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ADD & ADHD Health Center

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Stimulant Drugs for ADHD

Who Should Not Take a Stimulant Drug?

For someone with ADHD, these medications boost the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Some examples of these chemicals are dopamine and norepinephrine. They help nerves in the brain talk to one another.

Who Should Not Take Them?

You should not take stimulants if you have:

  • Glaucoma (a buildup of pressure in your eyes)
  • Severe anxiety, tension, agitation, or nervousness
  • Tics (body movements you can’t control that happen over and over)
  • Tourette's syndrome, or someone in your family has it
  • A history of psychosis or are psychotic
  • Taken a type of medication called monoamine oxidase inhibitor within 14 days of when you start taking the stimulant. Examples of this type of medication include phenelzine (Nardil) or tranylcypromine (Parnate).

What Are the Side Effects of Stimulants?

Common side effects include:

These often go away after a few weeks of taking these medicines. That’s because your body can adjust to the medication. But if they don’t get better, let your doctor know.

Other side effects include:

  • Less of an appetite
  • Weight loss (Sometimes taking your medication after meals can help avoid this. Or you can add high-calorie snacks or shakes to what you eat.)
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia (you have a hard time sleeping)
  • Tics

The may go away if your doctor changes your dose or if you try a different type of stimulant.

Some kids and teens who take stimulants grow slower than those who don’t. But it doesn’t affect their final height. If your child is taking stimulants, their doctor should keep an eye on their weight and height.

Sometimes stimulants can cause allergic reactions. In the case of patches such as Daytrana, the patch can cause permanent loss of skin pigmentation at the site of the patch application. A skin rash can be one of the signs. In general, it’s best to call your doctor if have any new or unusual symptoms.

Before You Take a Stimulant

When you talk to your doctor, be sure to tell him if you:


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