What is Strattera (atomoxetine)?
Strattera is a medication used for the treatment of ADHD. It is commonly known as atomoxetine. Strattera was initially created to be used as an antidepressant drug, but was found to be ineffective in treating depression. It was then found to be beneficially for treating ADHD due to the effects it has on the norepinephrine receptors in the brain. It is often prescribed as a safer alternative to stimulate medications which are often used to treat ADHD. It contains far less potential for abuse than other typical ADHD medications.
How does Strattera work?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been found to be linked to low levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the frontal lobe of the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for providing motivation and the ability to concentrate. Strattera is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. This means that it increases the concentration of norepinephrine in the frontal lobe by slowing the rate at which norepinephrine is eliminated from the brain. It also has a similar effect on dopamine levels in the frontal lobe. With increased concentrations of both dopamine and norepinephrine many patients find that atomoxetine significantly increases their ability to pay attention and concentrate. This mechanism of action results in less of a likelihood of abuse as opposed to stimulant drugs that are often used to treat ADHD. Medications which are stimulants rather than slowing the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine instead release dopamine and norepinephrine. This can lead compulsive re-dosing to achieve the rush felt when these chemicals are rapidly released. Strattera does not pose this same risk of abuse from a molecular standpoint.
Is Strattera a stimulant?
As it is used to treat ADHD many often wonder if Strattera is a stimulant due to the fact that stimulants are most often used to treat ADHD. Strattera is not classified as a stimulant though it does effect many of the same neurotransmitters within the brain as stimulants do. Stimulants are fast acting and result in the release of of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. The neurotransmitters released by stimulants are typically norepinephrine and dopamine. For this reason stimulants can lead to abuse and psychological dependence in a large amount of users due to the rush achieved from the release of these neurotransmitters. Strattera is not classified as a stimulant because rather than releasing dopamine and norepinephrine it inhibits their reuptake resulting in a larger concentration of these molecules in the brain. So though it achieves many of the same effects as stimulant medications it does it through a completely different mechanism than stimulant medications.
Who takes Strattera?
Strattera is most often prescribed to those with ADHD who cannot tolerate stimulant medications. These patients may have a past history of drug abuse or suffer from psychological conditions that are worsened with the use of stimulants. It is also prescribed for patients who suffer from nervous conditions such as tremors or facial tics. Many parents may also choose to have their children prescribed Strattera for their ADHD as there are less immediate side effects associated with Strattera than stimulant medications primarily used to treat ADHD.