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Nonstimulant Therapy and Other ADHD Drugs


Who Shouldn't Take Nonstimulants?

Nonstimulants are not the right medication for everybody with ADHD. You should probably not take Strattera if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with narrow angle glaucoma (a condition that causes increased pressure in the eyes and can lead to blindness)
  • Use a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) for depression,  like Nardil or Parnate
  • Have an allergy to any of the ingredients in Strattera
  • Have jaundice or liver problems

You should probably not take Intuniv if you:

  • Have an allergy to any of the ingredients in Intuniv
  • Take other products containing guanfacine, like the blood pressure medicine Tenex

Do not take Kapvay if you are allergic to clonidine in Kapvay.

Before starting treatment with a nonstimulant medication, talk to your doctor about your medical history and go over all the risks.

Nonstimulants: Tips and Precautions

If you've been prescribed a nonstimulant for ADHD, be sure to tell your doctor:

  • If you are nursing, pregnant, or plan to become pregnant
  • If you take any prescription medications for other conditions, like blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, sedatives, or antipsychotics
  • If you take any dietary supplements, herbal medicines, or over-the-counter medications
  • If you have any medical problems, including high or low blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, glaucoma, mental health issues, liver disease or jaundice, or kidney problems
  • If you have had an allergic reaction to any medications in the past
  • If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse or dependency
  • If you become agitated or irritable, or develop suicidal thoughts

Like any medication, Strattera  Intuniv, and Kapvay should always be taken exactly as prescribed. Strattera is usually taken once or twice a day and Kapvay is taken twice a day. Intuniv is a once-a-day drug. Your doctor will probably want you to check in periodically. He or she may order some lab tests to make sure that the drug is working and not causing any problems.

Antidepressant Drugs for ADHD

Several types of antidepressant drugs can be used to treat ADHD. Antidepressant therapy for ADHD is sometimes used as the treatment of choice for children or adults who have ADHD and depression.

Antidepressants, however, are generally not as effective as stimulants or nonstimulants at improving attention span and concentration.

Antidepressants used for treating ADHD include the following:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as Pamelor, Aventyl, Tofranil and Norpramin, have been shown to be helpful in children and adults with ADHD, but they can cause some unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, constipation, or urinary problems. They are also relatively inexpensive.
  • Wellbutrin is a different type of antidepressant that is very effective in treating ADHD in adults and children. It is generally well-tolerated, but it also has some side effects that may be a problem for some people who have anxiety or seizures.
  • Effexor and Effexor XR are newer antidepressants that increase the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. The drugs are effective at improving mood and concentration in adults as well as children and teens. Effexor can be used to treat ADHD, but not commonly.
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors are a group of antidepressants that can treat ADHD with some benefit, but are rarely used because they have significant and sometimes dangerous side effects and can dangerously interact with foods and other medications. They may be of benefit in people where other medications have failed. Examples include Nardil or Parnate.

Note: In October 2004, The FDA determined that antidepressant medications increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your health care provider.

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