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Medications for ADHD treatment

There are numerous medications that can be used in the treatment of ADHD. The type used depends on the severity, allergies, reactions, and other comorbidities such as Autism.

Below are the main medications approved for the use in the treatment of ADHD. The treatment used for your young person will be very individualised so comparison to another young person or situation should not be made.


For ADHD, about 2 in 3 (70%) of people’s symptoms improve with methylphenidate.

Methylphenidate is a stimulant drug. At smaller doses, it can be stopped each weekend if that is what you have agreed with your prescriber.

Methylphenidate can be supplied in various preparations depending on their manufacturer. Some you might recognise are:

Quick Acting

Make sure your child takes it at as directed but make sure the last dose isn’t later than teatime

  • Methylphenidate
  • Medikinet

Modified Release (one a day)

Once daily in the morning is best, to make sure it doesn’t make it harder for your child to fall asleep

  • Concerta XL Tablets
  • Equasym XL Capsules
  • Medikinet XL Capsules
  • Xaggitin XL Tablets
  • Xenidate XL Tablets


Lisdexamfetamine is usually the second stage of medication for ADHD and will be used if Methylphenidate proves ineffective following a six week trial.

Lisdexamfetamine is a stimulant drug and should be in the morning, and not in the afternoon or later as it can affect the ability to sleep.

This comes in one a day capsules.

Prolonged Release

  • Elvanse Capsules


For ADHD, about 1 in 2 (50%) of children’s symptoms improve with atomoxetine over 3 months. Carrying on for six months can improve that to about 65% (2 in 3 people). Atomoxetine is not a stimulant and not addictive.

If the label says to take it once a day this is usually best in the morning. If the label says twice a day then this is usually best in the morning and then late afternoon or early evening.

Atomoxetine can be supplied in the following forms:

  • Atomoxetine Capsules
  • ATOMAID Capsules
  • Strattera® Capsules
  • Strattera® Oral Solution


Guanfacine is used to help the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children and adolescents aged between 6 and 17 years of age .It is usually used with other ADHD medicines such as methylphenidate or lisdexamfetamine

Guanfacine boosts parts of the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. This strengthens memory and reduces the risk of being distracted or impulsive. For ADHD, about 2 in 3 (60%) of younger people’s symptoms improve with guanfacine. It is not a stimulant like methylphenidate or lisdexamfetamine.

Guanfacine is supplied as a prolonged-release tablet:

  • Intuniv®


Melatonin is mainly used to help treat insomnia i.e. problems getting to sleep if caused by ADHD, Autistic Spectrum, Smith-Magenis syndrome and learning disabilities.

If your child has ADHD or Autism, his/her sleep pattern can become a bit irregular e.g. not going to sleep at night, sometimes sleeping during the day and awake at night. Sometimes melatonin can help get sleep back in line with day and night. Melatonin doesn’t just send the person to sleep. It helps boost melatonin levels, which is the brain’s usual trigger to go to sleep.

Melatonin usually starts to have an effect in about an hour. The effect lasts about 4-8 hours or so.

Melatonin can be supplied in the following forms:

Modified Release Tablets

  • Melatonin
  • Circadin®
  • Slenyto®  

Melatonin can also be supplied as a liquid.


Please see below for more information on medications which may assist.