ADHD Non-Stimulant Medication

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. –     Kofi Annan

When my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD we began a long journey of trying various medications and it was absolutely the most overwhelming experience I have ever had. I compared it to learning a new computer language. Sitting in the ever so busy doctor’s office, I knew that I had very limited time to understand the options that were going to be presented to use for a treatment plan.   So, I hurriedly began searching for what my options would be on my phone while we waited in the reception room. This was one of the few times that I was actually happy they were running behind schedule.

I had every intention to look it up ahead of time, but between work, after school sports, being the homework Sargeant, laundry, dinner, and my latest Netflix binge, I forgot to do it!

This was my chance to get informed. Well, let’s just say before I dug into the various drug options, I had no idea there was such a thing as stimulant and non-stimulant options.   So, if you were just like me, I just thought they were all one big category for ADHD. BUT as I found in my searches, I needed to REALLY set time aside and learn the different categories, how she might react to each one based on her diet, body type, and other factors. It was all so overwhelming that when we finally went into the appointment, I succumbed to what the doctor recommended. I later came to find out that they really didn’t know what would be best for us either without a lot more trials.

It is a long process that takes dedication and education to gain knowledge of the individual and how they respond to the medications. I had assumed we could just walk into the office and get a script, work on some strategies at home and be done. That day opened a whole new educational journey for me and one I want to help others become informed OR at least know there is a lot to know when determining a medication treatment plan. It is not a one medication that works best for the general population.

We are unique individuals and the treatment plan needs to represent that.

The ones suffering with ADHD are generally prescribed stimulants. However, there can be certain side-effects of stimulants and in that case, non-stimulants are prescribed. It also happens when one may have certain other ailments or conditions, if one’s system does not respond to stimulants or if their usage is resulting in side-effects. We tried both to come up with a plan that would work and it took months to get it right.

Following is a list of ADHD non-stimulation medication list:

  1. Strattera or Atomoxetine

One of the first FDA approved medications for ADHD, Strattera boosts the amount of norepinephrine in the brain. It decreases the defiance, opposition, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity and increases attention span.  It can be consumed by anyone above the age of six. Since it is a non-stimulant medication, it is not a controlled substance and negates the possibility of potential abuse. It has also been classified as a first-line therapy for ADHD.  This medication has to be taken daily without a break for results that fully appear in six weeks and may last for more than 24 hour.

The side-effects are increased heart rate and anxiety, increased blood pressure, weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, irritability, and agitation. It is advisable to take this medication with food for lesser or no side-effects.

  1. Intuniv or long-acting Guanfacine

The drug is effective in decreasing distractibility and increasing memory, attention and sharpening the impulses. It can be consumed by anyone above the age of six.

Approved by the FDA, this drug is not a controlled substance. It takes four to six weeks to show maximum results.

The side-effects may include headaches, stomach-aches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, lethargy, dropped blood pressure and appetite as well as irritability.

 

  1. Kapvay or long-acting Clonidine

To be taken twice a day for maximum results, this drug is FDA approved as well. Alike the aforementioned drug, long-acting Guanfacine, also known as long-acting agonists, the drug can be consumed along with stimulants to eradicate any symptoms left behind after the usage of stimulant medication.It can be consumed by patients above the age of six and shows effects on certain areas of the brain.It is effective in lowering distractibility and increasing memory and attention and controlling impulses.

The side-effects may include fatigue, nausea, lethargy, headaches, sleepiness, low blood pressure, irritability, and decreased appetite.

  1. Tricyclic Antidepressants

Drugs such as

  • Imipramine or Tofranil
  • Nortriptyline or Pamelor
  • Amitriptyline or Elavil
  • Desipramine or Norpramin

are known as tricyclic antidepressants and are prescribed when stimulants fail to show any effect. They are effective when the patient is suffering with ADHD and anxiety or depression.

These drugs boost norepinephrine in the brain. The therapeutic benefits can take days or weeks to show an effect. However, once achieved, the effects can last for more than 24 hours at a stretch or more. The dosage must be daily. Skipping a day of dosage can result in symptoms of flu and aches. Hence, tapering off eventually rather than a stoppage of intake abruptly is advisable.

The side-effects noticed may be insomnia, headaches, stomach-aches, vivid dreams, blurred vision, drowsiness, constipation, and dry mouth.

It is advisable to consult a doctor to be prescribed drugs and discuss what is available for your unique situation. Be an involved and informed patient. Knowing your options early will prepare yourself for the decisions when you are at the doctor’s office. Knowledge is power!

Michelle Raz specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD,  Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.