the prescribed medicines are adjusted based on the patient’s state of health and response.
Before recommending any medicines, our San Diego psychiatric care providers conduct a thorough assessment of the patient. This initial assessment helps us determine whether the symptoms that you are experiencing are truly from ADHD or may have another root cause. Some symptoms of ADHD can also be found in other disorders like depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or substance use disorder.
Once you are officially diagnosed with ADHD, we’ll talk about what environmental factors we can address and work on, alongside if any medications are good options for your case.
Two Types of ADHD Medications
There are two types of ADHD medications – stimulant and non-stimulant.
Hyperactivity is one of the indicators of ADHD, but it doesn’t always mean they are overstimulated. Not all ADHD patients are also hyperactive. Individuals who fall under the hyperactive-but-not-overstimulated category are often prescribed stimulants.
Stimulants increase the blood flow to the brain’s prefrontal cortex strengthening the pathway for better communication. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for organization, reasoning, and planning. The commonly used stimulants include:
Adderall helps increase dopamine levels in the brain, which leads to a calmer and more collected disposition. This is ideal for ADHD patients who have a short attention span and are unable to focus, plan, and organize. On average, a single dose of Adderall can last up to four hours, but its extended-release version, Adderall XR (amphetamine) can last up to 12 hours.
Widely prescribed to children and adults, Ritalin stimulates the central nervous system to improve focus and decrease hyperactivity, as well as impulsivity. It comes in three forms: short-acting tablet, sustained-release tablet (Ritalin SR), and extended-release capsule (Ritalin LA). The short-acting tablet can last up to three hours, the sustained-release up to eight hours, and the extended-release up to 10 hours.
Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
This medicine is used to treat ADHD in children and adults. It reduces primary ADHD symptoms, such as hyperactivity and impulsivity. It also helps improve focus. Just like the other medications, it works on the central nervous system and is taken once every day.
Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate)
Vyvanse is a newer medicine that lasts longer, up to 14 hours, compared to its extended-release counterparts (such as Ritalin and Adderall, which last up to 12 hours). Just as the other stimulants, Vyvanse helps improve focus and alleviate major ADHD symptoms. However, it is absorbed by the GI tract and takes longer to metabolize, making it a low-risk amphetamine drug.
NOTE: These drugs are FDA-approved but are federally controlled substances because of their potential to be abused. It is important to consult a professional psychiatric care provider who can guide you through these medications. These medications are not sold over-the-counter. Prescription by a doctor or professional mental health care specialist is needed to avoid the risk of misuse.
Non-stimulant medicines are generally referred to as SNRIs (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). They work by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, thus regulating a patient’s behavior.
An alternative option to treat common ADHD symptoms, Strattera is one of the first medicines originally studied for mood disorder treatment. It is often compared to SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) but it is a norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitor. Strattera is a third-line medication, with a low effectivity rate and takes a week or more to take effect. Most specialists recommend this to patients who are unable to take stimulants.
Wellbutrin (bupropion HCL)
Wellbutrin is an anti-depressant that helps treat depression symptoms like loss of appetite, insomnia, disinterest in social and physical activities or lethargy, lack of concentration, among others. Because it has not been established to be highly effective in treating ADHD on its own, it is often prescribed with stimulants like Adderall XR or Vyvanse.
Do These Medications Have Dangerous Side Effects?
Most medicines have side effects and ADHD medications are no exception. Psychiatric care providers should take these side effects into consideration when prescribing a specific drug to you, and discuss what potential side effects you may experience.
The side effects depend on the medication and dosage, and each patient will respond differently to certain medications. Through thorough initial assessments, our psychiatric care providers can determine whether a patient’s symptoms can be attributed to ADHD or any underlying condition. It also helps them identify any co-occurring conditions like depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or substance use disorder.
Oftentimes, we have seen side effects like loss of appetite, emotional changes, and inability to sleep. Specifically, these occur when taking Ritalin or Adderall.
However, because each person’s body responds differently, your side effects could vary greatly. Monitoring how a patient responds to the medication is crucial so that an ADHD specialist can make the necessary adjustments.
Is Self-Medication Safe for an ADHD Patient?
You may already be “self-medicating” your ADHD and not realize it. Often, we develop coping strategies or use other means to try and deal with symptoms of our conditions—especially in ADHD. Students and busy professionals tend to self-medicate their ADHD symptoms with coffee, energy drinks, or other stimulants thinking they just need that to focus.
Some individuals try to self-medicate in the more traditional sense, just getting a friend’s prescription or determining their own dosing of their current prescription if they feel it isn’t working. Some even go as far as taking other medications in tandem to offset the side effects they deal with because they aren’t on the right medication.
However, self-medication (in both senses) carries various health risks, including the risk of drug/stimulant abuse or misuse.
Ryan Thebo of Peak Wellness says, “So far, substance abuse among ADHD patients taking medication is not significant, as long as the intake is monitored. With guided medication, patients can avoid the harsh effects of these drugs. It’s a simple process that can make a huge difference.”
Safeguard Your Mental Health by Looking for Medication Management Services Near You for ADHD
If you have ADHD and want to improve your life, seek the help of a professional psychiatric care provider who will look after you and help manage your medication. Start looking for medication management services near you provided by people who have proven track record of giving comprehensive ADHD treatment programs. Only through this can you be sure that your mental health is in good hands.
We genuinely care for our patients and make sure you come out victorious in your battle against ADHD. The condition may not be curable, but treatable, and we have developed ADHD treatment programs that will suit your individual needs.
Our flag-bearer program, through the lens of holistic treatment, is designed to address ADHD in all its aspects. We combine medication, non-medication, and wellness routines while our care providers monitor your progress and make adjustments if needed.
Talk to our psychiatric care team and let’s work together so you can take back control of your life. Get started today!