Pros and cons of ADHD medication in adults  

Medication is often one of the first suggested treatments to deal with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). While it is remarkably effective, it may come with some unpleasant side effects and it may take a long time to determine the best medication and dosage for you. If you’re considering asking your doctor to prescribe ADHD medication, take a glance through the benefits and disadvantages so you know what you’ll be dealing with and talk comprehensively with your therapist first, he or she can help you diagnose ADHD.

Types of ADHD medication

There are two main types of ADHD medication — stimulants (amphetamines) and non-stimulants (methylphenidates). The category of ADHD and the symptoms you’re experiencing may determine what type of medication your doctor prescribes you.


Stimulants are sometimes sold under a variety of brand names including Dexedrine, Eveko, and Adderall. They work by stimulating certain brain cells to make them produce more dopa, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals may help you ignore everyday distractions and focus better. 


Non-stimulants are sometimes sold under a variety of brand names including Ritalin, Quillivant, Focalin XR, and Concerta. They boost your norepinephrine levels and are usually prescribed when stimulants don’t work. Quillivant XR was found effective at reducing the symptoms of ADHD in children ages 6-12 years at all measured times (45 minutes; 2, 4, 8, 10, and 12 hours after taking) compared to a sugar syrup. The most common side effects of Quillivant XR are as follows: decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, stomach pain, dry mouth, vomiting, trouble sleeping, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, mood swings, agitation, irritability, dizziness, shaking, blurred vision, increased blood pressure. Discuss this medication with your doctor. Some of these medications may prevent violence.

Keep in mind that in order to get a prescription, you need to talk to a licensed psychiatrist first, a psychologist cannot prescribe medication.


The possible advantages of using stimulants and non-stimulants for ADHD are similar and include:

  • Increased motivation
  • Productivity spikes
  • Improved performance at work or school
  • Expansion of attention span
  • Lower hyperactivity levels
  • Reduced procrastination
  • Lower levels of afternoon drowsiness
  • Improvements in social life
  • Decreased impulsivity
  • Ability to focus for longer periods
  • Thoughts become more manageable

Many people find ADHD medication a very helpful way to cope with their symptoms. It can slow down racing thoughts, counteract hyperactivity, expand a short attention span, improve your ability to focus, and stop procrastination tendencies. However, there are some potential downsides to taking ADHD medication, too.


Frustratingly, there may be negative side effects when you take ADHD medication. Fortunately, you’ll probably not experience every negative side effect. Some of the side effects from ADHD medication are relatively mild, so much so that you may not consider them to be cons at all. Here are some of the negative side effects you may experience with this treatment.


  • Difficulties falling asleep
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Involuntary movements
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling jittery
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Faster heartbeat
  • High blood pressure


  • Fatigue
  • Difficulties falling asleep
  • Vomiting 
  • Weight loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings

One positive thing to remember is that even if you do experience side effects while taking ADHD medication, they may not last forever. The above symptoms are common in the first couple of weeks after you start taking medication, but they may stop or at least taper off when your body becomes used to it.

Finding the right ADHD medication

If you and your medical doctor decide that ADHD medication is the right choice for you, it’s important you find a type of treatment that suits you and gives you the least side effects possible. Your doctor will be able to help you with this, but it’s important to understand that it could take months to find the right balance.

Determining the best medication and the right dosage is part of the challenge when beginning ADHD medication. If your doctor prescribes the correct dosage for you, you’ll become less hyperactive and more focused. If they prescribe too low a dose, you may not experience any changes at all and if they prescribe too high a dose, your unwanted behaviors may increase.

It’s also worth noting that different people respond to the same dosage and medication in entirely different ways. What may work well for one person could have the opposite effect on another. There’ll be a lot of trial and error in determining the right ADHD medication for you, but it’s one you and your doctor will work closely together on. 

Is ADHD medication right for you?

The only people who can decide if ADHD medication is right for you are you and your doctor. While it may improve your condition and make your daily life easier and more enjoyable, it may also come with a number of side effects and may take months to put together an effective treatment plan. 

If you can push through the side effects and consistently attend doctor’s appointments until you’ve got a suitable treatment plan that gives you the results you’re hoping for, ADHD medication may be the best choice for you.

There are other alternatives to medications for ADHD that you can try if you want to experiment with different treatments. Essential oils, DBT psychotherapy, ADHD education, and developing skills to better manage your symptoms can all improve your quality of life. 

Talk to us today

If you’ve got ADHD, medication isn’t the only solution. There are plenty of other options to explore instead of medication or in conjunction with it. If you want to discuss different management techniques, we’re here for you. Make your first appointment today and one of our Cyti ADHD therapists will work with you to determine the best resolution. They’ll help you develop the skills you need to successfully manage your symptoms and get back on track. Medication works best in combination with the right therapy.

About the author: Shiva Amin

Shiva is a licensed clinical psychologist providing telehealth services in California. She mostly sees clients who are struggling with anxiety, depression, work stress, relationship issues, and adjustment issues. She uses an evidence based treatment approach such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy. Her goal is to provide each client a safe place to talk about their concerns, while exploring different perspectives and options in managing their difficulties.

Read more about Shiva here >>

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741