What to Know About Strattera

Learn about the benefits and side effects of atomoxetine, a nonstimulant ADHD medicine.

Portrait of a woman taking a pill.
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Strattera (atomoxetine) is an oral medication that doctors may prescribe to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a behavioral disorder involving hyperactivity, inattentiveness, or impulsivity. People with ADHD may find it hard to sit still, focus for long periods of time, remember everything they need to do, or control their behavior.¹

While common in children, ADHD often continues into adolescence and adulthood. It's estimated that 8.1% of U.S. adults ages 18 to 44 will develop ADHD at some point during their lifetime.²

ADHD treatment options include medications and behavioral therapy.¹ Learn what Strattera reviews suggest about taking atomoxetine for ADHD, including the potential benefits and side effects.

What Is Atomoxetine?

Atomoxetine, also known by the brand name Strattera, may be prescribed as part of a person's ADHD treatment program.⁴ Most people take atomoxetine capsules by mouth once or twice a day.³

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Strattera for the treatment of ADHD symptoms in adults and children over 6 years old in 2002.⁵ In 2017, the FDA approved the first generic versions of the drug.⁶

Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). SNRIs work to treat ADHD and other mental health conditions by increasing the available amount of norepinephrine in the brain.³ Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that helps you stay alert and maintain control in high-stress situations. People with ADHD have been found to have low levels of norepinephrine on average.⁷

Studies have found that atomoxetine is safe and effective for most people with ADHD, including those who also have common co-occurring mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).⁸ In fact, one study indicated that Strattera could reduce ADHD symptoms by about 25% within less than a month.

In addition to treating key ADHD symptoms like inattentiveness, Strattera has been found to improve quality of life and decrease emotional instability among both children and adults with ADHD. One Strattera review indicated that around 50% of adults with ADHD continued to experience these positive effects six months after they stopped taking the drug.

Atomoxetine Side Effects

In clinical trials for atomoxetine, most of the reported side effects were mild. For children, some of the most common Strattera side effects include:⁶

For adults, some of the most common atomoxetine side effects include:⁶

  • Dizziness
  • Sexual side effects (such as erectile dysfunction)
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Lowered appetite
  • Difficulty urinating

Less common Strattera side effects may include:⁴

Before taking atomoxetine, let your doctor know if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. You should also talk to your healthcare provider about any other medications you're taking. If you're taking any monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as Marplan (isocarboxazid) or Nardil (phenelzine), your doctor will most likely tell you not to take Strattera.³

In rare cases, atomoxetine may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts among adolescents and children taking this medication. Youth started on the drug should be closely monitored.⁵, ⁶ If you, your child, or someone you know experiences thoughts of suicide while taking Strattera, seek medical help right away.

Nonstimulants vs Stimulants for ADHD

The most prescribed medications for ADHD are stimulants.¹⁰ Stimulants, such as Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate), work to treat ADHD symptoms by increasing central nervous system activity.¹¹

Strattera is a nonstimulant, which means it works to improve alertness and focus without speeding up your brain activity.³ Tenex (guanfacine) is another common nonstimulant used to treat ADHD.¹²

Many people prefer taking stimulants for ADHD because they work more quickly (often within an hour) and are somewhat more effective in managing symptoms. However, the effects of nonstimulants last longer—up to 24 hours.¹⁰

ADHD stimulants come with a number of possible side effects, such as high blood pressure and tachycardia (fast heart rate). To reduce their risk of cardiovascular problems, people with preexisting heart conditions may choose to take nonstimulant medications instead.¹³

Adderall and other stimulants are also frequently misused. People with ADHD who have a history of substance abuse often take nonstimulant medications to avoid the possibility of addiction or overdose.¹¹

Recap

ADHD is a mental health disorder defined by inattentiveness or hyperactivity.¹ Some healthcare providers prescribe Strattera (atomoxetine) to treat ADHD symptoms like impulsivity, restlessness, and forgetfulness.³

Unlike the most common ADHD medications, Strattera is a nonstimulant. This means that it treats ADHD symptoms without boosting your brain's norepinephrine and dopamine production.³

Strattera has been shown to be safe and effective overall for both children and adults with ADHD.⁴ However, it can cause side effects like nausea, dizziness, sexual side effects, and reduced appetite.⁶

It can be difficult to deal with the symptoms of ADHD, but there are many effective treatments available. Talk to your healthcare provider if you're interested in trying Strattera to manage your ADHD symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Sources:

  1. MedlinePlus. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  3. MedlinePlus. Atomoxetine.
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Strattera (atomoxetine hydrochloride) capsules label.
  5. Childress AC. A critical appraisal of atomoxetine in the management of ADHD. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2015;12:27-39. doi:10.2147/TCRM.S59270
  6. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves first generic Strattera for the treatment of ADHD.
  7. Xing B, Li YC, Gao WJ. Norepinephrine versus dopamine and their interaction in modulating synaptic function in the prefrontal cortex. Brain Res. 2016;1641(Pt B):217-233. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2016.01.005
  8. Clemow DB, Bushe C, Mancini M, Ossipov MH, Upadhyaya H. A review of the efficacy of atomoxetine in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adult patients with common comorbidities. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017;13:357-371. doi:10.2147/NDT.S115707
  9. Clemow DB, Bushe CJ. Atomoxetine in patients with ADHD: A clinical and pharmacological review of the onset, trajectory, duration of response and implications for patients. J Psychopharmacol. 2015;29(12):1221-1230. doi:10.1177/0269881115602489
  10. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment of ADHD.
  11. Weyandt LL, Oster DR, Marraccini ME, et al. Prescription stimulant medication misuse: Where are we and where do we go from here? Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016;24(5):400-414. doi:10.1037/pha0000093
  12. Cortese S, Adamo N, Del Giovane C, et al. Comparative efficacy and tolerability of medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, adolescents, and adults: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(9):727-738. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30269-4
  13. Sinha A, Lewis O, Kumar R, Yeruva SL, Curry BH. Adult ADHD medications and their cardiovascular implications. Case Rep Cardiol. 2016;2016:2343691. doi:10.1155/2016/2343691
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