How Does Adhd Medication Work?

Are you trying to understand how stimulants and other medications work for the treatment of Adhd? Are you also looking to know how these medications impact your brain? Well, you are at the right place.

Adhd medications usually work by increasing the serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Changes in these neurotransmitter levels make your central nervous system more active and help in reducing Adhd symptoms.

This detailed guide will help you profoundly understand how Adhd medication works. You will also learn about different types of Adhd medications and their impacts below. Continue reading as we dive deep into Adhd medications.

What Does Adhd Medication Do?

Adhd medications work differently depending on the type of Adhd you are suffering from. There are three types of Adhd: inattentive, hyperactive, and mixed. But in all of these types, the medications directly affect the brain.   

How Do Adhd Medications Affect Your Brain?

Adhd medications affect your brain by affecting neurotransmitters in your brain. The chemicals affected by these medications are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. The changes in these chemicals result in increased attention, decreased hyperactivity, and controlled impulsive behavior.

Adhd medications work differently for everybody. Some medicines might work for one person and may not work for the other. It may be due to your dosage or the type of medicine you are taking. Let’s check out some of the common medications for Adhd.  

Types Of Adhd Medication

Stimulants and non-stimulants are the common medications used for the treatment of Adhd. Sometimes doctors recommend the use of Antidepressants as well for treating Attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder.   


Stimulants are the most common medication used for the treatment of Adhd. There are two types of Stimulants, which are immediate-release and extended-release stimulants. Some of the common stimulants approved by the FDA are Adderall, Ritalin, Focalin, Desoxyn, Adhansia XR, and Quillivant XR.

Stimulants are controlled substances, which means they can be misused or cause other effects. That’s why you should be very careful with the use of stimulants and use them as recommended by the doctor.       


Non-stimulants are also used for the treatment of Adhd. Non-stimulants are not controlled substances and are more safe than stimulants. Non-stimulants effects slowly. The common reasons for non-stimulant use include,

  • Ineffectiveness of Stimulants
  • Using them alongside stimulants for better performance
  • You were feeling side effects from stimulants.   

Strattera and kapvay are some of the popular non-stimulants being used for the treatment of Adhd.  


Antidepressants are also used for the treatment of Adhd alongside stimulants. The FDA does not approve the use of antidepressants for the treatment of Adhd, but doctors sometimes recommend them.

These are especially considered beneficial for depression and anxiety patients. Some of the standard antidepressants being used for this purpose are Wellbutrin, Norpramin, and Pamelor.   

Adhd Medication And Their Effect

Stimulants, Non-stimulants, and antidepressants all work in different ways for the treatment of Adhd. Let’s understand how these medications work in detail. 

How Stimulants Work For Adhd?

Stimulants work in the treatment of Adhd by raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels. The rise in these chemicals helps in controlling impulsiveness and hyperactivity. You are eventually able to stay focused and pay attention.

Stimulants are the fastest way of treatment for Adhd. Immediate-release stimulants are effective for about 4 hours, while extended-release stimulants are effective for around 8 to 23 hours.   

How Non-Stimulants Work For Adhd?

Non-stimulants work similarly by affecting neurotransmitters. Non-stimulants raise norepinephrine and serotonin levels but are different from stimulants. Non-stimulants slowly affect as compared to stimulants. You may even see the results in 2 to 8 weeks.

These are also used as an add-on therapy, sometimes alongside stimulants for treating Adhd. Non-stimulants also work alone, but that depends upon the patient’s condition. Around 80 percent of Adhd patients are successfully treated by simulants.    

How Antidepressants Work For Adhd?

Antidepressants also work for the treatment of Adhd. These are among the off-label medications prescribed for the treatment of Adhd. These also work by increasing neurotransmitters. These are especially effective with people with these conditions;

  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty in learning
  • Behavioural problem 

Don’t take antidepressants by yourself to treat Adhd because these are often given to people with specific conditions. These can also cause dependence upon excessive usage, so use them as per the recommendations.

Final Words

Wrapping it up, Adhd medications primarily work by affecting our central nervous system. These medications directly increase neurotransmitters in the brain, which eventually helps in reducing Adhd symptoms. Effective treatment also includes finding the correct type of medication and dosage because some medicines might not work well for you at the start.

Remember, these medications are sensitive and can have side effects as well. So, please beware of the necessary precautions before their usage and use them after the doctor’s prescription. The stimulants are controlled substances, and you should be very careful with their usage. 

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