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ADD & ADHD Health Center

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Nonstimulant Therapy and Other ADHD Drugs

Antidepressant Drugs for ADHD

Several types of these can treat the disorder, too. They're sometimes the treatment of choice for children or adults who have ADHD and depression.

Antidepressants seem to improve attention span, impulse control, hyperactivity, and aggressiveness. Children and teens who take them are often more willing to take direction and are less disruptive.

But these drugs generally don’t work as well as stimulants or nonstimulants to improve attention span and concentration.

Antidepressants have the advantage of a low potential for abuse, and there is no evidence that they suppress growth or contribute to significant weight loss.

Most of them work by boosting the levels of brain messenger-chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.

How Do High Blood Pressure Drugs Treat ADHD?

How high blood pressure drugs work in treating ADHD is not yet known, but it is clear that they have a calming effect on certain areas of the brain.

Clonidine can be applied in a weekly patch form for gradual medication release. This delivery method helps decrease some side effects, such as dry mouth and fatigue. After a few weeks, side effects usually diminish considerably.

Clonidine and guanfacine can help reduce some of the side effects of stimulant therapy, especially sleeplessness and aggressive behavior. However, combining stimulants with one of these drugs is controversial, because there have been some deaths in children taking both stimulants and Catapres.

It is not known whether these deaths were due to the combination of drugs, but caution should be exercised whenever such combinations are used. Careful screening for heart rhythm irregularities and regular monitoring of blood pressure and electrocardiograms help reduce these risks. If your doctor thinks that combining these two treatments offers more benefits than risks, it may be a good option.

The main kinds of these drugs used to treat ADHD are:

Tricyclic antidepressants. They've been shown to be helpful and are relatively inexpensive. But they can cause some unpleasant side effects, like dry mouth, constipation, or urinary problems. Options include:

Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is a different type of antidepressant that is very effective in treating ADHD in adults and children. It's generally well-tolerated, but it also has some side effects that may be a problem for some people who have anxiety or seizures.

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