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What is Strattera®?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Strattera® is a prescription oral medication for children and adults who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The drug is unique among ADHD medications in that it is not considered a stimulant, and therefore carries far fewer health risks and no potential for addiction. A physician or psychiatrist can determine an individual's need for Strattera® by carefully examining ADHD symptoms and asking questions about the patient's medical history. It typically is important to carefully follow the doctor's recommendations about dosage and use of the drug to ensure its effectiveness.

The active ingredient in Strattera® is a chemical compound known as atomoxetine hydrochloride. The chemical acts as a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, meaning that it helps to keep norepinephrine levels high in the body. Norepinephrine is an important hormone that helps to increase attention, reduce anxiety, and calm nerves. Many people with ADHD begin to concentrate better and feel calmer after taking daily doses of Strattera® for four to six weeks.

It is possible for a patient taking Strattera® to experience side effects, though the effects are usually mild and short-lived. The most common side effects in both children and adults include dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, and dry mouth. Some adults experience insomnia and sexual side effects. In rare cases, people can suffer from mood swings, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Anyone who experiences severe side effects or an allergic reaction to Strattera®, should stop taking the drug and visit a physician as soon as possible.

Strattera® is prescribed in a small initial dosage that is gradually increased over the course of several weeks, according to a patient's weight and age. Increasing the dosage gradually gives the body time to adjust to the new medication and reduces the chance of serious side effects. A doctor can monitor the effects of different doses to determine a patient's target dose – the amount that maximizes effectiveness and minimizes negative reactions.

People who are interested in finding out if Strattera® is a good option for themselves or their children should talk to their doctor. Adverse reactions with other medications are possible, so it is essential for an individual to inform the doctor of any other drugs he or she is currently taking. It also can be important to explain any past medical problems, such as liver disease, congenital heart defects, and blood pressure issues so that the doctor can make an informed decision about prescribing the drug.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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