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Parents/Carers Guide to ADHD Medication

ADHD explained in 3 Minutes

ADHD can be treated using medication or non-medical therapy, but a combination of both is often best.
Non-medical therapies include:

  • Nutrition and diet
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Planning and organising
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy and stress reduction strategies

There are two main types of medication licensed for the treatment of ADHD:

  • Stimulants work by increasing the amount of a natural chemical in the brain, called dopamine. Increasing the amount of dopamine in the parts of the brain responsible for self-control and attention, stimulates them to work better. This then helps to focus your child’s attention and improve concentration.
    • These are the most commonly used form of medication and come in short, and long acting formulations. Medications include methylphenidate, lisdexamphetamine and dexamphetamine.
    • Physical checks for patients on stimulants will need to be undertaken every 3 months. These will include height, weight and blood pressure.
  • Non-stimulants work in a different way. These often take more time to work, but have a longer duration of effect. Medications include atomoxetine and guanfacine.

Although these medications are not a cure for ADHD, they may help people with ADHD to concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practice new skills.

This information has been written specifically about the use of these medicines in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer. Please read this carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again

Starting dose

During the titration phase, doses are gradually increased until there is no further improvement in ADHD (that is, behaviour change, improvements in education and/or relationships) and side effects are tolerable. The dose needs to remain the same for 3 months before we will share the prescribing with your GP.