There is no doubt that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD meds work to reduce the symptoms that the disorder presents. This includes inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. What is debatable is which meds are best in terms of their effectiveness, side effects, and risks associated with taking them, if any.
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What ADHD Medications Can and Can’t Do?
A good place to start is to understand what medication for ADHD can do and what they can’t do. One thing it can do is boost the ability to concentrate. It can also enhance the ability and motivation to control impulses, make plans and take action to see them through by completing tasks consistently.
What ADHD medication cannot do is permanently resolve the symptoms caused by the disorder. Even though the medication may work to ease them, other symptoms may persist. This includes forgetting things, being socially awkward, or struggling with emotional problems. Adults may continue to have problems with close, personal relationships, being disorganized, and/or being easily distracted.
It is also important to note that ADHD medication relieves symptoms while it is being taken but if stopped, they revert. Also important to note is that the medication works better for some than it does for others. Some see dramatic positive effects while others get only modest improvement. To reap maximum benefits, medication should be personalized and a patient should be monitored consistently while on it.
Treating ADHD with Stimulants
The most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD is stimulants. They have been used for a long time compared to other types of drugs because research has consistently proven their effectiveness.
The way stimulants work is that they increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls feelings such as pleasure, motivation, movement, and focus. ADHD stimulant meds boost these feelings and reduce the tendency to behave in ways that impulsive and hyperactive. The most widely prescribed meds are Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
Dexedrine for ADHD
Generically, known as dextroamphetamine sulfate, Dexedrine is an oral medication that works to treat ADHD in children, teens, and adults. It is classified by FDA as a federally controlled substance because patients can become dependent on it and it can be abused. It is has been proven effective in controlling two main symptoms of ADHD namely impulsivity and hyperactivity.
The Side Effects of Dexedrine
Most people who use Dexedrine do not experience side effects. However, it can cause the side effects of:
- Sleep Interruption
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Reduced Appetite
- Upset Stomach
- Weight Loss
- Dry Mouth
Occasionally, Dexedrine can cause more serious side effects namely seizures, disturbed eyesight, and compromised growth in children.
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Other Effects of Dexedrine
Dexedrine has been found to have other effects. One is that it can interfere with a teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery and perform other mechanical tasks. If experienced, these side effects wear off over time. In others, the drug can cause or escalate problems related to the heart and blood pressure in patients who have a family history of either.
This side effect can also be seen in patients who have structural cardiac problems and other major problems with the heart. They can experience increased blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. This is because Dexedrine is an amphetamine which is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. Amphetamines can spike blood pressure and heart rate which presents with symptoms like labored breathing, chest pain, or fainting. Medical attention should be sought immediately if any of these symptoms are experienced while a patient is on Dexedrine.
Dexedrine and Family History of Mental Health
It is important to disclose to your doctor if there is a family history of mental health problems. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that patients are evaluated for bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, tics, depression, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Patients with these disorders or with a family history of them can have the problem exacerbated by stimulants. In children and teenagers, it can trigger manic or psychotic behavior. Side effects such as hallucinations, impulsiveness, and paranoia should be reported to the health care provider immediately.
Dexedrine and Circulation Impairment
Other possible side effects of Dexedrine are numbness, painful toes or fingers, and Raynaud’s Phenomenon which causes blood flow to the fingers to decrease. Such problems, a change in skin color, and sensitivity to temperature after taking Dexedrine should be reported without delay.
Dexedrine and Abuse of Substances
Being an amphetamine, Dexedrine can potentially be abused and can be addictive. This is especially true for those who do not have ADHD. The Drug Enforcement Agency has it in a grouping for drugs with high potential for abuse along with Ritalin, Adderal, and cocaine. When prescribed, Dexedrine should be taken exactly as directed to minimize the potential for abuse.
Who Shouldn’t Take Dexedrine?
Dexedrine is not to be taken by patients who:
- Are allergic to amphetamines or other types of stimulant medication. It should also not be taken by those who are allergic to any of the ingredients found in Dexedrine.
- Have blood pressure problems.
- Have a heart condition or hardened arteries.
- Have a history of abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Have high anxiety, tension, or agitation.
- Have consumed a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) in the last 14 days.
- Have glaucoma.
In patients who have mental health problems or a family that has a history of them, Dexedrine should be taken with caution. The same is true for patients who have thyroid problems, circulation problems, seizures, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Caution must be exercised if the drug is to be taken by a woman who is trying or who plans to try and conceive. Studies conducted on animals have shown that it can pose a potential risk to the unborn baby. It should be avoided by nursing mothers because it is passed through breast milk.
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Interactions Associated with Dexedrine
A patient and their doctor should discuss other prescription medications that are being used if any. This is because Dexedrine can have a dangerous, potentially fatal interaction with other drugs such as antidepressants and medication used to treat seizures, blood pressure, and stomach acid. Even over-the-counter medication should be discussed. This includes medication for colds and allergies which have decongestants that can spike or reduce the level of medication in the blood to a dangerous level.
A health care provider should also be advised about any supplements a patient may be taken such as vitamins and herbal supplements. Before taking any laboratory tests or undergoing surgery, patients should also let their health care provider that they are on Dexedrine.
Dexedrine vs Adderall
While both drugs are stimulants that are used to treat ADHD, there are some differences. Dexedrine is a brand medication with the generic dextroamphetamine. It is an amphetamine that stimulates the production of norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex of the brain. This eases feelings of fatigue, increases alertness, motor activity, and a general feeling of wellbeing. Dexedrine is available in form of fast-release tablets, extended-release capsules, and spansules.
Adderall, on the other hand, contains different amphetamines salts. Its active ingredient is Dexedrine and other amphetamines. It works in the same way that Dexedrine does. However, it comes in a much broader range of strengths. Another difference is that Dexedrine’s standard prescription is mg once or twice a day titrated up to 3M per day while that of Adderall is mg once or twice daily titrated up to 3M a day. Both medications are available in brand and generic varieties.
Dexedrine vs Ritalin
Like Dexedrine, Ritalin stimulates the central nervous system which increases the levels of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine which enhances feel-good feelings and brain activity. One difference is that Dexedrine is made of dextroamphetamine while Ritalin is made of methylphenidate. Another difference is that Dexedrine can be used by children aged three years and above while Ritalin is used by children aged six years and above.
It varies from patient to patient but the typical starting dose for Ritalin is 5mg twice daily for those using the immediate-release formula. The average dose for adults is 20 to 30mg. A doctor may increase the dose until the desired effect is achieved. A doctor may also switch a patient’s medication for immediate-release Ritalin to extended-release tablets which would give a patient the same effect but with fewer doses per day. Another difference between Ritalin and Dexedrine is that the former can be worn in form of a Daytrana patch on the skin. The patch can be worn for a maximum of nine hours.
Evaluating ADHD Drug Performance
You may wonder if the medication that you or your loved one has been prescribed for ADHD is working to ease your symptoms. Your doctor will give you regular evaluation appointments. They will check for any adverse side effects. Of particular interest in children will be weight loss which may be an indicator of compromised growth and development.
If any side effects are noted, your doctor may change your dosage or your prescription. They may also put you on a drug holiday during which you will stop using the drug completely or use less of it. This will typically be at a time when there will be no interruptions to your usual schedule such as during school holidays for kids. For adults, it may be when they can take time off work or school. Drug holidays are necessary for everyone who uses stimulant drugs to evaluate how effective it is and if a patient still needs it.
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Professional, Expert, and Gentle Care for ADHD at Mango Clinic
Located in Miami and also available virtually through telehealth, Mango Clinic is dedicated to providing medical care for both pediatric and adult ADHD patients. You can book an appointment online by clicking the banner below for an evaluation or contact us today and allow us to help you with symptoms caused by ADHD.