Can ADD/ADHD medications calm a person down?

Ms. Julie A. Fast
Mental Health
I developed ADD later in life. It’s now very severe. I always assumed it was a symptom of my bipolar depression, but even though my depression is better, the ADD is as strong as ever. I’m often too scattered to work. I can’t keep my mind on a project and find myself looking at blogs and watching TV instead of working. It’s like my head is a swivel chair. It’s very upsetting.
A note: ADHD means attention deficit hyperactive disorder. This is a childhood diagnosis and is rarely used for adults. Think of a child in a schoolroom who ‘bounces off the walls’ and can’t sit down and focus. This is ADHD. Adults rarely have the hyperactive part of the illness, which is why the diagnosis is ADD. I will use the term ADD to represent both diagnoses.
ADD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin are amphetamines also known as speed. It’s quite amazing that speed is able to calm a person down. The reason is that the brain of a person with ADD responds to the speed very differently than a brain without ADD. There is more technical information on this site as to why this happens.
Stories of abuse such as a college student taking Ritalin to stay up all night to study, keep many people from using the drugs for actual ADD. I know that I was hesitant at first. Not only because they can cause mania in bipolar disorder, but because I was told they’re very addictive. I was actually scared of them!
Here is what I’ve learned: 
  1. ADD meds are rarely addictive to those with the illness as the meds calm a person down instead of getting us high.
  2. Not everyone has an addictive personality and many can control the drugs very easily. Stimulants are controlled substances and trustworthy health care professionals monitor their use with blood tests. 
  3. ADD often causes more damage in a person’s life as it affects a person’s ability to study and work. This is certainly the case for me!
  4. Many believe that ADD is over diagnosed and other treatment methods should be used first. Of course this is true! Always try something natural first. For example, my book Get it Done When You’re Depressed helps a person treat ADD symptoms naturally. But if the ADD remains destructive, stimulants are a reasonable choice.
If you have ADD and have not been able to treat it naturally, think of meds. They can change your life.
You can find more of my answers to ADD questions on the site under my name. 

Continue Learning about ADD/ADHD Treatment

ADD/ADHD Treatment

ADD/ADHD Treatment

Because the symptoms of ADD/ADHD vary, treatment varies. Treatment may include medication, but lifestyle changes such as proper diet and outdoor exercise can help reduce ADD symptoms. Behavioral cognitive therapy can help those wi...

th ADD/ADHD improve focus and minimize distractions. Without proper treatment, children and adults with ADD and ADHD can develop drug and alcohol problems, and untreated children with ADD/ADHD have a higher likelihood of not finishing high school. However, with proper treatment, many patients are able to organize their lives, hold jobs and care for themselves.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.