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Which non-stimulant ADHD medication should I take?

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: May 8, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

Table of contents

Stimulant medications are popular for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but side effects include restlessness and anxiety. Fortunately, non-stimulant ADHD medications deliver results without those side effects. If you suffer from ADHD, you might ask yourself, “Which non-stimulant ADHD medication should I take?” 

In this article, we dive into the different non-stimulant ADHD medications, what side effects you can expect, and how much they cost.

Book an appointment with an ADHD expert on Klarity to find out which medication is right for you. On Klarity, you can receive affordable, personalized, convenient ADHD treatment from a licensed healthcare provider. 

What is non-stimulant ADHD medication?

Unlike stimulants, which work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, non-stimulant medications take a different approach. These medications typically target different neurotransmitters or brain receptors to manage ADHD symptoms effectively. Examples include atomoxetine (Strattera), guanfacine (Intuniv), and clonidine (Kapvay). Non-stimulant ADHD medications can be particularly beneficial for individuals who don’t respond well to stimulants or experience intolerable side effects. 

Stimulant vs. non-stimulant ADHD medication: what is the difference? 

ADHD medications come in 2 forms, stimulant and non-stimulant. Both forms have benefits and disadvantages. If you have ADHD, stimulant drugs may be prescribed first because they tend to work for many people. That said, they may not always manage your symptoms effectively. 

Non-stimulant medications aren’t used as often, but they can be an effective alternative that improves overall concentration and impulse control. One of the key advantages of non-stimulant ADHD medication is the reduced risk of addiction. 

Though they’re carefully controlled and monitored, stimulant medications always carry some risk of addiction, especially if you have a history of substance use disorders. Non-stimulants offer symptom regulation without the same addictive qualities, ensuring you can get the treatment you need without worrying about how it might lead to a more severe problem.

Who are non-stimulant ADHD medications best for? 

These medications are often best suited for individuals who don’t respond well to stimulant medications or experience intolerable side effects. If you’ve tried stimulants in the past and found them ineffective or if you’ve had adverse reactions, non-stimulant ADHD medications could offer an alternative treatment option. Additionally, non-stimulant medications may be preferred for those with certain medical conditions or substance use disorders that make stimulants less suitable. 

Non-stimulant Strattera for ADHD

Strattera is the brand name for atomoxetine, a medication used to treat ADHD. It’s often used as part of a treatment plan that includes talk therapy. It was the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved non-stimulant medication for the treatment of ADHD, and it’s recognized as an effective alternative to drugs like Adderall and Ritalin

Strattera requires a prescription. It must be used with the guidance of a medical professional to avoid substance abuse or monitor for unpleasant side effects.

How does Strattera work?

Strattera is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which means it raises norepinephrine activity in the brain. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that affects arousal, attention, cognitive function, and stress reactions. By increasing norepinephrine, Strattera can help improve your attention and curb impulsive behavior. 

Strattera may also raise dopamine levels in your brain, which is another chemical that typically fluctuates and causes many of the same symptoms as ADHD.

How long does Strattera last in the body?

Strattera stays in the body for up to 24 hours. Depending on your age, weight, and the severity of your ADHD symptoms, you may need 1 or 2 doses of Strattera each day.

If you require 2 doses, the first dose is best taken first thing in the morning, and the second dose is best taken in the late afternoon/early evening as the first dose wears off. This ensures that Strattera’s benefits last throughout the day while letting you avoid any insomnia that could result from taking it late at night. 

What are the side effects of Strattera?

Strattera has many of the same side effects as other ADHD medications. If you’re taking Strattera, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience every side effect, and you may experience certain side effects differently from others. 

Some of the most common side effects of this non-stimulant ADHD medication include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decrease in sexual ability/desire
  • High blood pressure

How much does Strattera cost?

The cost of Strattera varies depending on the dosage and the number of capsules purchased. The generic formula, atomoxetine, can cost as little as $137 for 3010 milligram capsules. Most health insurance companies cover the cost of generic Strattera.

Licensed providers on Klarity provide personalized treatment. Find a provider that matches your needs and preferences.

Wellbutrin for ADHD

Wellbutrin, known in its generic form as bupropion, is an antidepressant primarily prescribed for treating depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It can be used off-label to treat ADHD. 

When a healthcare provider prescribes a medication that can be beneficial for treating ADHD but isn’t approved by the FDA to treat ADHD, that’s considered off-label use. 

How does Wellbutrin work?

Wellbutrin increases norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, 2 chemicals associated with mood. This chemical increase and boost in mood can help improve your focus and impulsivity. Wellbutrin may be prescribed if you don’t tolerate stimulants well or if you have another medical condition that prevents you from safely taking stimulant medication.

How long does Wellbutrin last in the body?

Wellbutrin comes as a tablet or extended-release tablet. It stays in the body for about 4 days. Your dose will depend on your health history, current symptoms, and the recommendation of your healthcare provider. It can take time to feel the effects of Wellbutrin, so you can expect to wait at least 4 weeks or longer before you’re experiencing the full benefits of the medication. It’s important to take it as prescribed.

What are the side effects of Wellbutrin?

While everyone experiences side effects differently, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately if any of your symptoms worsen or persist without going away.

Common side effects of Wellbutrin include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Excitement
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Changes to your sense of taste
  • Frequent urination
  • Sore throat

How much does Wellbutrin cost?

Generic bupropion costs as little as $17 for 30 tablets. Brand name Wellbutrin XL can cost between $2,100 and $2,700 for 30 tablets while Wellbutrin SR costs between $500 and $900 for 60 tablets, which may last 1 or 2 months.Your insurance provider may cover the cost of the medication, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time to determine how much you’ll have to pay. 

Intuniv for ADHD

Intuniv is the brand name of guanfacine. It’s alpha-2 adrenergic agonist medication that can be used to treat ADHD. Similar to Strattera, this non-stimulant medication is often used in conjunction with other psychological, educational, and social treatments.

How does Intuniv work?

It’s unclear exactly how Intuniv works to lessen ADHD symptoms, but it’s believed to affect receptors in the brain and strengthen memory, reduce distraction, and help with impulse control. While multiple forms of guanfacine are available by prescription, Intuniv is the only formula approved to treat ADHD.

How long does Intuniv last?

Intuniv lasts all day and is taken orally in either the morning or evening. Your dosage may be increased as you adjust to the medication’s effects, but you’ll still take it once a day..

What are the side effects of Intuniv?

Intuniv has fewer side effects than Strattera and other ADHD medications.

Some of the most common Intuniv side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Slow heart rate
  • Irritability

Intuniv is well-tolerated by most patients and doesn’t usually produce serious side effects. However, if you experience severe dizziness, slow heartbeat, fainting, or severe mood changes, contact your healthcare provider or call 911 immediately.

How much does Intuniv cost?

Generic guanfacine is significantly cheaper than brand-name Intuniv.. For a 1 milligram dosage, 30 tablets of guanfacine cost as little as $19, while 100 tablets of a 4 milligram dosage of brand-name Intuniv can cost as much as $1,032.

Kapvay for ADHD

Kapvay is the brand name for clonidine ER, which is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist like Intuniv. It can be used either alone or as part of a treatment plan. Kapvay is less popular than similar drugs because it’s typically more expensive.

How does Kapvay work?

Like Intuniv, it isn’t clear how Kapvay works to treat ADHD. The medication affects certain receptors in the brain, and it’s believed that these receptors manage the behaviors associated with ADHD symptoms. Its non-stimulant composition makes it favorable for children and adolescents, but it can also be prescribed for adults.

How long does Kapvay last in the body?

Kapvay is an extended-release non-stimulant ADHD medication, so one dosage should last all day, but it can be taken twice daily if needed. Kapvay is prescribed in a very small 0.1-milligram dosage and shouldn’t be taken more than twice a day to help prevent severe side effects and potential dependence on the drug.

What are the side effects of Kapvay?

Kapvay has many of the same side effects as Intuniv, as it falls under the same class of drugs. Allergic reactions to Kapvay are rare, and very few people report experiencing serious side effects. 

Some of the most common side effects when taking Kapvay include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness
  • Change in mood
  • Increased body temperature
  • Ear pain

To reduce the risk of lightheadedness and dizziness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position. If you experience dry mouth from taking Kapvay, suck on sugarless lozenges or ice chips, drink water, or use a saliva substitute. 

How much does Kapvay cost?

The brand name Kapvay can be expensive, but the generic clonidine ER is usually a less expensive alternative. The 30 clonidine ER tablets can cost as little as as $52, while 60 tablets of brand name Kapvay may cost as much as $567. This non-stimulant ADHD medication is covered by a majority of health insurance providers, and it’s possible to reduce the price through using coupons or discounts.

Qelbree for ADHD

Qelbree, the brand name version of viloxazine, is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) often used as a part of a treatment plan that includes behavioral therapy. Qelbree is only effective in treating children and adolescents ages 6 to 17, so it’s not recommended for adults.

How does Qelbree work?

Like Strattera, Qelbree works by adjusting how the brain uses the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, often resulting in increased focus, reduced impulsivity, and regulation of many other ADHD-related symptoms. 

How long does Qelbree last in the body?

One capsule of Qelbree lasts all day, and the dosage can be adjusted depending on how you react to the medication. Qelbree’s starting dose is typically 100 milligrams, but it can be raised to a maximum 400-milligram dose if needed. If you have kidney problems, this dosage will have to be carefully managed to prevent any complications.

What are the side effects of Qelbree?

Qelbree has minimal side effects, which makes it a generally safe non-stimulant ADHD medication compared to some others. That said, the side effects it does have could become more serious and should be carefully monitored. If you have severe side effects like a fast heartbeat or you experience an allergic reaction such as trouble breathing or rash, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

The most common side effects of Qelbree include:

  • Tiredness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability

How much does Qelbree cost?

Qelbree doesn’t have a generic alternative, which makes it less flexible in cost when compared to similar ADHD medications. Prices for Qelbree run approximately $384 for 30 of the 100 milligram capsules and $759 for 60 of the 200 milligram capsules as of the time of publication.. 

Which is the best non-stimulant ADHD medication for you?

Of the non-stimulant ADHD medications listed above, Strattera is the one most often prescribed. If your ADHD symptoms haven’t responded to stimulant medication, it’s been found to be helpful in treating all subtypes of ADHD. 

Although Strattera may be more widely used, it may not be the right medication for you. To get the non-stimulant medication that’s right for you, speak to a healthcare provider about your symptoms, medical history, and allergies.

How Klarity lets you find the right ADHD provider and medication

Klarity can connect you with licensed healthcare providers who specialize in personalized ADHD treatment and non-stimulant ADHD medications. 

ADHD can be disruptive, but you don’t have to manage your symptoms alone. Book an appointment with an ADHD expert on the Klarity platform today.


Child Mind Institute, “What Are Nonstimulant Medications for ADHD?,” Caroline Miller, January 26, 2023,

GoodRX, “5 Non-Stimulant ADHD Medications: Strattera, Intuniv, and More,” Mandeep Sohal, December 14, 2023,

WebMD, “Nonstimulant Therapy and Other ADHD Drugs,” Smitha Bhandari, July 20, 2023,

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