Generic Name: Atomoxetine
Brand Name: Strattera
What is Strattera?
Strattera (atomoxetine) is known to affect the chemicals present in the brain including the nerves that are said to contribute to impulsivity and hyperactivity. This medication is mostly used as a treatment option for those with ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is basically made as part of the complete treatment plan, which also includes social, psychological, and other forms of treatment.
This medication is known to stop and improve certain ADHD symptoms. It increases concentration, ensures that the individual stays focused, increases the ability of the individual to pay attention to detail in particular tasks, and help individuals fight the habit of fidgeting.
Strattera is advertised as the first nonstimulant drug for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. There are various nonstimulants available such as tricyclic antidepressants or Intuniv (guanfacine), which can also be prescribed for ADHD symptoms.
The doctor can also prescribe Strattera for other medical purposes not mentioned above.
How Strattera Works
Strattera is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). This drug works by strengthening the chemical signals between the nerves that use norepinephrine when sending messages. Although most SNRIs are prescribed for the treatment of depression, Strattera is specifically used for ADHD.
Norepinephrine generally affects an individual’s overall mood. Strattera can change how the brain absorbs norepinephrine and how this chemical acts in the body.
Strattera is approved for use in children 6 years old and above, teens with ADHD, and adults. The drug's safety has not been established yet for those who are less than 6 years old.
- Strattera should not be used by individuals who have narrow-angle glaucoma, any heart disease or coronary artery disease, moderate to severe hypertension (high blood pressure), and tumor on the adrenal gland.
- Individuals who have taken MAO inhibitors in the past 14 days should not take Strattera. MAO inhibitors include linezolid, selegiline, isocarboxazid, methylene blue injection, tranylcypromine, rasagiline, and many others.
- Taking Strattera can lead to new or worsening cases of psychosis, which include strange thoughts or behavior, especially when individuals suffer from depression, have a medical history of depression, bipolar disorder, or any type of mental disorder.
- Individuals who have high blood pressure and heart problems should not take Strattera, which may cause stroke, sudden death, or heart attack.
- Young individuals taking this medicine may have suicidal tendencies or thoughts during the initial phase of Strattera treatment or whenever there are any changes in the drug's dosage. Thus, it is important to stay alert when it comes to mood changes and symptoms of patients, especially if they had suicidal thoughts in the past.
- Individuals who are allergic to atomoxetine should not take this medication.
Keep in mind the following points before taking Strattera:
- Before starting the medication, let the doctor know if you are pregnant or planning to conceive since it is still unknown whether this medicine can harm an unborn child.
- Let the doctor know if you are nursing a baby since it is still unclear whether atomoxetine passes into the breast milk and in any way cause harm to the nursing baby.
- This medicine is not prescribed for anyone who is younger than 6 years old.
- Strattera should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Ensure to follow your doctor's instructions or you can also check the label of the medicine for a detailed guide on its usage and dose.
- Do not attempt to change the dosage on your own without your doctor's advice.
- This medicine should be taken daily at the same time with a full glass of water. Strattera is usually taken daily once in the morning or two times a day (in the morning and late afternoon).
- Strattera can be taken with or without food.
- Do not crush, break, or chew the medicine. The capsule has to be swallowed as a whole. If you have trouble swallowing the capsule, then inform your doctor about it.
- For maximum benefit, Strattera should be taken on a regular basis. It is better to get your prescription refilled before you completely run out of medicine.
- Discard capsules that have been accidentally opened or broken.
- Do not get the inside medicine of the capsule to come in contact with your eyes since it can be dangerous. In case if it does come in contact with your eyes, then immediately rinse it well with water. You can ask your doctor about the medicine's safe handling and proper disposal.
While you are on Strattera, you must have regular visits to your doctor to properly monitor your blood pressure, heart health, height, and weight.
Strattera's dose and form usually depend on the following:
- Current medical condition
- Severity of your condition
- Other underlying health problems
- Your response to the first dose
Adult Dose for ADHD
The initial oral dose is 40 mg per day. The dosage can be increased to 80 mg per day after a minimum of three days from the initial dose. After a period of 2-4 weeks, the doctor can increase the dose to 100 mg per day in ADHD patients, who have not yet achieved the expected optimal results.
Pediatric Dose for ADHD
For those who are below 70 kg, the initial oral dose is 0.5 mg per kg daily. Gradually, the dose can be increased to 1.2 mg per kg on a daily basis. This can be done after a minimum three days from the initial dose. The maximum dose applicable is 1.4 mg per kg or 100 mg on a daily basis.
If you missed a dose, then take the medicine as soon as you remember. However, skip the missed dose if it is already time for your next dose. Do not take extra doses to make up for the missed dose to avoid overdosing. The symptoms of an overdose may include:
- Stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal cramps
- Unusual behavior
Seek immediate medical help if you experience any allergic reactions, which usually include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin itching
- Swelling of the lips, throat, face, and tongue
It is important to report any new or worsening symptoms at the earliest. They include:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping
- Feelings of impulsivity
- Easily agitated or irritated
- Being very aggressive
- Hyperactive whether in mental or physical form
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or suicidal tendencies
Children taking Strattera must be closely monitored by their doctor since the drug can cause slow growth and poor weight gain. It is still unknown if the drug can be safely and effectively taken by children who are below 6 years old.
It is important to stop the use of this medicine if you experience any of the following side effects:
1. Symptoms Related to Psychosis
- Behavioral issues
- Signs of hostility
- Signs of paranoia
2. Symptoms Related to Heart Problems
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- A constant feeling that you may pass out any moment
3. Painful Urination
- While urinating, an individual would experience painful and difficult urination.
4. Symptoms Related to Liver Issues
- Abdominal pain, especially on the upper right side of the abdomen
- Flu-like symptoms
- Constant itching
- Dark-colored urine
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
5. Erection Problems
- Patients may experience painful erections or erections that tend to last for more than four hours.
Common Side Effects
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling dizzy
- Urination problems
- Sudden mood changes
- Sexual dysfunction
- Feeling tired or weak
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain or upset
- Irregular periods and menstrual cramps
To combat dizziness, try to slowly get up from a sitting or lying down position.
Strattera can cause an increase in blood pressure levels, so it is advisable to have regular checkups to properly monitor your blood pressure. Do not drive or use any machinery that requires focus after taking this medicine. Avoid carrying out any activities, which would need mental alertness. Moreover, limit the intake of alcoholic beverages.
Before starting Strattera, it is important to inform your doctor about all of your other medications, which include over-the-counter drugs, prescription medicine, herbal medicine, and dietary supplements.
Do not start or stop any medications without your doctor's recommendation. It is important to let the doctor know if you are taking any of the following medications since they can cause certain drug interactions:
- Medications for asthma
- Blood pressure medications
- Medicine for allergy or colds, which contains decongestants such as phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine