Strattera, also known by its generic name atomoxetine, is a medication that is primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that works by increasing the levels of norepinephrine in the brain. This helps to improve attention span, reduce impulsive behavior, and control hyperactivity in individuals with ADHD. Unlike stimulant medications commonly used to treat ADHD, Strattera is not classified as a controlled substance and is not habit-forming.
Strattera is available in capsule form and is typically taken once or twice daily, depending on the dosage prescribed by a healthcare provider. It is recommended to take Strattera at the same time each day to maintain a consistent level in the body. The medication is usually started at a low dose and gradually titrated up to the target therapeutic dose, as determined by the individual’s response and tolerability.
What to Avoid When Taking Strattera
There are certain situations and conditions in which the use of Strattera may not be recommended or should be avoided. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about any medical conditions, allergies, or medications you are currently taking before starting Strattera. Contraindications to taking Strattera include:
1. Hypersensitivity: Individuals with known hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to atomoxetine or any of the components of Strattera should not take this medication.
2. Glaucoma: Strattera can increase the risk of mydriasis (pupil dilation), which can be problematic for individuals with glaucoma. Therefore, it is contraindicated in people with narrow-angle or untreated open-angle glaucoma.
3. MAO inhibitors: The concomitant use of Strattera and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) is contraindicated due to the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition. A two-week washout period is recommended before starting Strattera in individuals who have recently discontinued MAO inhibitors.
4. Cardiovascular conditions: Strattera has been associated with an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. It should be used with caution in individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions, including severe hypertension, tachycardia, or structural cardiac abnormalities.
5. Hepatic impairment: Strattera is primarily metabolized by the liver. Therefore, caution should be exercised when prescribing Strattera to individuals with severe hepatic impairment. Dosage adjustments may be necessary in these patients.
Strattera and Your Health
While Strattera can be an effective treatment for ADHD, it may also cause side effects in some individuals. The most common side effects of Strattera include:
1. Gastrointestinal disturbances: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite are commonly reported side effects of Strattera. These symptoms are usually mild to moderate in severity and may improve with continued use.
2. Insomnia: Strattera can cause difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep, leading to insomnia. It is recommended to take the medication in the morning to minimize the risk of sleep disturbances.
3. Fatigue: Some individuals may experience fatigue or drowsiness while taking Strattera. This side effect is usually temporary and may resolve with continued use.
4. Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Strattera can cause an elevation in heart rate and blood pressure. Regular monitoring of these parameters is recommended, especially in individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
5. Sexual side effects: In rare cases, Strattera may cause sexual dysfunction, such as decreased libido or erectile dysfunction. If these side effects occur, it is advised to consult with a healthcare provider.
It is important to report any concerning or persistent side effects to your healthcare provider, as they may require dosage adjustments or alternative treatment options.
The dosing of Strattera is individualized based on a person’s age, weight, and response to the medication. The recommended starting dose for children, adolescents, and adults is usually 0.5 mg/kg/day, which is slowly increased over time as tolerated. The maximum recommended daily dose of Strattera is 1.4 mg/kg or 100 mg, whichever is lower.
If a dose of Strattera is missed, it should be taken as soon as remembered unless it is close to the next scheduled dose. In such cases, the missed dose should be skipped and the regular dosing schedule should be resumed. Doubling the dose to make up for a missed dose is not recommended.
In the event of an overdose, medical attention should be sought immediately. Symptoms of overdose may include agitation, irritability, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and tremors. Treatment of Strattera overdose may involve supportive measures and close monitoring of vital signs.
How Other Drugs Affect Strattera
There are several drugs that may interact with Strattera and potentially increase the risk of side effects or alter its effectiveness. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about all medications you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal products. Some examples of drugs that may interact with Strattera include:
1. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors): Concurrent use of Strattera with MAO inhibitors, such as phenelzine or tranylcypromine, can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome and should be avoided.
2. CYP2D6 inhibitors: Strattera is primarily metabolized by the CYP2D6 enzyme in the liver. Drugs that inhibit this enzyme, such as fluoxetine and paroxetine, can increase the concentration of Strattera in the body. Dose adjustments may be necessary in such cases.
3. Blood pressure medications: Certain hypertensive medications, such as beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, may potentiate the increase in blood pressure caused by Strattera. Close monitoring of blood pressure is recommended when using these medications concurrently.
4. Atomoxetine: Co-administration of atomoxetine with other medications containing atomoxetine should be avoided, as it may lead to an increased risk of side effects.
It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider or pharmacist to ensure the safe and effective use of Strattera in combination with other medications.
Q: Can Strattera be used for adults with ADHD?
A: Yes, Strattera can be used in adults as well as children and adolescents for the treatment of ADHD. The dosing may vary depending on the age and weight of the individual.
Q: How long does it take for Strattera to start working?
A: The full therapeutic effects of Strattera may not be evident for several weeks. It is important to continue taking the medication as prescribed, even if there are no immediate improvements in symptoms.
Q: Can Strattera be stopped abruptly?
A: It is generally recommended to gradually taper off Strattera to minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms. Abrupt discontinuation may result in rebound symptoms or other adverse effects.
Q: Does Strattera cause weight gain?
A: Weight gain is not a commonly reported side effect of Strattera. In fact, some individuals may experience a slight decrease in appetite and weight loss during treatment with Strattera.
Q: Can Strattera be used during pregnancy?
A: The use of Strattera during pregnancy should be carefully considered, weighing the potential benefits against the risks. It is important to discuss the potential effects with a healthcare provider before taking Strattera during pregnancy.