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ADHD

19 min read

Qelbree side effects: risks, interactions, and more

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: May 29, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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Qelbree (viloxazine), is a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manage symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s an alternative to traditional stimulant medications for ADHD like Adderall. But while it’s effective for relieving ADHD symptoms, like hyperactivity or impulsivity, it does have side effects. 

In this article, we cover the potential Qelbree side effects so you know what to look out for or expect if you and your provider decide Qelbree is the right choice for you. 

Looking for a licensed provider who can prescribe Qelbree to treat your ADHD symptoms and help you understand and manage side effects? Find an ADHD provider on Klarity and have an appointment in as little as 24 hours. 

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What are Qelbree side effects?

Qelbree is a medication approved for the treatment of ADHD. In trials, it’s been shown to be effective in managing challenging ADHD symptoms in adults and children. But like any medication, it has potential side effects. Being informed about these side effects is important if you and your provider are considering Qelbree as a treatment option. 

Not everyone who takes Qelbree has side effects, and their severity varies among individuals. If you’re considering Qelbree as a treatment for ADHD or have concerns about side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized guidance, monitor your progress, and make any needed adjustments to your dose and treatment plan.

Common Qelbree side effects for adults

The more common Qelbree ADHD side effects for adults include the following.

Insomnia

Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, is one of the most common side effects of Qelbree for adults. It goes away with time for some people, while not for others. Sleep deprivation can make ADHD symptoms worse, so talk to your provider if Qelbree starts or continues to cause insomnia even after your body has adjusted to the dosage. 

Sleepiness and tiredness

One of the most frequently reported side effects of Qelbree is sleepiness and tiredness. Some individuals, particularly when starting Qelbree or adjusting their dosage, experience drowsiness. It’s important to exercise caution when engaging in activities that require alertness if Qelbree makes you sleepy, such as driving or operating machinery. It’s not uncommon for sleepiness to diminish over time as your body adjusts to Qelbree.

Nausea 

Some people have nausea or discomfort in the stomach when taking Qelbree. This gastrointestinal symptom can be uncomfortable but often improves with continued use of Qelbree. Taking Qelbree with food might help reduce or prevent nausea.

Headache

Another mild side effect of Qelbree is headaches, which can happen as your body adjusts to the medication. If you have headaches that continue or hurt your ability to function, let your healthcare provider know.

Dry mouth

Dry mouth is a commonly reported side effect of taking Qelbree for ADHD. Staying well-hydrated and drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day can help alleviate dry mouth.

Decreased appetite 

Qelbree can cause decreased appetite. This can lead to a reduced desire for food, which may result in eating fewer calories. The decreased appetite associated with Qelbree may contribute to potential weight management benefits or problems for some individuals.

Constipation

Adults who take Qelbree may experience constipation on top of other gastrointestinal issues, like nausea and decreased appetite. Constipation can also occur when stopping treatment with Qelbree.

Worsened anxiety

For individuals with ADHD who also struggle with anxiety, treatment options are available. Qelbree offers an alternative to stimulant medications, which can increase anxiety in some people. However, while Qelbree is designed to minimize the risk of increasing anxiety symptoms, there have been instances where people reported increased anxiety as a side effect of taking it. 

If you experience heightened anxiety while taking Qelbree, contact your healthcare provider. They may need to adjust your dosage or look at an alternative medication.

Upper respiratory tract infection

Clinical trials and patient reports found that some people taking Qelbree experienced symptoms consistent with respiratory infections, such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, or a runny nose. While these symptoms are typically mild to moderate, they can be bothersome. 

If you’re taking Qelbree, monitor yourself for signs of respiratory issues and consult your healthcare provider if symptoms persist or get worse to make sure any complications are quickly addressed.

Serious Quelbree ADHD side effects

In addition to the common and mild side effects listed above, Qelbree also carries the risk of more serious side effects that may make it difficult or dangerous to continue taking it. If you notice any of these serious side effects, let your healthcare provider know immediately. 

Increased blood pressure and heart rate

Qelbree can cause an increase in heart rate in some people, including children and adults. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may monitor your symptoms before and while taking Qelbree, or recommend another medication altogether. 

Irritability and/or manic episodes

For some people, taking Qelbree causes fluctuations in mood and behavior, which may include heightened irritability or alterations in how they conduct themselves. It can also cause manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder. 

If you have any of the following symptoms while taking Qelbree, contact your provider: 

  • Significantly increased energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Unusually grand ideas
  • Talking more or faster than usual
  • Significant trouble sleeping
  • Reckless behavior
  • Feeling excessively happy or irritable

Always maintain transparent and ongoing communication with your healthcare provider, and contact them immediately if you have any notable shifts in mood or behavior.

Qelbree ADHD side effects in adults vs children

Qelbree is approved to treat ADHD in both adults and children above the age of 6. Most of the Qelbree side effects that affect adults also affect children.  

The most common side effects of Qelbree for children and teens aged 6 to 17 include:

  • Sleepiness and tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping

Adults can also experience many of these side effects. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the most common Qelbree side effects for adults and for children.

Qelbree side effects for children 6 to 17Qelbree side effects for adults 18+
SleepinessSleepiness
Feeling tiredFeeling tired
VomitingConstipation
NauseaNausea
Decreased appetiteDecreased appetite
Trouble sleepingInsomnia/Trouble sleeping
IrritabilityHeadache
Dry mouth

How long do Qelbree side effects last?

The duration of side effects for Qelbree isn’t uniform and can vary from person to person. Some people can experience side effects when they first start taking Qelbree, with side effects gradually improving or disappearing with continued use. For example, drowsiness or nausea may be more pronounced when first beginning Qelbree but may not be bothersome over time as your body adapts to it.

Not all side effects follow the same pattern. Some side effects may persist, while others may resolve quickly. If you experience side effects that last or are particularly concerning, talk to your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your specific situation, monitor your progress, and offer guidance on how to manage or mitigate any side effects that may affect you.

Qelbree warnings

Like many other antidepressant medications, Qelbree comes with a boxed warning for suicidal thoughts. In studies, around 0.9% of children and 1.6% of adults treated with Qelbree reported suicidal thoughts, behaviors, or both. If you take Qelbree and notice yourself having thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm, tell your therapist or psychiatrist right away. 

Qelbree drug interactions

Certain drug interactions can alter how Qelbree works in your body. In some cases, these interactions can heighten the effects of Qelbree, leading to an increased risk of side effects or adverse reactions. Interactions with other medications may also diminish the intended effects of Qelbree, potentially reducing its effectiveness in managing ADHD symptoms.

Some of the medications that can interact with Qelbree include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of antidepressant. You don’t want to take Qelbree if you’ve taken an MAOI medication in the past 2 weeks. The interaction between the 2 medications can cause life-threatening complications.
  • Sensitive CYP1A2 substrates or CYP1A2 substrates that have a narrow therapeutic range: These are medications that can be broken down by certain enzymes in the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2, or CYP1A2). The active ingredient in Qelbree inhibits this enzyme, so you don’t take these types of medications while on Qelbree.

To ensure your safety and the effectiveness of your treatment, give your healthcare provider a list of all the medications and supplements you take. They can then assess potential interactions and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan to optimize your ADHD management.

The benefits of using Qelbree to treat ADHD symptoms

Qelbree is shown to be effective in improving the lives of people dealing with ADHD by addressing key symptoms. Several randomized controlled trials found Qelbree to significantly reduce ADHD symptoms for children aged 6 to 11, teens aged 12 to 17, and adults aged 18 to 65. The studies found that Qelbree was effective regardless of race and sex.

Some of the benefits associated with using Qelbree as a treatment for ADHD include:

  • Improved focus: Qelbree enhances the ability to concentrate and maintain attention, a crucial aspect of managing ADHD. Individuals may find it easier to stay engaged in tasks and activities that require sustained focus.
  • Enhanced impulse control: Impulsivity is a common symptom of ADHD. Qelbree may help you exercise better control over your impulses and make it easier to think before acting.
  • Reduced hyperactivity: Another hallmark of ADHD is hyperactivity. Qelbree can help reduce hyperactive behaviors, so you can function more calmly and effectively in your daily life.

It’s important to note that the benefits of Qelbree vary among individuals. Response to medication is individualized, and what works well for one person may not for another. Discuss your specific needs and goals with your healthcare provider. Together, you can decide whether Qelbree is an appropriate treatment option and set realistic expectations for the improvement of your ADHD symptoms.

Explore ADHD treatment with Qelbree — find a provider on Klarity today

If you’re considering Qelbree as a treatment for your ADHD or have questions about its benefits and potential side effects, talk to a healthcare provider. You can find licensed providers for initial consultation and ongoing follow-ups online or in person on Klarity.

Don’t wait. Find a provider on Klarity today to learn if Qelbree is right for you.

FAQs about Qelbree ADHD side effects in adults

Can you overdose on Qelbree?

Taking more Qelbree than prescribed can be harmful and lead to an overdose. An overdose occurs when an excessive amount of medication is ingested, and can have serious, lasting health consequences.

There are post-market reports of people overdosing by taking 1000 milligrams to 6500 milligrams of Qelbree. This is 1.7 to 10.8 times the maximum recommended dose. 

If you suspect that you or someone you know has taken a larger dose of Qelbree than prescribed, seek immediate medical attention. Overdose symptoms can vary but may include severe drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, changes in heart rate, agitation, confusion, and even loss of consciousness. Prompt medical intervention is essential to address the overdose and provide appropriate treatment.

Does Qelbree cause weight gain?

Weight changes are a notable consideration when using new medications, especially for individuals with ADHD. In the case of Qelbree, it’s commonly associated with a decrease in appetite, which can lead to weight loss.

It’s important to note that weight gain isn’t a typical side effect of Qelbree. Its mechanism of action, which includes reducing appetite in some individuals, often results in the opposite effect — weight loss. However, individual responses to medications can vary, and some patients may experience different effects.

If you have concerns about changes in body weight while taking Qelbree, discuss them with your healthcare provider. 

How is Qelbree different from Adderall?

Qelbree and Adderall are both medications used to manage ADHD, but they have different mechanisms of action and potential side effect profiles. Adderall is a stimulant vs non-stimulant Qelbree. Understanding the distinction between the 2 medications can help you and your healthcare providers make an informed decision about which one may be more suitable for your specific needs.

  • Qelbree: Qelbree contains the active ingredient viloxazine hydrochloride and is classified as a non-stimulant medication. It primarily works by increasing the availability of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as norepinephrine. This non-stimulant approach is especially beneficial for individuals who don’t tolerate or respond well to stimulant medications.
  • Adderall: Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), is a stimulant medication that contains a combination of amphetamine salts. It works by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Adderall is known for its stimulant properties, which can increase alertness and focus. However, it also has a different set of potential side effects, including the possibility of increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.

Who is a good candidate for Qelbree?

Individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are exploring non-stimulant ADHD medication options may find Qelbree an appropriate choice, particularly those who haven’t tolerated stimulant medications well or have personal or medical reasons for avoiding stimulants. 

Qelbree is often recommended for patients with a history of substance issues or for those who have coexisting anxiety, which stimulants may aggravate. Additionally, patients concerned about the cardiovascular effects associated with stimulants may opt for Qelbree as a safer alternative. 

Determining the suitability of Qelbree for you requires a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider to weigh potential benefits against possible risks and contraindications.

Who should avoid taking Qelbree?

While Qelbree can be an effective option for managing ADHD symptoms, it may not be appropriate for everyone. Some people should use caution or avoid taking Qelbree altogether, including those with a history of suicidal thoughts or behavior. There is a boxed warning for Qelbree indicating an increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior, especially during the initial months of treatment. Careful monitoring is essential when starting this medication.

Qelbree isn’t advised for individuals who take certain medications, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and certain CYP1A2 substrates. Pregnant individuals or those with a history of hypersensitivity to the active ingredients in Qelbree should also refrain from its use. 

Additionally, people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or have a family history of this mental health condition or suicidal tendencies should be extra cautious as Qelbree could potentially trigger manic or hypomanic episodes. It’s important to fully disclose your medical history and discuss the risks versus benefits of any new medication with your provider. 

Patients considering Qelbree for ADHD management should also discuss their cardiovascular health with their healthcare provider, as this medication may lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, warranting close monitoring for those with hypertension or other heart conditions. 

Because kidney function can influence Qelbree’s dosing and safety profile, individuals with severe kidney problems should also consult their healthcare provider before using Qelbree. There are separate dosing recommendations for people who have kidney impairment.

Sources

DailyMed, LABEL: QELBREE- viloxazine hydrochloride capsule, extended release, Dec. 2023, https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=aedf408d-0f84-418d-9416-7c39ddb0d29a

Qelbree, Qelbree can help control your ADHD symptoms, https://www.qelbree.com/adults

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

If you’re having a mental health crisis or experiencing a psychiatric emergency, it’s crucial to seek immediate help from a mental healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. You can also call your local emergency services, visit your nearest emergency room, or contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by calling or texting 988 or dialing the Lifeline’s previous phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) in the U.S.

How we reviewed this article: This article goes through rigorous fact-checking by a team of medical reviewers. Reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the author.

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All professional services are provided by independent private practices via the Klarity technology platform. Klarity Health, Inc. does not provide any medical services.
If you’re having an emergency or in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help: Emergency: Call 911. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 988. Crisis Text Line: Text Home to 741-741
Fax:
(855) 975-3008

PO Box 5098 Redwood City, CA 94063

100 Broadway Street, Redwood City CA, 94063

If you’re having an emergency or in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help: Emergency: Call 911. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 988. Crisis Text Line: Text Home to 741-741
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