What are Common Treatment Options for Adult ADHD?

I was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as an adult. What are some of the common treatment options and what should I do if the effectiveness of my medication wanes over time?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or sometimes called ADD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting about 5-9 percent of children and 3-5 percent of adults.

Common symptoms include inattention (not being able to focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the situation), and impulsivity (acting without thinking things through). Other less common symptoms may include hyperfocus, difficulty sleeping, time blindness, or impulsive spending.

What are common treatment options?

Many people equate ADHD treatment with medication, but it’s important to emphasize that these medications don’t work for everyone. While medication for ADHD often improves attention and concentration, it often does very little to help symptoms of disorganization, forgetfulness, and procrastination—the very issues that cause the most problems for many adults with ADHD.

For this reason, many health care providers suggest a combination of ADHD medication combined with other treatments to address emotional and behavioral issues and learning new skills to help you regulate and express your emotions in positive ways. For some adults, talk therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy can also help with managing other mental health disorders that may appear with ADHD, such as anxiety or depression.

Some of the most common behavioural strategies for managing symptoms include:

  • Rewarding positive behaviours
  • Writing down clear instructions to help with prioritizing information
  • Establishing healthy physical activity, sleep, and eating habits
  • Developing routines regarding school, work, and home activities
  • Creating strong relationships to develop social skills and friendships

ADHD medication

As for medication, treatment options have come a long way in the last 25 years, and many prescription drugs including Vyvanse and Strattera are now available as generic options. Most ADHD medications are time released and only require one dose per day. Since the core symptoms of ADHD are the same regardless of age, it’s not uncommon for children and adults to take similar medications, although the dosage may vary.

When starting a new prescription drug to treat ADHD, you may need to try different medications and dosages. These medications are not a one-size-fits-all, and so you will want to work with your health care provider to find what is best for you.

Your medication needs may change, and that’s normal 

You may find that, as you grow older and if your behavioural and environmental situation changes, you may need to adjust your medication or dosage. As with any long-term medication use, it’s important that you remain under the care of a health care provider so they can evaluate your physical and mental health to ensure you are achieving the benefit of these medications without excessive side effects. 

Trying to self-treat ADHD symptoms with herbal supplements or other substances such as alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, or caffeinated drinks can cause health risks and are not recommended. 

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How ASEBP Supports You

ASEBP’s Extended Health Care benefits cover a range of ADHD medications. If you feel like you have symptoms of ADHD, your health care provider can assist with obtaining an assessment and diagnosis.

Our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides members with four hours of counselling, at no cost to you. You can also access Tranquility by Inkblot, an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program to help you reduce and manage your ADHD symptoms. If you have ASEBP health benefits, there is no cost to access this online CBT program.

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