Overview of Biological Treatments
Biological treatments alter the way your brain functions. Biological changes can occur as a result of many different factors, including medications and therapies.
Stimulant Medications to Treat Adult ADHD
Psychostimulants continue to be first-line medications for the treatment of ADHD in adults. The most commonly used stimulants are regulated as Schedule II drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration because they have a potential for abuse when not used as prescribed by a medical professional.
In the past, non — stimulant medications were generally considered second-line medications and were limited to people who could not tolerate stimulant medications, did not respond to them, or were not able to use them because of substance abuse issues or coexisting psychiatric conditions.
All that changed in 2003, when the nonstimulant drug Strattera arrived on the market. Strattera is the only nonstimulant medication to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ADHD and the first medication of any kind specifically approved for the treatment of ADHD in adults. Because Strat-tera doesn't have the abuse potential of stimulants, and because it isn't a controlled Schedule II drug, it can be prescribed with refills and over the phone. However, it may not be as effective as stimulant mediation.
Other Types of Medication
If neither stimulant drugs nor Strattera work for you, your physician may prescribe antidepressants. Research shows that SSRIs have a positive effect on the core symptoms of ADHD. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) may also help with core symptoms such as anxiety and depression. If neither of these is helpful, your doctor may prescribe bupropion, also known as Wellbutrin (for depression) or Zyban (for smoking cessation). Bupropion is an antidepressant and anti-smoking medication that also seems to elevate mood and relieve depression.
Other drugs that may be prescribed on an “off-label” basis to help with adult ADHD symptoms include blood pressure medications, antihypertensive agents, and wake-promoting agents used to control narcolepsy. For a comprehensive look at medications used to treat adult ADHD, including the pros, cons, and side effects associated with them, see Chapter 9.