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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Drug Combinations to Treat ADHD in Children

Alpha-2 Agonists

Two drugs called alpha-2 agonists, in extended release form, are now formally approved to treat kids with ADHD:

  • Clonidine ER (Kapvay)
  • Guanfacine ER (Intuniv)

These medicines can be used alone or together with a stimulant medicine. They are extended-release medicines that can last for 12 to 24 hours.

Kapvay and Intuniv were originally made to treat high blood pressure. However, they also affect certain chemical receptors in the brain that help to treat ADHD. In children with ADHD, they improve:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Impulse control
  • Hyperactivity
  • Agitation
  • Aggression

Research shows Kapvay and Intuniv also can help kids with ADHD who have tics. But they have not been approved by the FDA for that purpose.

Side effects of these drugs in children and teens can include:

Antidepressants

For children and teens who also have mood issues, doctors may prescribe antidepressant drugs along with a stimulant.

These drugs aren't specifically approved for ADHD, but studies show they help control symptoms such as hyperactivity and aggression. These antidepressants include:

Bupropion (Wellbutrin). This medication can help improve mood in children and teens with ADHD and depression.

Side effects can include irritability and trouble sleeping.

Imipramine ( Tofranil ) and nortriptyline ( Pamelor ). These are called tricyclic antidepressants.

Side effects of these drugs can include:

 

Venlafaxine (Effexor). This drug, in its extended-release form, can also be used for children with ADHD and mood or anxiety issues.

Children who already take a MAO inhibitor antidepressant should not take these medications.

Your doctor might try different medicines to find the ones that work best for your child. During treatment the doctor will regularly monitor your child's progress, as well as check your child's height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure.

Let your doctor know if a medicine isn't working or if it's causing side effects. But don't stop the medicine without first talking to your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 13, 2015
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