According to the CDC, 4.6 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. As more medications are produced to combat this rather widespread mental disorder, it can be hard to tell which medication is right for you or your loved ones. Here we will compare two of the more prominent medications used to treat ADHD sypmtoms: Adderall and Strattera. We will outline the the effectiveness of each drug and any potential side effects, as well as groups who should avoid drugs such as these.

Strattera and Adderall are medications commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They’re both designed to help improve your attention span while decreasing hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Though no side-by-side studies have been conducted into the effectiveness of one drug over the other, both are shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD. Although they’re both used primarily for treatment of ADHD, these are two very different types of medication. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Strattera is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor containing atomoxetine hydrochloride. Each medication comes with it's own risks and side effects. Interactions with other drugs can also change how the medications work. Therefore it is important to keep your doctor informed to any and all medications, supplements or vitamins you are taking, in order to avoid potential interactions.

Adderall is classified as a controlled substance by the federal government, as it is a habit forming amphetamine. It has more of a tendency to be abused, and therefore it's use should be monitored carefully. Potential side effects with stimulant drugs like Adderall include dizziness, headache, dry mouth, loss of appetite, weight loss, mood swings, nervousness, and insomnia. More potentially serious side effects have also been noted with the use of Adderall, including high blood pressure, increased heart rate, circulation problems, blurred vision, and slowed growth in children. In rare cases, Adderall has been linked to risk of seizures, stroke, heart attack, and new or worsening psychiatric problems.

Because of it's health risks and drug interactions, there are many people who should avoid taking Adderall. These groups include those that have recently taken MAOI inhibitors, those who suffer from anxiety and those who have a history of substance abuse. Additionally, Adderall is not recommended for those that have heart disease, hardening of the arteries, or high blood pressure. Those with hyperthyroidism or glaucoma should also avoid taking Adderall.

Overdosing on Adderall can cause tremors, confusion, and psychosis. It can lead to cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal problems, or even death. Should you wish to stop taking Adderall, talk to your doctor about how to do so safely, as there are withdrawal symptoms. These include depression, sleep problems, and extreme fatigue, and are less likely to happen if you are taking your medication as directed.

In general, Strattera's side effects are more mild than those of it's stimulant counterpart. Although, according to DailyMed, short-term clinical trials have shown that Strattera increases the risk of suicidal thoughts in children and teens. While there were no actual suicides during these trials, young people taking Strattera require careful monitoring. Straterra is non habit forming. The drug is unlikely to be abused, and you can stop using Strattera without tapering off. Strattera comes with it's own unique risks and side effects. Talk with your doctor immediately if you are taking the drug and experience impulsive behavior, panic attacks, insomnia, mania, suicidal thoughts, irritability, anxiety, or hostility. Potential side effects while taking Strattera include mood swings, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, fatigue, nausea and decreased appetite. Some more serious side effects have been noted with the use of Strattera. These include slowed growth in children, trouble urinating, allergic reactions such as hives and swelling, long lasting erections, and damage to the liver. There is potential risk for heart related problems while using Strattera, especially in those with a history of cardiovascular conditions. There’s a potential for serious problems if you also take decongestants, MAOIs, or blood pressure medications. You shouldn’t take Strattera if you are pregnant or breast feeding, or if you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma.

Both Adderall and Strattera have been shown to be effective in treating ADHD symptoms. Both come with a fair number of potential side effects, some of which can be serious. Before taking them or giving them to your child, discuss all the potential benefits and risks with your doctor, and continue monitoring during their use.

To learn more about health topics that concern the whole family, please visit

Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.