Wondering How ADHD Meds Are Supposed to Make You Feel?

Adult ADHD and Feelings
A patient has different clip-ons to express her mood with Adult ADHD.

If you’ve never taken stimulants for ADHD symptoms before, you might be curious about the effects they can have on you...

Albert Hernandez

December 15, 2021
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 20, 2022
  6 min read

December 15, 2021
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 20, 2022
  6 min read


At Upper Valley Behavioral Health, we are able to see patients in and around El Paso, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque, as well as in other parts of New Mexico. I often treat adult patients who have experienced symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for many years, but have never been treated before. 

As we discuss what stimulant medication and dose might be a good starting point for their ADD/ADHD symptoms, patients often have many questions. They ask about potential side effects to their medication. They wonder if stimulants might make them feel zoned out or zombie-like. And more generally, patients often ask:

“How am I supposed to feel when taking ADHD medication?”

I let patients know that taking a stimulant medication like Adderall, Vyvanse, or Concerta for ADHD is meant to improve their symptoms. This can look somewhat different for each individual. Many patients report a new ability to sit still and/or focus that can make significant improvements in their work or school life, their romantic relationship, and/or their ability to parent.

There’s no clear-cut answer to how ADHD medications will look for you, and that’s because the impact of adult ADHD symptoms on your life is individual for everyone. 

Symptoms of Adult ADHD

Why do people even seek treatment for their ADHD? It’s usually because the symptoms of their adult ADHD are causing significant problems for them. Some of the symptoms of adult ADHD are:

  • Not paying attention when being spoken to
  • Inability to sit still
  • Losing important items
  • Talking excessively and/or talking over others
  • Not finishing tasks at work or school
  • Losing track of scheduled events
  • Irritability
  • Having a hard time starting tasks that will require a lot of focus

When patients are experiencing these symptoms, it’s easy to understand the negative impacts that they can have on their lives. Adults often seek treatment because they are feeling burned out or worried about work; they may even have been on a performance improvement plan or received warnings about their work. They might be struggling to connect emotionally or sexually with their partner. Some patients feel so exhausted from trying to do a good job with their work, home, or school tasks that they don’t have the energy to be the parent they want to be. Other patients notice that they are feeling distant from their friends. 

How Stimulant Medication Provides Benefits to Adults With ADHD

When people have ADHD, certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) aren’t able to talk to each other the way they should. Stimulant medication helps these brain chemicals communicate better, and therefore help your ADHD symptoms. So, if stimulant medications such as Concerta, Adderall, and Vyvanse help to improve your adult ADHD symptoms, how should you feel? What changes and benefits might you notice?

Work Benefits

ADHD medication can help patients with workplace issues.

Poor performance at work is one of the biggest stressors that some of my adult ADHD patients face. If you’re worried about how your job is going, you might fear not being able to take care of your family financially. When their ADHD symptoms are controlled with their stimulant medications, my patients report improvements such as no longer cutting off their boss or their peers at work. Many patients also find they stop putting off work tasks that used to seem too complex or boring. 

Social Benefits

Adult ADHD medications can improve patient’s tolerability to sit still and enjoy a movie with their friends.

If you've noticed that you’re not meeting up with your friends as often as you used to, with your ADHD symptoms under control, your social relationships can improve again. You might find that you’re are able to listen to entire songs without skipping them, so you’re no longer annoying your friend who is driving. Some patients can finally watch an entire movie seated. Calming your hyperactive symptoms can make hanging out with your friends more fun for everyone. 

Family Benefits

Adult ADHD medication has the ability to improve relationships.

When stimulant medication helps improve my patients’ adult ADHD symptoms, some of them notice improvements in their family relationships. They’re suddenly able to tolerate their kids’ behavior better and actually look forward to spending time with them. Some of my patients also report finally being able to manage their children’s school, social, and extracurricular schedules. Other patients may notice that with their work life going more smoothly, they feel less anger or exhaustion at home. This can lead to better intimacy with their spouse. 

School Benefits

Medication for Adult ADHD may improve a patient’s academic performance.

If you’re a student with adult ADHD, it can be a challenge to obtain the grades you want to earn. Some patients have let me know that after starting ADHD treatment, they are able to start writing their school papers earlier and complete them faster. I’ve also had patients who shared that after starting their stimulant medication they were finally able to organize their studying schedule and improve their test scores. 

How Should I Not Feel When Taking Stimulants For ADHD?

All medications have potential side effects, and stimulants like Vyvanse, Concerta, and Adderall may cause some difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, and headache, among other side effects. It’s even possible for stimulant medication to cause anxiety, irritability, or hallucinations; if you’re experiencing these side effects, you should let your provider know right away. Many unpleasant or disruptive side effects of stimulants can be managed with adjustments to med doses, timing of medication, or switching to a different medication. 

It’s important to let your prescriber know if your stimulant medication seems to be impacting you negatively. He or she will likely have medication adjustment and/or lifestyle changes to suggest to you. 

How could your life be different if your ADHD symptoms were under control? If you’re located in El Paso or Las Cruces, Albuquerque, or one of the other locations Upper Valley Behavioral Health serves, we would love to help you take back your life. Please click here today to fill out our application for treatment. 

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not replace instructions from your licensed prescriber. Please consult your healthcare provider for guidance on your specific medication regimen.

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