Medications for ADD in Adults


If you have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), you have likely heard of medications such as Ritalin showing success for children and adolescents with ADD. You may wonder if there is a medication that can be prescribed for adults. The answer to this is yes, because the same medications that work well for young people also work well for adults with ADD.

How ADD Medications Work

  • Psychostimulants are the medication of choice for those with ADD. These medications work by blocking the reuptake of the two neurotransmitters thought to be responsible for ADD, dopamine and norepinephrine.


  • The two psychostimulants prescribed by doctors are methylphenidate (MPH) and amphetamines (AMP). Neither of these medicines is necessarily better than the other, since each individual responds differently to each medication.

MPH (Ritalin)

  • MPH is often prescribed as the brand name drug Ritalin. Many adults with ADD state that MPH works well for them, though others state it caused them to feel more anxious and on edge. See Resources for a link to a study comparing MPH with AMP.

AMP (Adderall)

  • AMP is often prescribed as the brand name drug Adderall. Many adults with ADD who take AMP state that it eases their symptoms, even more so than MPH.

Side Effects of MPH and AMP

  • Side effects for both MPH and AMP are generally mild and vary from person to person. They may include loss of appetite, weight loss, anxiety and insomnia.

How to Start Medication for ADD

  • Your doctor will generally start you on a low dose of the prescribed medication and raise it until you show a good response and tolerance for a certain level.

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