How do ADHD medications affect the brain?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Medications treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by changing the way our neurotransmitters work in the brain. Neurotransmitters are special substances in our brains that allow brain cells to communicate with each other. The neurotransmitters that ADHD medications alter include norepinephrine and dopamine. As a result, these medications modify the areas of the brain that control our attention span and activity levels.

However, each medication affects people in different ways. Doctors are not able to predict exactly how each person will respond to a specific ADHD medication. Sometimes a doctor will need to switch a person's medication or adjust the dose to find the most effective way to treat one's ADHD symptoms.

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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.