How Does Strattera Work To Treat ADHD?

A diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically established during childhood when difficulties in the classroom are observed and other criteria for the disorder are met, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). ADHD symptoms can persist into adulthood, and some adults with ADHD may be unaware of their condition if their symptoms were not diagnosed when they were children.  

ADHD is classified into three subtypes, including hyperactive/impulsive, inattentive, and combined presentation. Symptoms of hyperactive/impulsive ADHD include difficulty sitting still, talking excessively, and interrupting others. In comparison, those with the inattentive type may have trouble paying attention, organizing, and remembering to complete tasks. They could make mistakes in their work, lose items easily, and struggle with tasks that involve prolonged concentration (per ADDitude). Inattentive ADHD is generally more prevalent among girls than the hyperactive/impulsive type, so they may be more likely to go undiagnosed because they are less disruptive in the classroom. There are instances where someone might display symptoms of both types, in which case they would be classified under the combined presentation category.

Untreated ADHD can negatively impact someone's potential for academic achievement, professional success, and meaningful personal relationships; and effective treatment can improve the quality of life of those with the disorder. ADHD is commonly treated with stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which can carry the potential for substance misuse (per Cleveland Clinic). Strattera, a non-stimulant medication, may help improve ADHD symptoms without the risk of addiction by modifying brain chemistry.

Treating ADHD with Strattera

Strattera may be an appropriate treatment option for individuals who are wary of taking stimulant medications or are vulnerable to substance misuse. As explained by, Strattera is considered a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). As the name suggests, Strattera inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which allows the brain to release more norepinephrine in the synapses between neurons. However, it's unclear exactly how the drug works to treat ADHD. 

ADHD symptoms can improve for some people who take Strattera. By providing more norepinephrine, Strattera can boost energy levels, aid in concentration, and decrease impulsive behavior, according to YoungMinds. Strattera is longer-acting than stimulant medications, so individuals with ADHD may experience its benefits for at least 24 hours after taking it (per BuzzRx). Strattera may also be helpful for people who struggle with depressive symptoms in addition to their ADHD. 

While Strattera has many advantages for treating ADHD, it also has its disadvantages. Unlike stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin, people with ADHD may not notice improvements for up to six weeks after starting Strattera. Initially, the medication may make them feel tired or dizzy. Other side effects an individual with ADHD may experience while taking Strattera include nausea, weight loss, headaches, and fluctuations in mood.

It's important to note that Strattera can trigger suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some individuals with ADHD, and it's critical to see your doctor regularly so they can monitor your mental state as you're being treated with the medication.

Other strategies for treating ADHD

ADHD symptoms can sometimes be alleviated with additional treatments in combination with medication management. Some form of psychotherapy is usually incorporated into the treatment plan of someone with the disorder. As described by Neurohealth Associates, children with ADHD may benefit from behavioral therapy focused on rewarding positive behaviors so they are repeated in the future. On the other hand, behavioral therapy involves taking away a privilege when an undesirable behavior is observed in a child with ADHD. Play therapy may also be a suitable option for children with ADHD, as it allows them to express themselves through play, eases their anxious feelings, and fosters their sense of security and belonging. 

Adults with ADHD can benefit from psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and marriage and family therapy, according to When someone struggles with ADHD symptoms that impact their self-esteem and prevent them from reaching their full potential, cognitive behavioral therapy can help them reframe their negative thoughts into more constructive ones. During marriage and family therapy, someone with ADHD may be able to improve their communication skills and learn how to resolve interpersonal conflict with others. In addition, behavioral coaches and professional organizers can assist with the practical aspects of ADHD treatment, like time management and finances. 

Symptoms of ADHD may also be reduced by implementing lifestyle changes, like spending time in nature, taking supplements like magnesium and zinc, and maintaining a healthy diet, as noted by Healthline.