Adult ADHD Medication Benefits and Drawbacks

September 30, 2013 Elizabeth Prager

As I believe I've said in the past, ADHD medications have really improved the quality of my life. I can still remember the first weeks of taking them in college and reading my first book cover to cover - and it wasn't even a great book! I remember how the thoughts in my head had a different flow and how much longer I was able to stay on task. I also remember some bad parts. ADHD medications can have an amazing effect on your life, but they're not all magic.

Benefit number one is that if an ADHD medication works for you, it works immediately. There's no need to wonder if six weeks in maybe the drug will start working. It either works, or it doesn't work. It either works and gives you super bad side effects, or it works and doesn't. ADHD meds are a dream for us ADHD'ers, because there is no need to wait or be patient. Really, they were made for us.

Compared with anti-depressants and many other psychological drugs, these are quick acting. The HUGE drawback? They're quick fading, too. Not all of the stimulants have a bad drop off when it wears off, but some do. The ones that do - you know when the drug is leaving your system and fatigue and grumpiness can take over in short order. All of the calm and patience you were able to achieve when your meds were working is done in the blink of an eye and the rest of the day (if you don't take another dose) is still you with ADHD. With depression medications, if you find the right one and it works well, you're not going to be depressed most of the time from when you wake up until you go to sleep. That's amazing. I would almost give up the instant effect of stimulants to be able to not feel antsy and hyper at bedtime ...

Another drawback: appetite change. The first six months or so that I was on Concerta I had to force myself to eat. Every food sounded horrible and I was never in the mood to eat. Yes, I lost weight and that's often a good thing, but I definitely didn't lose it in a healthy manner. Even years after I started taking Concerta, I still notice that I only get really hungry once it wears off just before dinner time. It can be really frustrating to feel out of touch with the actual physiological needs of my body.

In sum, ADHD stimulant medication can make a difference, but they, like everything else, are not perfect. Do you all have any lasting effects? Any major gripes with your meds?

APA Reference
Prager, E. (2013, September 30). Adult ADHD Medication Benefits and Drawbacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Elizabeth Prager

July, 4 2018 at 8:58 pm

Each time I've been told a prescriber' that I will know immediately whether meds will work' ... I've been told My attitude & behavior is being 'Non Complient' w/psychiatrist's opinion & advisement.... yet the same subscriber would speak in condescending tone and had discounted & discredited my views, feedback, opinions & confessions of being forced try new drug of the month ?

May, 30 2018 at 10:31 am

I found it very interesting when you talked about knowing if an adult ADHD drug works for you, you will know it immediately. My younger brother, who is an adult, has ADHD and a few other issues, so we're currently trying to find him a better medication so he can function at the level he wants to. Thank you for the information about how these medications because they either work with bad side effects or work without them. I hope we find one without the bad side effects for him.

Joshua Stovall
October, 7 2013 at 5:13 pm

It would help you all to know i am 28 now, and am a father now of a beautiful 4 month old girl. With out my meds i find it hard to do anything, except dode over my daughter. My wife has add and has not been on meds at any point in her life. I find that i am sometimes jealous and admiring of her for being able to cope with it, and still function. The meds are amazing, but i do feel like i am two different people. One on the meds, and one who is not.

Joshua Stovall
October, 7 2013 at 4:35 pm

I have been taking adderall and other dextroampheamines since i was 6 years old when i was diagnosed. A few years ago i was forced off of my medications due to lack of insurance and according to the state i made too much money, my employer insurance did not cover the adderall either. So for 2 years I went without my meds, amd i can tell you it was really hard to do anything. I couldnt think straight, couldnt concentrait. I was not able to do much of anything, except video games. If i wasnt playing games, i was working, and that was hard to stay on task at work. For two years it was like i was another person, and i didnt like the person i had become. I was able to get to get back on medication and i could think again. It took a lot to fix what i had done with my friends and family durring that time. It is nice to have something that makes me want to do things. Its also a curse because as soon as the meds wear off i become lethargic and hungry. Now it has gotten to the point where i have become immune to anything but higher doeses of the meds. It is scary because i cant do anything without, and become another person that my wife does not like. I am comming off of meds now, so even my attention now is waining. So i will end this now. Saying that the medication is great, but you dont know how reliant you become on the med tl get through the day.

Elizabeth Prager
October, 6 2013 at 4:28 am

Thanks for commenting, Joanna! I always find myself annoyed by how much exercise helps - not b/c it stinks that it helps, but b/c a lack of it really does make a difference. It's so helpful to exercise, but so hard to stay motivated to do so! :) :)

October, 5 2013 at 10:56 am

This article really resonantes with me! I wasn't diagnosed until my early 20s and had flunked out of college (it's unfortunate women are often overlooked as having ADHD during childhood and adolescence). My doctor put me on Adderall and although the medication was effective, the side effects were unbearable. I switched to Ritalin which was so-so but it was Dexedrine that really worked with me. Although I find the medication really helpful, a lack of sleep and exercise definitely exacerbates symptoms. I guess I need that natural dopamine production to keep me on track. Thank you for this article and your blog posts.

Jenny Hetei
October, 5 2013 at 8:31 am

I have dealt with depression all my life. When I was growing up there were no names for all that we have now. I played sports and stayed in shape, which helped some with the effects of depression. As a young adult at the age of 20 I was so depressed I didn't want to function at all. I was still in shape and had a really nice life but I didn't know how to be happy. There was just no joy. I saw a psychiatrist and started on Imipramine. (not sure of that spelling) It worked well but had a few side effects. Then Prozac came out. That was awesome. When that lost effectiveness I moved on to Zoloft. That worked for many years. Then Zoloft lost its effectiveness for me and I started Effexor. That was great too....for awhile. With life's ups and downs I seemed to manage most of the time. Then in late 2008 my world came crashing down with the crumbling of my marriage. It turned out (after three years of really weird stuff) my soon to be ex was diagnosed with late onset of Schizophrenia. (that is a whole different story) Anyway, through the financial and emotional stress of this I developed panic attacks and depression was out of control. Adding Adivan helped with the panic attacks. I had to up my Effexor to the highest dose of 225mg. When that was not effective any longer I added Abilify. That was terrible. I just looked at the medication and gained 10 pounds. (ok not literally) FINALLY I am taking 150mg of Effexor, 150mg of Wellebutrin and 30mg of Vyvance. The Vyvance is for adult ADD and also helps boost the anti depression medications. I am beginning to feel like I am going to be human again. I have two beautiful kids and I want to be a good Mom to them. I want to have the joy I am suppose to have when raising such blessings. I want to be happy. I think I am on the right path now. My best advice to all of you that share similar issues is to keep trying, count on close friends and family, pray, and don't give up!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Prager
October, 6 2013 at 10:28 am

Great advice, Jenny! Glad to hear things are on the up and up for you!

September, 30 2013 at 6:12 am

I take Adderrall for Adult ADD. It has helped me tremendously. I can stay focused on the job and at home. I have the energy in the morning to motivate me to do something. Without Adderrall I was lifeless and couldn't remain focused for any amount of time. I drank alot of caffeine then. The caffeine provided a small amount of focus but it was only short lived and left me feeling irritated and even more challenging to stay focused. I have taken more than what is prescribed on occasion when I didn't sleep well and having a hard time focusing. The added medication really didn't do much other than provide the ability to focus on the tasks ahead of me. My life would really be miserable without Adderrall. My life was miserable before Adderrall and I'll never go back to the way it was.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Prager
October, 4 2013 at 7:10 am

Thanks for commenting, Doug! Glad to hear that medication has helped and that trying coffee worked for a bit, too! Always nice to know what other people use to compensate for being unmedicated :)

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