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Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Emerging Treatment

  • Lenard A. Adler (a1)


Treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may positively impact the neurobiology of adult patients with ADHD. Treatment may also minimize impairment from core symptoms and may alter the course of co-morbid disorders such as depression and substance use disorder. However, much of the information on stimulant use in adult ADHD comes from studies conducted in children, and it remains unclear whether there is a difference between children and adults when it comes to the side effects and tolerability of ADHD treatments. It is known that clinical presentation differs between adults and children, with adults demonstrating a higher percentage of mood disorders. Current treatments for adult ADHD include psychosocial therapies and pharmacologic therapies, the latter of which include the stimulants d-methylphenidate extended release (XR), OROS methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, and mixed amphetamine salts XR; and the nonstimulant atomoxetine, a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. There is need for additional study of treatment strategies for adult ADHD. Although all classes of ADHD medications are approved in adults, there are fewer approved formulations for adults than for children. Efficacy in adults is more subjective than in children, which may affect how efficacy rates for adult treatments are calculated. Adults also present a greater diversion risk than children. In addition, there are several new and emerging medication treatments worth considering.

This Expert Roundtable Supplement represents part 2 of a 3-part supplement series on adult ADHD led by Lenard A. Adler, MD. In this activity, Thomas J. Spencer, MD, discusses the neurobiology and genetics of adult ADHD; Mark A. Stein, PhD, discusses stimulant therapy; and Jeffrey H. Newcorn, MD, reviews nonstimulants and psychosocial treatments.



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1.Castellanos, FX, Lee, PP, Sharp, W, et al.Developmental trajectories of brain volume abnormalities in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. JAMA. 2002;288(14):17401748.
2.Safren, SA, Otto, MW, Sprich, S, et al.Cognitive-behavioral therapy for ADHD in medication-treated adults with continued symptoms. Behav Res Ther. 2005;43(7):831842.


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