Both Strattera and Adderall have dissimilar chemical composition, and moreover, their mechanism of action is also different. The following Buzzle write-up discusses the differences between these two ADHD drugs.
Adderall Vs. Strattera
What is It?
♦ Adderall is a stimulant drug and acts on the central nervous system.
♦ Those looking for non-stimulant ADHD medication should go for Strattera.
♦ It is an amphetamine-based product, and amphetamine acts as a CNS stimulant. 75% of Adderall accounts for dextroamphetamine, while the rest is made up of levoamphetamine.
♦ The active ingredient in Strattera is atomoxetine HCl. Although this ingredient is classified as an antidepressent, it is clinically proven to be effective for ADHD treatment.
How Does it Work?
♦ Adderall targets that area of the brain involved in paying attention. The drug stimulates release of norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters (brain chemical) that play a major role in regulating the components of attention in the central nervous system. The drug not only elevates the secretion of these neurotransmitters but also prolongs their duration of activity.
♦ Strattera is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, meaning it reduces the breakdown of norepinephrine in the brain, in turn causing an increase in the availability of norepinephrine.
Onset of Action
♦ Compared to non-stimulants, stimulants have a fast onset of action. The onset of action varies from 30 to 60 minutes for Adderall, and its duration of action is around 8-12 hours.
♦ Although its onset of action is gradual, Strattera is a long-acting formula with its effects lasting for about 24 hours.
♦ As it directly affects the central nervous system, the side effects of Adderall can be severe. Abdominal pain, headache, nervousness, and weight loss are the possible side effects
♦ As it is a non-stimulant, regular intake of Strattera may lead to fewer number of side effects. Moreover, its side effect profile is usually milder. Possible side effects include constipation, nausea, dry mouth, and drowsiness.
♦ Adderall not only increases the concentration of neurotransmitters (that control the ability to focus), but also increases their duration of action, making it more effective in treating ADHD.
♦ Although Strattera has fewer side effects, it tends to be less effective than Adderall.
♦ Stimulants are habit forming and are likely to produce withdrawal symptoms if the dose is discontinued suddenly. So, gradual reduction of dose is advised.
♦ Going cold turkey with Strattera is unlikely to produce any withdrawal symptoms; hence, one can discontinue the drug abruptly.
♦ Stimulants like Adderall are more likely to raise blood pressure; hence, people with heart problems need to avoid this medication. The CNS stimulant can also produce waves of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which may lead to seizures. Intake of Adderall may cause excess stimulation of the nervous system, thereby increasing the chances of developing a heart attack or a stroke.
♦ Non-stimulants like Strattera are at reduced risk of serious side effects related to the heart, brain, and blood pressure. Appetite loss, chest tightness, and insomnia are more common in Adderall than Strattera. On the contrary, sleepiness is reportedly a common side effect with Strattera.
Medication, exercise, and behavioral therapy are some of the alternatives to conventional treatment of ADHD. Often, medication alone may not be sufficient in treating ADHD patients. Combination therapy that involves behavioral interventions along with prescription medicines was found to be more effective to treat ADHD patients. One has to take the help of ADHD coach or psychotherapist who may offer cognitive-behavior therapy and behavior modification for ADHD treatment.