ADD/ ADHD: Treating A Growing Psychiatric Disorder

Posted by in Patient Health, Patient Safety

The prevalence of patients diagnosed with either Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has grown significantly since first being discovered in 1937. At this point in time, the diagnoses of ADD and ADHD did not yet exist. In fact, patients who presented with core ADD/ ADHD symptoms were recognized as having a hyperkinetic behavioral disorder. Over the preceding decades, clinical research studies have found that “ADHD is the most common neurobiological disorder in children, with a prevalence of 6% to 7%” (Connolly et al., 2015, p. 632). The medications typically prescribed to help treat the symptoms of ADD/ ADHD include Amphetamines, Atomoxetine (Strattera), and Bupropion (Wellbutrin SR).

Amphetamines are not only the most commonly prescribed medications for treatment of ADHD, but are also the most effective. Amphetamines are classified as controlled, ‘Central Nervous System Stimulants’, and  work by producing CNS stimulation through the release of norephinephrine from nerve endings. The therapeutic effects that are to be expected include an increase in motor activity, increased mental alertness, increased attention span, and decreased fatigue.

The next medication that is frequently prescribed is called Atomoxetine (Strattera), which is a ‘Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor’. This medication works by selectively inhibiting the presynaptic transportation of norepinephrine, and should produce a therapeutic response of increased attention span.

The last medication that is most commonly used to treat ADD/ ADHD is Bupropion (Wellbutrin SR). This medication is actually classified as an ‘Antidepressant’, however is frequently prescribed for its off-label treatment of ADHD in adults. This medication is only given to adults and not children due to an increase risk for seizures. Bupropion works by decreasing neuronal reuptake of dopamine in the CNS, as well as diminishing neuronal uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. The expected therapeutic response is that the patient should experience a boost in their ability to concentrate.


Source material adapted from The Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science Journal.