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ADHD in Children Health Center

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The Basics of ADHD

Nonstimulant Drugs and ADHD

Strattera (atomoxetine), Catapres and Kapvay (clonidine), and Intuniv and Tenex (guanfacine) are some of the nonstimulant drugs used to treat ADHD in children, adolescents and adults. With the exception of Strattera, all of these medications are normally taken to treat high blood pressure, but they have been shown to be of some benefit for ADHD when used alone or in combination with stimulant drugs. These drugs decrease the heart rate and relax the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely. 

Strattera (atomoxetine) is in a class of medications called selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. It works by increasing the levels of norepinephrine, a natural substance in the brain that is needed to control behavior.

Note: Strattera carries a warning about the increased risk of suicidal thinking in children and adolescents. Doctors are advised to watch for this behavior and alter medications as needed.

Antidepressant Therapy for ADHD

Antidepressant therapy for ADHD is sometimes used as the initial treatment in children or adults who also suffer from significant depression. Antidepressants, however, are generally not as effective as stimulants or the newer nonstimulant treatments at improving attention span and concentration. It also may take 2 to 4 weeks for the full benefits of antidepressants to appear.

Note: The FDA has determined that antidepressant medications increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your health care provider.

Behavior Management and ADHD

Learning behavior management techniques is considered to be an essential part of any successful ADHD treatment program. Most experts agree that combining medication with extended behavior management is the most effective way to manage ADHD in children and adolescents.

In adults with ADHD, experts agree that a combination of medication and socialization training and/or behavior management can help most patients.

 

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on May 10, 2014

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