Ask Dr. Holmes: Strattera

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Question
Is there any new information on Strattera? Is it a good medicine to use for ADHD?

Answer
There is no recent news related to the use of Strattera, which has been on the market for several years as an alternative treatment for ADHD. It is potentially a helpful medicine for ADHD, especially for the symptoms of inattention and distractibility. However, there are some important things to keep in mind if your child is taking it.
First, Strattera is not a stimulant medication. There can be both a positive and a negative. On the good side, it means that Strattera has no potential for abuse and it is not a controlled substance. It does not require any kind of special prescription. Given these advantages, it would see that Strattera would be used more than it is. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that Strattera is not always as helpful for symptoms of ADHD, compared to the stimulant medicines, especially when there is severe hyperactivity. Also, it is important to remember that Strattera is a much more gradual medicine than the stimulants. It can take a few weeks to know how much benefit will be seen from a particular dose, and the dose usually has to be gradually increased over a period of time. The result is that it can take a few months to know if Strattera is going to be helpful for a specific child.
Strattera requires no regular labs. It can cause stomach complaints, headaches, and either drowsiness or insomnia. These potential side effects sometimes fade over a little time. The main concern about Strattera is that some children have increased moodiness, which can lead to thoughts of self-harm. If your child starts getting more moody while taking Strattera, it is important to let you provider know right away.
Obviously, Strattera is not a perfect alternative to the stimulant medicines. However, it’s a good option to keep in mind. As always, decisions to use any medicines require regular and open communication with your medical provider.

Dr. William Homes is the Senior Medical Director for Cenpatico Behavioral Health. He specializes in medical care to the foster care population. To submit your medical question to Dr. Holmes, please email him at askdrholmes@nfpaonline.org. 

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