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Challenging Myths About ADHD Medication

Managing ADHD can feel like wading through a jungle of information, especially when it comes to medication. There are several different ways people treat ADHD, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
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Challenging Myths About ADHD Medication

25/04/2024
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Managing ADHD can feel like wading through a jungle of information, especially when it comes to medication. There are several different ways people treat ADHD, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. 

Misconceptions about medication can, however, prevent sound decisions. Questions such as how safe it is, whether it works, and what side effects to watch out for are common. 

We will examine medication misconceptions and present the facts to dispel them.

ADHD Treatments

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There are plenty of ways to tackle ADHD effectively, from therapy and coaching to stimulant and non-stimulant medication and even lifestyle changes like eating better, staying active, and practising mindfulness. 

While they may not cure ADHD outright, these treatments can significantly ease symptoms and improve daily life. A major study backed by the NIMH in the late 1990s highlighted the power of combining medication with therapy, showing it’s far more effective than relying on just one treatment alone.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/Coaching

Combining ADHD-specific cognitive behavioural therapy and coaching can help you discover and work towards specific goals.

You will learn and develop tools and strategies to improve your focus and awareness of the passage of time. By cultivating a close and collaborative partnership with your ADHD coach, you will gradually learn how to incorporate more structure, focus, and purpose into your life. 

Find out more about coaching HERE

Exercise

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Exercise is one of the best ways to manage ADHD symptoms. Exercise helps to increase the release of dopamine, which is underactive in the ADHD brain. Based on recent studies, it is clear that exercise helps to increase attention span and your ability to focus.

Find out how to introduce exercise, even if you aren’t a gym goer.

Mindfulness

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Mindfulness can help improve self-regulation, which is often difficult for people with ADHD. Regular mindfulness meditation has been shown to assist adults with ADHD in increasing their ability to be focused on the moment and remarkably slow down the busy brain that is part of ADHD. You can practise it in all of your daily activities. 

At the ADHD Centre, we have an online Essential Mindfulness Course, which consists of six mindfulness practices to strengthen different executive functioning areas. Find more about it HERE

ADHD Medication

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Around 80% of adults with ADHD will significantly benefit from taking medication alone. The benefits are usually quick and quite considerable. Some individuals describe medication treatment as the difference between night and day. 

However, you should understand that medication does not cure ADHD but rather treats the underlying symptoms in the short term, making it easier to focus and get on with tasks or activities that you might have previously struggled with.

Medications need to be taken regularly and safely to be effective. Before starting ADHD medications, some baseline tests will usually need to be carried out to ensure that they are safe to prescribe. These may include a cardiovascular examination and some basic blood tests. Monitoring blood pressure, weight and pulse while taking medications is important. 

There are two main types of ADHD medication: stimulant and non-stimulant. For more information about ADHD medication, click HERE

Medication Misconceptions

There are several common misconceptions about ADHD medication that can contribute to misunderstandings and stigma surrounding its use. Addressing these myths can help promote a better understanding of ADHD and reduce the stigma, ultimately allowing those with ADHD to access the support and treatment they need. 

Safety 

Myth: It poses a significant risk of addiction or substance abuse. 

Fact: While it’s true that some ADHD medications, particularly some forms of stimulant medication, have the potential for abuse when used as prescribed under medical supervision, the risk is significantly minimised.

Studies have shown that properly prescribed ADHD medications, when taken as directed, actually reduce the risk of substance abuse in individuals with ADHD. This is because these medications help manage symptoms such as impulsivity and hyperactivity, which are often associated with engaging in risky behaviours, including substance abuse. Moreover, many individuals with ADHD find that medication helps them better focus and succeed in various aspects of their lives, including academic and professional pursuits as well as being more attentive and improving their personal and social relationships.

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Effectiveness

Myth: It works the same for everyone with ADHD and instantly solves all symptoms.

Fact: ADHD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, and medication effects can vary greatly from person to person. While ADHD medications are often highly effective in managing symptoms such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention for many individuals, finding the right medication and dosage may require some trial and error. 

Additionally, medication effectiveness can be influenced by factors such as individual brain chemistry, co-existing conditions, and lifestyle factors. Those with ADHD need to work closely with their healthcare provider to find the most suitable medication and dosage regimen tailored to their needs. Additionally, medication is often most effective when combined with other strategies such as behavioural therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and accommodations in educational or work settings.

  • Side Effects Myth: Side effects are always severe or intolerable. Fact: While ADHD medications can have side effects. Typical side effects like a headache or decreased appetite are often mild and manageable, especially when closely monitored by a qualified doctor. Not everyone experiences side effects, and those who do may find that they diminish over time as the body adjusts to the medication. There are various types of ADHD medications available, and if one medication causes undesirable side effects, alternatives can be explored. It’s crucial when considering ADHD medication to discuss potential side effects with your doctor.  With proper monitoring and support, many find that the benefits of ADHD medication outweigh any potential side effects. 

    Other Myths 

    Myth: ADHD medication turns children into zombies or robots. 

    Fact: ADHD medication does not fundamentally change a person’s personality. When properly prescribed and monitored, these medications help manage symptoms of ADHD, such as impulsivity and hyperactivity, allowing children to function more effectively without altering their core personality traits. 

    Myth: ADHD medication is a quick fix and eliminates the need for other interventions or support. 

    Fact: While ADHD medication can be an essential part of managing symptoms, it is usually most effective when combined with other interventions, as mentioned.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and comprehensive treatment often involves a multi-modal approach. 

    Myth: ADHD medication is only for children, and adults with ADHD should outgrow the need for medication. 

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Fact: ADHD is a lifelong condition, and medication can be beneficial for both children and adults. Many adults with ADHD find that medication helps them manage symptoms and improve their daily functioning. 

Myth: ADHD medication works immediately and produces instant results.

Fact: While some people experience symptom relief shortly after taking ADHD medication, it often takes time to find the right medication and dosage that works best for each person. Additionally, the full benefits of medication may not be apparent immediately, and adjustments may be necessary over time.

The ADHD Centre

At The ADHD Centre, we recommend an individual and specific evidence-based combined treatment approach for our clients. This may include medication, behavioural therapy, coaching, mindfulness practices, regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet. 

While attempting to choose the best ADHD treatment program for you, we have discovered the importance of differentiating between the primary symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity as well as other associated secondary issues like social difficulties, disruptive behaviour, academic struggles, low mood and low self-esteem.  We work with our clients to identify individual requirements and expectations around treatment to help us provide a treatment package that suits your needs.

ADHD support

Our team of experienced clinicians is on hand to provide expert insight, advice, support, and guidance on ADHD, helping you manage and embrace some of the challenges.

For more information on how we can help you:

Call 0800 061 4276

Email enquiries@adhdcentre.co.uk

Follow us on social media. You can find us on Facebook or Instagram

Book an ADHD assessment for an adult or child HERE

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The ADHD Centre

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We are a team of experienced Consultant Psychiatrists, Psychologists and ADHD Behavioural Coaches.

We have been diagnosing and treating people with ADHD since 2009.

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