Ask the Experts

Do You Need Medication for ADHD?

Clearing misconceptions about ADHD and medication.

“How can you claim to be well if you need medication to function?”

Let me see if I understand your question. If you need to take medication, you cannot be normal or well? If you take insulin for diabetes, you are not well? Or, because you have an overactive thyroid, you are not well? Or, maybe if you are post-menopausal and take replacement hormones, you are not well either? Is that what you mean?

My guess is that you’d respond, “No, you misunderstood the question. Of course, these people need medication. They have a medical problem, and now they are ‘normal’ because medication replaces something that’s missing.” So what is different about people with ADHD?

Yes, people with ADHD who take medication are “well.” They, too, have a deficiency of something essential to functioning normally, and the medication helps the body to replace this something – allowing the person to function normally and well. The person with ADHD has a deficiency of a neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, that is essential for a specific pattern of brain functioning. The medication increases the level of this neurotransmitter, allowing these areas of the brain to function normally.

The need for medication to manage symptoms of ADHD is no different than treating the symptoms associated with diabetes, thyroid problems, or menopause. Thousands of people with ADHD are very well indeed because of the medication they take.