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Vyvanse vs. Strattera: ADHD Medication Side Effects & Dosage

Vyvanse vs. Strattera comparison

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) and Strattera (atomoxetine) are both used in
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the both work by affecting
levels of certain neurotransmitters. (Neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow
nerves and nerve cells to communicate with one another).

Lisdexamfetamine is in the same drug class of central nervous system (CNS)
stimulants as drugs like Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) and
Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine). Atomoxetine, however, is the first non-addictive
ADHD treatment.

Both can cause nausea, sleep problems, and a number of other shared side
effects, some more serious than others.

Because Vyvanse and Strattera are in different drug classes, however, their
side effects differ somewhat. Strattera can cause sexual side effects,
indigestion and possible allergic reaction, whereas Vyvanse can cause blurred
vision , growth retardation in children and possibly seizures.

Still, the central difference from the standpoint of the person prescribed
either Vyvanse or Strattera is Strattera has no addiction
potential while the Vyvanse does.

Both lisdexamfetamine and atomoxetine interact with a number of drugs, but
most importantly, neither should be taken within two weeks of your last dose of
any drug classified as or containing a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).

What are Vyvanse and Strattera?

Unlike traditional amphetamines and other central nervous system stimulants
like Adderall and Dexedrine, Vyvanse is a prodrug. This means the chemical
(lisdexamfetamine) contained in the pill isn’t, itself, effective to treat the
condition; it doesn’t start working until the body breaks it down in the gut,
where if forms dextroamphetamine. Dextroamphetamine is the sole active
ingredient in Dexedrine and one part of the drug combination in Adderall, and
therefore, lisdexamfetamine results in the same effects and reactions as other
amphetamines by affecting the levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine
and dopamine in the brain.

The slower breakdown and release makes Vyvanse less attractive to people who
are addicted to or who abuse amphetamines. Lisdexamfetamine’s particular
chemistry means it takes longer and makes it more difficult to achieve the high
they crave. This does not mean Vyvanse is not addictive or dangerous, however;
it’s still an amphetamine governed by the U.S. Controlled Substances Act because
of its potential for abuse.

Strattera, on the other hand, has no potential for addiction or withdrawal
symptoms – its central advantage.

Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine
reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which is an entirely different class than the CNS
stimulants family to which the other ADHD medications belong. Strattera’s
non-addictive quality is a novel achievement in ADHD medical treatment. Even
Ritalin (methylphenidate, also sold as Concerta), though not an amphetamine, is
still a habit-forming stimulant that is psychologically addictive.

What are the uses for Vyvanse and Strattera?

Doctors prescribe both Vyvanse and Strattera to treat ADHD in children and
adults. Vyvanse also treats moderate to severe binge eating disorder.

What are the side effects of Vyvanse and Strattera?

Lisdexamfetamine and atomoxetine have a number of side effects in common.
Some include a decrease in appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness,
and insomnia.

Atomoxetine can cause sinus headache, problems urinating, sexual problems,
dry mouth and other issues. Less common, but more dangerous possible reactions to
Strattera include serious allergic reaction and liver failure.

Lisdexamfetamine, like other amphetamines, can cause aggressive behavior,
manic episodes and other psychological symptoms.

Cardiovascular problems like abnormal heart rhythm and high blood pressure
have been reported by people taking Vyvanse as well as by people taking Strattera.

that is, an erection lasting more than four hours, is a medical emergency that
can be caused by either medication in rare cases.

This is not a complete list of side effects. If your doctor has prescribed
you either of these drugs, ask them for more details.

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Can I get addicted to Vyvanse and Strattera?

Strattera is not addictive.

Vyvanse, on the other hand, has a high potential for abuse, considering it’s
in the amphetamine family of drugs. Vyvanse tends to be less addictive than
Adderall or Dexedrine because of its slow, measured absorption by the body
compared with its fellow CNS stimulants.

Amphetamine addiction is marked by cravings, aggressive behavior, hostility,
and even psychosis that may mimic schizophrenia.

What are the withdrawal symptoms of Vyvanse and Strattera?

Strattera, in addition to being non-addictive, also has no withdrawal
symptoms. A doctor may choose to stop administering atomoxetine abruptly with no
ill effects other than a possible mild relapse in the ADHD symptoms the
medication was treating.

Withdrawal from Vyvanse, like withdrawal from any amphetamine, can be
debilitating, especially after prolonged use. Withdrawal symptoms can include
depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, agitation, and intense cravings that
can lead to relapse.


Who is at greater risk for developing ADHD?
See Answer

Which drugs interact with Vyvanse and Strattera?

Never take MAOIs at the same time as either Vyvanse or Strattera. The risk is
so great, you shouldn’t even take atomoxetine or lisdexamfetamine within two
weeks of your last dose of any drug classified as an MAOIs. Common MAOIs include
phenelzine sulfate (Nardil) and tranylcypromine sulfate (Parnate), among others.

Fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and some other medications can
increase the likelihood of Strattera side effects by increasing concentrations
of atomoxetine in the bloodstream.

Amphetamines, including Vyvanse, can raise blood pressure and may weaken or
render ineffective medications used to control hypertension.

Furthermore, doctors should not administer norepinephrine to people taking
Vyvanse, as it can cause serious cardiovascular problems.

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How should Vyvanse and Strattera be taken (dosage)?


  • The recommended starting dose of Vyvanse for treating ADHD in adults is 30 mg.
    For children ages 6 to 12, the dosage is a pill containing 20 mg to 30 mg once daily in the morning. Doses may be increased by 10
    mg to 20 mg per day at weekly intervals. The maximum dose is 70 mg daily.

  • The recommended dose for treating binge eating in adult is 50 to 70 mg daily. The starting dose is 30 mg
    per day and the dose is gradually increased by 20 mg at weekly intervals to reach the recommended daily dose.


  • Strattera is taken in pill form once or twice daily. It may be taken with or without food. The capsules should never be broken and sprinkled on food. They must be taken whole.
  • The recommended starting dose for and children weighing more than 70 kg
    is 40 mg once daily.  The dose is increased after 3 days to 80 mg
    once daily or divided and given every 12 hours. The dose may be increased up
    to 100 mg daily to achieve the optimal response.
  • Children older than 6 and weighing 70 kg or less should receive 0.5
    mg/kg once daily. The dose may be increased after 3 days to 1.2 mg/kg once
    daily or divided every 12 hours. The maximum daily dose shouldn’t
    exceed 1.4 mg/kg or 100 mg, whichever is less.

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Are Vyvanse and Strattera safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

In experiments, animals given high doses of Strattera had babies with low
birth weight and low survival rates. Furthermore, atomoxetine gets passed on in
the milk animals use to feed their young, and therefore human mothers probably
excrete the drug in their milk, too. No studies are available about the use of
Strattera in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so a doctor who wishes to
prescribe Strattera to a pregnant or nursing mother needs to weigh the benefits
and risks of starting or continuing treatment with atomoxetine.

The recommendations regarding lisdexamfetamine during pregnancy and nursing
are much clearer. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not take this drug.

Amphetamines in general cause premature delivery, low birth weight, and
withdrawal symptoms in newborns. Amphetamines are also passed on in breast milk,
so either feed your infant
with formula
or don’t take Vyvanse.


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