ADHD drugs can help improve symptoms by enhancing and balancing neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry signals between neurons in your brain and body. There are several different types of medications used to treat ADHD, including:
- stimulants, such as an amphetamine or Adderall (which help you to focus and ignore distractions)
- nonstimulants, such as atomoxetine (Strattera) or bupropion (Wellbutrin), can be used if the side effects from stimulants are too much to handle or if other medical conditions prevent use of stimulants
While these drugs can improve concentration, they can also cause some serious potential side effects. Side effects include:
Not many studies have looked at the long-term effects of these medications. But some research has been done, and it raises red flags. An Australian study published in 2010 found no significant improvement in behavior and attention problems in children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old who took medications for their ADHD. Their self-perception and social functioning didn’t improve either.
Instead, the medicated group tended to have higher levels of diastolic blood pressure. They also had slightly lower self-esteem than the nonmedicated group and performed below age level. The authors of the study emphasized that the sample size and statistical differences were too small to draw conclusions.