Monitor the health of your community here

Drugs That Treat Adult ADHD & Bipolar Together

When ADHD symptoms overlap with conditions such as bipolar disorder, it is difficult to distinguish between disorders. The National Comorbidity Survey showed that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD exist together in 21.2 percent of adult patients with Bipolar Disorder, as reported in 2006 by psychologist Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Adult ADHD and bipolar disorder sufferers’ responses to prescribed drugs vary. Patience on the part of both patient and doctor, along with trial and error, is essential to determine the most effective medications and dosages for an adult with ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Atomoxetine and Other Nonstimulants

Atomoxetine is the first Federal Drug Association-approved, non-stimulant medication for treating people with ADHD who also have bipolar disorder 3. According to psychologists M. Austin, N.S. Reiss and L. Burgdorf, this drug "seems to block norepinephrine receptors in the brain, which increases attention and controls hyperactivity and impulsivity." Unfortunately, for patients who have comorbid ADHD and bipolar disorder with manic features, atomoxetine could trigger a manic episode. However, for some people suffering from both conditions, atomoxetine taken with mood stabilizers may be a safe and effective treatment.

Nonstimulant ADHD prescription drugs are beneficial because they work 24 hours a day, allowing people with ADHD and bipolar disorder to function effectively from early morning until bedtime.

  • Atomoxetine is the first Federal Drug Association-approved, non-stimulant medication for treating people with ADHD who also have bipolar disorder 3.
  • Nonstimulant ADHD prescription drugs are beneficial because they work 24 hours a day, allowing people with ADHD and bipolar disorder to function effectively from early morning until bedtime.

Bupropion

List of ADHD Non Stimulant Medications

Learn More

Bupropion is an atypical antidepressant for people who have both ADHD and the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Patients with both conditions may benefit from taking bupropion (Wellbutrin) in addition to their antimanic agents, according to psychiatrists and authors, Drs. A.P. Wingo and S.N. Ghaemi, who co-authored a study on "Cormorbid Adult ADHD and Bipolar Disorder." The doctors suggest treating adults’ mood symptoms and then reassessing the ADHD diagnosis. If the patient has both conditions, doctors recommend keeping patients on mood stabilizers and prescribing bupropion, because it has low manic switch rates.

  • Bupropion is an atypical antidepressant for people who have both ADHD and the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
  • If the patient has both conditions, doctors recommend keeping patients on mood stabilizers and prescribing bupropion, because it has low manic switch rates.

Lithium and Other Mood Stabilizers

Whether mood instability is a symptom of ADHD or of a comorbid condition, mood stabilizers, such as:

  • Lithium
  • prescribed to treat bipolar disorder
  • may be useful in alleviating irritability
  • managing extreme mood swings

in the magazine "ADDitude."

×