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Effects Should Be Immediate
"I’m an adult who was just diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been taking a stimulant for two days, but I don’t feel more focused. How long should this medication take to work?"
Stimulants usually start to work within an hour, so it may be that your dose is too low. Stimulant doses are based on how quickly the body metabolizes the drug, not on the patient’s weight, height, or age, so there’s no way to predict the correct dose for any particular person. Doctors usually start by prescribing a low dose, say 5 mg. If one week passes with no improvement, the dose is generally increased.
Your doctor probably asked you to check in after a few days of starting the medication. If not, call anyway to report that there has been no effect.
Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.