What Are Non-Stimulant ADHD Medications?
There are three types of non-stimulant ADHD medication: antidepressants, blood pressure medicine, and non-stimulants specifically made to treat ADHD.
Antidepressants for ADHD Treatment
Despite their name, antidepressants can help manage ADHD symptoms. They also help manage anxiety and depression, which are coexisting conditions at least one-third of ADHDers have.
While anti-depressants are not the best way to treat ADHD, they can be your next best option if you don’t respond well to stimulants.
Unlike stimulants, antidepressants have a low potential for abuse and addiction. They also don’t cause weight loss or disrupt growth. Antidepressants boost the amount of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in your brain essential for self-control.
List of antidepressants include Amoxapine, Desipramine (Norpramin), Doxepin, Imipramine (Tofranil), Nortriptyline (Pamelor), Protriptyline (Vivactil), Trimipramine (Surmontil), Maprotiline, and Bupropion (Wellbutrin).
Depending on your situation, taking antidepressants may not be an option in the following situations:
- You have a history or a tendency toward manic behavior or manic depression (bipolar disorder).
- You have taken an inhibitor antidepressant, like phenelzine (Nardil) or tranylcypromine (Parnate), within the last 14 days.
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin) can't be taken if you have any history of seizures or epilepsy.
Side Effects of Antidepressants
The most notable and reported common side effects of using antidepressants may include:
- Trouble peeing
- Blurred vision
- Low/high blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain/loss
- Stomach problems
A rare side effect of using antidepressants are heart defects.
Blood Pressure Medications Used to Treat ADHD
Stimulants are the first thing specialists will recommend if you want to treat your ADHD with medication. However, not everyone will respond well stimulants. In that case, certain blood pressure medications can be used instead.
ADHDers who take blood pressure medication appear calmer and have less severe ADHD symptoms. As of this writing, it is unknown how blood pressure medication causes this result.
Not all blood pressure medications can treat ADHD. And those you can use don’t treat all symptoms like a stimulant would.
Blood pressure medications you can use to treat ADHD include:
- Guanfacine (i.e., Intuniv, Tenex). These medications are tablets and improve the following symptoms: Memory, Attention, Focus, and Impulsivity.
- Clonidine (i.e., Catapres, Kapvay). Kapvay comes in a tablet, while Catapres comes in as a patch. Both Improve the following symptoms: aggression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and tics.
At the moment, Catapres is not approved for treatment of ADHD but is an acceptable alternative by many specialists.
As you can see, both medications improve different symptoms. The exception is they both help with hyperactivity.
Side Effects of Blood Pressure Medication
The most well-known common side effects of taking blood pressure medication may include:
- Dry mouth
- Sinus congestion
- Higher heartbeat
- Blurry vision
The rarer side effects of taking blood pressure medication may include a higher heartbeat and/or low blood pressure.
There have been “some” (the exact number isn’t out yet) deaths in children who took blood pressure medication with stimulants. It’s “unknown” whether the deaths are from taking both medications at the same time. The risk is there though.
You should not take blood pressure medication if your family has a history of low blood pressure or heart problems.