According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders among children. Though usually diagnosed in childhood, ADHD often lasts into adulthood. There are many methods to help treat ADHD symptoms, the most common being the combined use of medications with behavioral therapy. Here we will compare the use, dosage, and side effects of two commonly used ADHD medications: Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse), and methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Vyvanse and Ritalin act much in the same way. Both are stimulants approved to treat ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors, and inattention. Though very little research has been done comparing these two drugs, studies which compared Vyvanse with other stimulant drugs found it equally effective. Both of these medications are controlled substances, and their use should therefore be monitored, as they have the potential to be addictive. Because Vyvanse enters the body in an inactive form and becomes active as it is digested, it is less likely to be abused than the active chemical in Ritalin. People with a history of addiction or drug abuse should contact their doctor before using these drugs.

As far as dosage is concerned, Vyvanse is a single capsule ingested each morning, with or without food. It is taken in an inactive form, and as you digest it, Vyvanse is slowly converted into it's active form, ready to be used by the body. The effect of this is a relatively longer dosage- up to fourteen hours. Ritalin on the other hand is taken in it's active form, and is available in three dosages: short-acting, intermediate-acting, and extended release forms. The short-acting dosage is taken two to three times daily, with period of up to four hours of effectiveness, while the sustained release dosage is taken once per day, and may last eight to ten hours.

Both Ritalin and Vyvanse share common side effects, and each have their own unique side effects as well. The more common side effects shared between both drugs are dry mouth, anxiety or irritability, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, dizziness, nausea, weight loss, and diarrhea. Ritalin has also been known to cause headaches and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Both Vyvanse and Ritalin may also cause more serious side effects, including heart problems, mania, seizures and tics, and reduced growth in children.

Because of their interactive capabilities, these medications are not for everyone. You should talk to your doctor if you have recently taken antidepressants, especially MAOI inhibitors. Both of these medications may be unfit for those who have heart or circulatory problems, a history of drug abuse, or have had adverse reactions to the drug in the past. Additionally, Ritalin should be avoided by people who have a history of anxiety, those who have glaucoma, and those effected with Tourette Syndrome.

While both of these stimulant medications have been approved for the treatment of ADHD symptoms, they break down differently in the body, and may have adverse effects. When it comes to you and your family, work alongside your doctor to compare Ritalin and Vyvanse and figure out which medication is right for you.

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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.