According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
To break this definition down into its parts:
- Attention deficit – this is the inattention to details and trouble keeping focus, disorganization, and sometimes wandering off. This is not related to lack of understanding, comprehension or bad attitude.
- Hyperactivity – this is the constant need to move, such as fidgeting, tapping, talking, and restlessness. With this comes impulsivity – making decisions and/or taking actions without thinking of the long term effects, possible harm or outcome. There is a need for immediate gratification and action.
Symptoms of ADHD can appear as early as 3-6years of age and can, unfortunately, be mistaken as simple bad behavior due to poor parenting skills. It is important to note that people with ADHD do not have it because they are less intelligent, are “behaving badly” or are defiant.
There is no cure for ADHD, but there are treatments that can and often do help reduce symptoms and improve day to day functions. Often a combination of treatments such as psychotherapy, education, behavior therapy and prescription medication may help patients.
Strattera ® (atomoxetine) for ADHD
Strattera® (atomoxetine) is a non-stimulant medication used for the treatment of ADHD. It is the first non-stimulant medication approved by the FDA. It works on a particular chemical in the brain that transmits nerve impulses, known as a neurotransmitter, called norepinephrine. By Strattera® increasing the amount of norepinephrine in the brain the patient may see a decrease in hyperactivity and improved impulse behavior as well as an increase in their ability focus and their attention span.
Unlike psychostimulants that are often used as a treatment for ADHD, Strattera® does not cause many of the side effects such as sleeplessness. Still, when Strattera® is started there may be side effects such as nausea, drowsiness and abdominal pain when the medication is first started. Because Strattera®is not a controlled substance, there is less chance the patient will become dependent on it or abuse it.
Side effects of Strattera® in adults may include:
- Dry mouth
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hot flashes
- Painful menstruation
Side effects of Strattera® in adolescents and children may include:
- Mood swings
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
Other side effects and reactions, such as an increase in suicidal thoughts in teens have been reported while first taking Strattera®. Always speak to your pharmacist about potential concerns with this or any other medication you may be taking.
Tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, or a history of heart disease. It is also important to tell your doctor if anyone in your family, including yourself, have ever had suicidal thoughts, low blood pressure, liver disease, depression, mental illness, psychosis or bipolar disorder.
Strattera® is available in 10mg, 18mg, 25mg, 40mg, 60mg, 80mg and 100mg capsules
Initial dose: 40mg tablet once a day.
Maintenance dose: 80mg/day after at least 3 days at the initial dose level
Maximum dose: up to 100mg/day after at least 2-4 days at the maintenance dose level.
Strattera® is prescribed according to the weight of the child or adolescent taking the medication. The total dose in children and adolescents should not exceed 1.4mg/kg or 100mg, whichever is less.
70kg or less:
Initial dose: 0.5mg/kg/day
Maintenance dose: 1.2mg/kg/day after at least 3 days at the initial dose level.
Maximum dose: 1.4mg/kg/day or 100mg/day, whichever is less.
Initial dose: 40mg/day
Maintenance dose: 80mg/day after at least 3 days at the initial dose level.
Maximum dose: 100mg/day, whichever is less.
If Strattera® is to be used for an extended period of time your physician should reevaluate the effectiveness of the medication on a regular basis.
If you have questions about your prescription or non-prescription medication, please contact the team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784) or visit their website at https://www.canadaonlinehealth.ca. One of the friendly and discreet pharmacy representatives will be happy to answer your questions.
This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).