ADHD non-stimulant medicines for ADHD treatment

Though ADHD stimulants are the first choice of medication treatment for ADHD, there are non-stimulants that are prescribed like atomoxetine, tricyclic antidepressants, and bupropion. Of these, atomoxetine is commonly used for treatment of ADHD in adults and children. Also read about stimulant medication for ADHD  patients.

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When can non-stimulants be prescribed for ADHD?
Non stimulants may be prescribed if the patient’s condition does not improve with stimulants, if side effects of stimulants are too much, if the patient has a history of certain heart ailments or if the patient is suffering from bipolar disorder or has a drug problem.

Here are the common non-stimulants for ADHD treatment

Atomoxetine (Brand name: Strattera)
Atomoxetine is the first non stimulant ADHD medication that has been FDA approved for the treatment of ADHD in adults and children (over age 6 years). Atomoxetine comes in the category of medicines known as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Studies have found that this drug improves ADHD symptoms and also reduces panic behavior, anxiety and defiance. Studies have shown that as a non stimulant ADHD drug,

Atomoxetine has fewer side effects than tricylic antidepressants and is more effective than bupropion.. It could take at least six weeks for atomoxetine to attain optimal therapeutic effect. Atomoxetine has to be taken daily, whereas doses of stimulants may be skipped – over the weekend, for example.

Side effects of atomoxetine may include tummy ache, weight loss due to decreased appetite, dry mouth, blood pressure, irritability, nausea etc. This medicine must be taken only on the doctor’s advice.

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Tricyclic Antidepressants
The tricyclic antidepressants most commonly used in the treatment of ADHD include, desipramine (Brand name: Norpramine), imipramine (Tofranil), and amitriptyline (Elavil), and nortriptyline (Pamelor). They are given by the doctor if the patient has symptoms of depression or anxiety in addition to the ADHD. Tricyclic antidepressants induce the secretion of norepinephrine (similar to stimulants) in the brain.

Unlike stimulants it may take a lot of days or even weeks to feel the therapeutic benefits of the tricyclic antidepressants, but once this level is reached benefits can sustain throughout the day. Some of the common side effects include stomach aches, constipation, dry mouth, sleepiness, headaches, insomnia and nightmares.

You should let the doctor know if you have any problem or history of heart problems or seizure problems. The doctor will put on continuous monitoring if he prescribes tricyclic antidepressants, in case you have the aforementioned problems.

Bupropion (Brand name: Wellbutrin) is a an antidepressant that has been found to reduce symptoms of ADHD and depression in many people. Side effects of Bupropion include weight loss, insomnia, decreased appetite etc.

Anti-Hypertensive Drugs
ADHD symptoms can also be managed by drugs like clonidine (Brand name: Catapres) and guanfacine (Brand name: Tenex), Traditinoally used to treat high blood pressure, they have also been found to suppress hyperactivity and impulsive symptoms. But they are not good to treat ADD as such.

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