Skip to content

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Font Size

Nonstimulant Therapy and Other ADHD Drugs

Stimulant medications are usually a doctor's first choice for treating ADHD, but they’re not for everyone. They can cause bad side effects for some people. For others, they just don’t work very well.

If you’re looking for other medications that work for the disorder, you've got several choices.

Sometimes your doctor will add one of these medicines to the stimulant you take, or he might have you take one of the following by itself.

There are three main groups of nonstimulant medications for the condition:

ADHD-specific nonstimulants. These were specifically created to treat the disorder and are FDA-approved for that.

Blood pressure medications. They can also help some people control ADHD. Some of these have the same active ingredient as ADHD-specific nonstimulants.

Antidepressants . These can help against the disorder by working on chemicals in the brain. They're also helpful for people who have ADHD and depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder.

ADHD-Specific Nonstimulants

Atomoxetine (Strattera) is OK for children, teens, and adults. It seems to boost the amount of an important brain chemical called norepinephrine. This appears to increase a person's attention span and lessen their impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.

Clonidine ER (Kapvay) and Guanfacine ER (Intuniv) are approved for children ages 6 to 17. Doctors also prescribe them to adults. These two drugs have an effect on certain areas in the brain. Studies show they lower distractibility and improve attention, working memory, and impulse control.

Advantages of Nonstimulants Over Stimulants

Nonstimulants don’t tend to cause agitation, sleeplessness, or lack of appetite. They also don’t pose the same risk of abuse or addiction.

Plus, they have a longer-lasting and smoother effect than many stimulants, which can take effect and wear off abruptly.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

Post it notes
Symptoms and treatments.
Close up of eye
What's zapping your focus?
man driving car
How to manage your impulses.
contemplating woman
Learn to stop procrastinating.
concentration killers
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications

boy eating egg
smiling man
ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Adult man lying awake in bed