Stopping Medications When You Have Adult ADHD

The Types of ADHD Medications for Adults

There are essentially 3 types of medications prescribed for adults with ADHD:

  • Stimulant
  • Non-stimulant
  • Off-label medications

Stimulants – e.g., amphetamine / dextroamphetamine – increase the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine that are available to your brain which helps to increase your focus. These are the most commonly prescribed medications for adult ADHD.

Non-stimulant medications – e.g., atomoxetine – may be less effective than stimulants, but they also seem to be less addictive. They can be a good option if you can’t take stimulants.

Off-label medications – e.g., Wellbutrin – are not approved by the FDA for use as an ADHD treatment, but some doctors may prescribe these antidepressants as treatment for adults with ADHD that’s complicated by other mental disorders.

Why Adults Stop Taking ADHD Medications

There are a number of reasons why adults with ADHD may stop taking their prescribed medications. These include:

  • Side effects – Stimulants can decrease appetite. They also can lead to headaches and sleeplessness. Antidepressants may cause irritability, anxiety, insomnia, or mood changes.
  • Lack of education – If an individual with ADHD doesn’t understand the condition and what the medications do to help with symptoms, they may not be motivated to continue taking them.
  • Improper dosing – It can take time to get the right medication combination and dosing figured out. Everyone is different in terms of their response to various medications. This can result in side effects or ineffectiveness, both of which can result in someone stopping their medicaitons.
  • ADHD itself – The executive function issues that stem from ADHD may interfere with adhering to a regular medication regime.
  • Clinical obstacles – Finding knowledgeable and supportive clinicians and pharmacists with a good understanding of ADHD and the difficulties it can cause with adherence to medication regimes can be difficult.
  • Insurance coverage – Insurance coverage for medications and other treatment components can also be problem depending on the individual’s health plan.

What to Expect If You Stop Taking Your ADHD Meds

How you feel if you stop your ADHD medication will depend on a number of factors – e.g., your specific medication, the dose, and your body chemistry. it is possible you may feel a little more fatigue during the daytime. But, by way of compensation, you might sleep more soundly at night. Your appetite could also change – you may suddenly feel ravenously hungry. Shifts in energy and focus typically tend to even out after a few days. But, it might take a few weeks for your appetite to go back to normal.

Where you are more likely to see an impact is on your executive functioning skills. You may notice problems with focus and attention. You may be able to compensate by using non-medication strategies. The key is to self-monitor to see if symptoms are worsening.

Before going off your medications, it is important to talk with your doctor and go over the reasons why you want to stop and discuss potential impacts and alternatives.

What Happened When I Stopped Taking My Medication



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