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ADHD

13 min read

Vyvanse vs. Strattera

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Sep 23, 2022

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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When choosing between stimulant and non-stimulant ADHD medication, it can be hard to determine which kind will have the most effect with the fewest side effects. For instance, Vyvanse and Strattera are prescription medications used to manage the symptoms of ADHD. Both drugs make it easier to concentrate, listen to others during conversations, finish tasks, and enjoy better sleeping and eating cycles. 

However, Vyvanse is a stimulant medication, while Strattera is a non-stimulant medication. Vyvanse works by stimulating the central nervous system to produce more dopamine and norepinephrine, while Strattera simply prevents norepinephrine from being reabsorbed. Some individuals react better to one kind of medication over the other. 

Below is a comprehensive comparison guide for these medications to help you understand the differences between them and choose what works best for you. 
At Klarity, our streamlined process ensures that you can connect with a knowledgeable professional within 48 hours, allowing you to get the answers and guidance you need to find the right medication. Schedule an appointment with a licensed medical professional today.

VyvanseStrattera
Drug ClassSchedule II stimulantSelective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
Brand / Generic StatusBrand name (no generic)Brand name for atomoxetine
Form(s) of the Drug• Extended-release capsules*
• Extended-release chewable tablets


*Capsules should not be crushed or chewed
Capsules

Capsules should not be crushed or chewed

Standard Dosage5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and 70 mg capsules OR chewable tablets
Capsules
• 10mg to 100mg


Conditions TreatedFDA-approved for:
• ADHD,
• Binge-eating disorder

Off-label uses:
• N narcolepsy,
• bBinge-eating disorde
FDA-approved uses:
• ADHD

Off-label uses:
• Depression
CostBrand-name:
• $400 to $450 for 30 days of 30mg capsules or chewable tablets
Generic form (atomoxetine):
• $44 for 7 10mg capsules
• $1,501 for 90 100mg capsules*

*Insurance may significantly lower the price

Brand-name:
• $420 to $448 for a 30-day supply
Side-EffectsCommon side effects:
• Anxiety
• Diarrhea
• Dizziness
• Dry mouth
• Irritability
• Nausea
• Trouble sleeping
• Vomiting
• Weight loss
• Upper stomach pain

Serious side effects:
• Blurred vision
• Irregular or fast heartbeat
• Muscle twitching
• Uncontrolled movements
• Blood flow problems in the fingers and toes
• Swelling in the ankles and feet
• Rapid and unexplained weight loss
• Mood changes, including aggression and depression
Common side effects:
• Upset stomach
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Constipation
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Tiredness
• Trouble sleeping
• Decrease in sexual desire

Serious side effects:
• Irregular heartbeat
• Fainting
• Numbness
• Difficulty urinating
Warnings For UseContraindicated for:
• History of substance abuse
• Heart abnormalities
• Circulation issues
• Mental health issues
Warnings:
• Potentially addictive
• Overuse may cause serotonin syndrome

Drug interactions:
• MOA inhibitors
• Some blood pressure medications
• Some antidepressants
• Albuterol

What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse (active ingredient: lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It does so by targeting the neurotransmitters in the brain that control behaviors like focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Vyvanse was approved for use by the FDA in 2007 and is a federally scheduled controlled substance, although it is not considered a narcotic.

Forms and Dosages

Vyvanse is known as a prodrug, i.e., a medication that does not become activated in the body until it is processed by the liver. Because it takes longer to be processed in the body and because it does not become activated until it filters first through the liver, Vyvanse has a lower risk of abuse and addiction especially compared to similar medications like Ritalin and Adderall. 

Vyvanse comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and the max dosage of 70 mg. It also comes in chewable tablets in the same dosages. Vyvanse is taken after eating breakfast since it is an appetite suppressant.

Do not take Vyvanse anytime after 12 PM as it can interfere with normal sleeping patterns. Do not crush or chew Vyvanse capsules. Doing so can result in a dangerous condition known as “serotonin syndrome.” Serotonin syndrome occurs when the brain is flooded with serotonin and can result in seizures, heart attacks, and even death.

Conditions Treated

Vyvanse is FDA-approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and binge eating disorder.

Costs

Vyvanse is not in generic form yet and remains one of the costlier ADHD medications on the market. For a one-month supply of Vyvanse outside of a health insurance plan, you may be spending upwards of $400 to $450 for a prescription of 30 mg capsules. For accurate information on what this medication costs under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department.

Side Effects

For most people taking Vyvanse, side effects are a non-factor. Vyvanse has more of a subtle effect than many ADHD medications because of its unique delivery mechanism. Some of the common side effects of Vyvanse include (but are not limited to):

  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Upper stomach pain

Less common but more severe side effects of Vyvanse include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Muscle twitching
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Blood flow problems in the fingers and toes
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss
  • Mood changes, including aggression and depression

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Dependency warning: Although not deemed a narcotic, Vyvanse is a Schedule II stimulant, which is a federally controlled substance, and has the significant potential for addiction and abuse. Those with a history of substance abuse should disclose this information to their healthcare provider before taking this medication.

Vyvanse should only be used with a valid prescription and under careful supervision from a healthcare professional. Misusing the medication, such as taking higher doses than prescribed or taking it more frequently than recommended, can lead to severe health complications. These may include physical dependence, heart-related issues, psychological disorders, and, in extreme cases, death.

To ensure effective and safe treatment, it is essential to adhere strictly to the prescribed usage guidelines for Vyvanse and maintain regular communication with your healthcare provider regarding any side effects or concerns that arise during the course of treatment.

If you are experiencing or have experienced any of the following conditions, speak with your ADHD healthcare provider before taking Vyvanse:

  • Heart abnormalities
  • Circulation issues
  • Mental health issues
  • History of substance abuse

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

What is Strattera?

Strattera (active ingredient: atomoxetine hydrochloride) is an ADHD medication that is also classified as an SNRI or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. SNRIs help keep more norepinephrine available, which results in improved focus and concentration. Strattera is a non-stimulant and is not considered a controlled substance by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Strattera is the first non-stimulant ADHD medication approved by the FDA and is the first non-stimulant ADHD medication approved for use in adults. 

Forms and Dosages

Strattera comes in 10 mg, 18 mg, 25 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, and 100 mg dosages. It is not in generic form yet and is only available as a brand-name drug. This medication is to be taken 1-2 times per day with or without food. Strattera normally reaches max absorption within 1-2 hours after being ingested. It takes 1-2 weeks before Strattera reaches full concentration in the body.

Conditions Treated

Strattera is FDA approved and primarily used to treat ADHD but may have applications in other areas.

Costs

A 30-day supply of 10 mg Strattera capsules is approximately $400 to $450 for “out-of-pocket” expenses. This price can fluctuate depending on where you purchase the medication. For accurate pricing under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department. 

Side Effects

Common side effects of Strattera include but are not limited to:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Xerostomia

Less common side effects include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Dizziness
  • Ejaculation failure
  • Dyspepsia
  • Diaphoresis
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Dermatitis
  • Weight loss

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Unlike Vyvanse, Strattera is not a controlled substance or a stimulant medication, meaning it carries a very low risk for abuse or dependence. Strattera is often recommended as an alternative medication for those with a history of substance use disorder.

If you take antidepressants like Prozac, Lexapro, or Abilify, speak with your healthcare provider before taking this medication, as it may cause dangerous drug interactions. If you experience any of the following issues, discuss them with your healthcare provider before taking Strattera:

  • Cardiac issues
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypertension
  • Liver disease
  • Seizure disorders
  • Mental health issues

Risk of serotonin syndrome: Serotonin syndrome is a potentially serious condition that can occur when taking Strattera, characterized by an excess accumulation of serotonin in the body. It is essential to be aware of the symptoms, as early recognition is crucial for prompt medical intervention. 

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include:

  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors or muscle rigidity
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms while taking Strattera, it is important to seek immediate medical attention, as prompt treatment can help prevent complications and ensure your safety.

Which Will Effectively Treat Your ADHD?

Depending on your specific ADHD condition, either Vyvanse or Strattera may be beneficial for your disorder. To discover which may be best for you, speak with an ADHD specialist who can weigh your condition and medical history before prescribing an ADHD medication. 

Discover the Right ADHD Medication with Klarity

If you’re looking for guidance on whether Vyvanse or Strattera is right for treating your ADHD, Klarity is here to help. Our platform connects you with certified healthcare providers qualified to diagnose and treat ADHD. They’ll work with you to find the most suitable prescription medication for your needs.

Additionally, our streamlined telehealth process ensures you can quickly access the care you need 100% online. With Klarity, you’ll receive personalized support and the necessary information to make an informed choice about Vyvanse, Strattera, or other ADHD treatment options—all from the comfort of home.

Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider in your state today!

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