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Alternatives to Strattera

By Elizabeth Wolfenden ; Updated August 14, 2017

Strattera, the brand name of the medication atomoxetine, is a common treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although it works well for many people, it's not as effective as other medications for hyperactivity symptoms and sometimes causes unwelcome side effects. There are many alternatives to Strattera.

Stimulant Medications

Doctors frequently prescribe stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD. Although stimulant medications energize people without ADHD, they paradoxically promote a sense of calm for many people with the disorder. They increase focus and concentration by increasing the level of dopamine. Common stimulant medications prescribed for ADHD include amphetamine and the medications lisdexamfetamine, methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine and dextroamphetamine-amphetamine. Many of these medications are available in short-acting forms and long-acting forms, explains MayoClinic.com. Although these medications reduce ADHD symptoms for many with the disorder, stimulants aren't for everyone. Those with hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma, anxiety or a history of addiction should avoid these medications and discuss other treatment options with a doctor. Common side effects of stimulant medications include headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, racing heart, tics, upset stomach, dizziness, depression, irritability, feeling jittery or restless and mood swings, according to HelpGuide.org. Serious but rare side effects include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting, suspicion, paranoia and hallucinations. People experiencing these serious side effects should call a doctor immediately. The Mayo Clinic website also notes that these medications are associated with reduced growth in children.

“Off-Label” Medications

Although antidepressants and blood pressure medications aren't approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat ADHD, doctors sometimes prescribe these medications to reduce the symptoms of the disorder when stimulant medications and Strattera prove ineffective or undesirable. Antidepressants are particularly useful for people who suffer from both ADHD and depression. The most widely used antidepressant prescribed to treat ADHD is bupriorion, according to HelpGuide.org. Commonly prescribed blood pressure medications include guanfacine and clonidine. These medications tend to work better for reducing symptoms of aggression, hyperactivity and impulsivity but may not be as useful for reducing symptoms of inattention.

Non-Medication Options

For those wanting to avoid medications completely, cognitive behavioral counseling educates patients about the disorder and works with them to change their thought and behavior patterns. Family counseling, school counseling and support groups also prove beneficial in many cases. Regular exercise--particularly yoga--may help alleviate symptoms of ADHD, notes MayoClinic.com. Making dietary changes can also help in some situations. These dietary changes include avoiding foods with potential allergens such as eggs, wheat, chocolate, milk and those containing salicylates, artificial colorings and chemical additives. Increasing the intake of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids may also help, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It's possible that some herbal supplements, including ginko, ginseng, hypericum, zinc or fatty acid compounds, may also help. However, those wanting to use herbal supplements should always consult a doctor before doing so. Some of these supplements may produce dangerous or unwelcome side effects.

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