Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Teens (cont.)

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What non-stimulant medications are available to treat ADHD in teens?

Non-stimulant medications are generally considered to be second line in the treatment of ADHD. They are generally found to be more subtle in their effectiveness compared to stimulant class medications. One of the primary non-stimulant medications prescribed is atomoxetine (Strattera). Other non-stimulant medications that have been found to be helpful in treating ADHD include those that are also used as cardiac medications like guanfacine (Tenex or Intuniv) and clonidine (Kapvay).

A disadvantage to such medications is that they may take up to 6 weeks for atomoxetine and 1 to 4 weeks for guanfacine and clonidine to achieve an effective dosage. In addition, taking "drug holidays" (for example, winter break) is not as feasible as it is when a patient is utilizing a member of the stimulant class of medications. Side effects of atomoxetine may include decreased appetite, upset stomach, and sleepiness. Side effects of guanfacine and clonidine may include sleepiness, dizziness, low blood pressure when taking the medication, and high blood pressure if the medication is stopped abruptly. In 2005, the FDA published a "black box" warning for atomoxetine and the risk for suicidal thoughts or attempts, especially in adolescents.

Pediatric behavior specialists may consider the use of antidepressants for ADHD patients who experience unreasonable side effects, do not effectively respond to stimulant/non-stimulant medications, or in those who also suffer from significant depression or anxiety.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/19/2013

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