With all of the options available today for ADHD treatment, you may be feeling overwhelmed and stressed when searching for the correct ADHD medication.
One of the more recent additions to the market is Vyvanse, an amphetamine that can also be prescribed to treat binge eating disorder.
How does Vyvanse fit into the rest of the ADHD marketplace, and is it the correct treatment choice for you?
We’ll examine the benefits, side effects, and potential interactions with other medications to see if Vyvanse is the right ADHD prescription for you!
Vyvanse and Your Body’s History
Lisdexamfetamine, sold under the brand name Vyvanse, is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. The drug regulates the nerves inside your brain that contribute to controlling impulses and exhibiting hyperactivity.
Risk Factor: Heart Problems
Like many other substances that affect the human brain, Vyvanse is habit-forming. This type of stimulant has the potential to cause a heart attack or a stroke in anyone with a history of heart problems or high blood pressure.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms in the past, you should consider other options and consult with your doctor about alternate choices for ADHD treatment.
Do you have any issues with blood circulation, where you might feel cold feet during the night or numbness from a lack of blood flow? Vyvanse can contribute to making these issues worse, which may result in pain and discoloration in your extremities.
If you have taken monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors in the two weeks leading up to your beginning of Vyvanse treatment, you are at risk for an extremely dangerous drug interaction. Examples of MAO inhibitors are methylene blue injections, tranylcypromine, and linezolid.
Have you ever experienced psychotic episodes? If you have a known history or mental illness, bipolar disorder or depression, it’s possible that Vyvanse will make this worse, and increase any recurring psychotic thoughts or behavior. Vyvanse has the potential to create this with no previous history as well. If you’ve experienced thoughts in the past that might be considered dark or suicidal, be sure to address this with your doctor before beginning a treatment program with Vyvanse.
A few other existing conditions will not interact well with Vyvanse. Speak to your doctor if you have ever experienced kidney disease, coronary artery disease, or a history of addiction. This goes for your family as well.
If you’re currently on any medications for nausea prevention, Parkinson’s disease, or if you take any herbal products, mention this to your doctor before a Vyvanse prescription is given. These medications and other stimulants and opioids can mix poorly with Vyvanse and create a nasty condition called serotonin syndrome, also known as SS. Serotonin syndrome is potentially life-threatening, and will create dangerously high fevers and the potential for seizures.
Potential Side Effects of Vyvanse
Treating your ADHD with Vyvanse has the potential to cause a few side effects during the duration of your prescription, some of which may be worse than others.
An allergic reaction can manifest in the form of facial swelling or tightening of the airways in your nose and throat.
Some of the more common side effects may include those on the list below:
- Weight loss or a decrease in appetite (Vyvanse is also used to treat binge eating)
- Lack of ability to sleep properly
- Digestive problems, ranging from constipation and stomach pain to diarrhea
- Feelings of anxiety and an increased heart rate
- Irritability and/or cases of vertigo
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with Vyvanse will be unique, and you may experience multiple side effects, or none at all.
While Vyvanse has not been fully evaluated for its use during pregnancy, the drug has the ability to affect growth in children.
This is important to remember in case you plan to become pregnant, or if you are seeking an ADHD medication for your growing child. Using the drug will pass its contents into breast milk, and babies can experience low birth weight, premature birth, or signs of withdrawal symptoms. Switch to a formula if you plan to use Vyvanse while nursing.
Now that you’ve made the decision to use Vyvanse to treat your ADHD, you’re probably wondering: how does it work?
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Follow the Dosage Instructions
The first thing you’ll want to remember is that Vyvanse is potentially habit-forming, and it is crucial that you follow the dosage instructions on each label. This dosage may change throughout your treatment, so remember to keep your eye on the number printed on your prescription.
Vyvanse is designed to be taken as soon as you wake up. If you’re in a rush, or if you just don’t normally eat breakfast, don’t worry – you can take this medicine with or without food.
Vyvanse comes in two forms: a capsule and a chewable tablet. Both have the same dosage, refills, and effects. The capsule can be opened and poured into a drink or cereal if it’s more comfortable for you to ingest. It’s important for you to eat or drink the mixture right away and not store it for later consumption. If you opt for the tablet, make sure it is thoroughly chewed before you swallow it.
Be Sure to Keep Track
If you live with anyone else, be sure to keep track of your Vyvanse prescription and the number of doses left in your container. Vyvanse is an addictive substance, and if shared with anyone not currently being treated for ADHD, it has the potential to become just as addictive to them as it is for those who are using it for a disorder or treatment.
Doctor Visits Are a Must
Treatment with Vyvanse requires regular visits with your doctor, who will evaluate your progress and ask about your overall behavior and feelings while on the medication.
If they think you are showing signs of improvement, your doctor may adjust the dosage and continue with Vyvanse. If you begin to experience any of the symptoms described above, or if you aren’t responding to the drug, they will explore other options.
If you happen to miss a dose of Vyvanse, don’t panic!
You don’t want to put too much of the medicine into your system at once, so it might be necessary to just skip a day if it is too late in the evening to take your skipped dose.
The last thing you want is to end up taking too many and overdosing, which could be fatal if treatment isn’t received in time.
If you begin to experience episodes of panic, darkened urine, frantic breathing, or weakness in the muscles, you should go to the nearest medical facility.
Alternatives to Vyvanse
If you’re currently on any medication that simply won’t blend well with Vyvanse, or if you are prone to some of the side effects associated with the drug or have a history of symptoms that can be further complicated with Vyvanse, you’ll want to seek other options. Let’s take a look at some of the other choices below.
One of the most well-known treatment options for ADHD, Ritalin is a go-to prescription drug that is typically paired with other treatments.
Along with taking Ritalin, patients will attend counseling sessions to address how the drug is affecting their behavior and how they are making progress with therapy. Ritalin is also cheap, and available as a generic medicine throughout pharmacies nationwide.
Unlike Vyvanse, Ritalin will have to be taken several times per day, so it might interfere with your daily routine. While it isn’t as potentially addictive as Vyvanse, Ritalin is still a controlled substance, and your prescription must be renewed each month from your doctor.
Ritalin has been known to raise blood pressure and heart rate, so if you have a history of heart conditions, Ritalin will not be the best alternative to Vyvanse.
Like Vyvanse, Focalin capsules can be opened and mixed with a liquid substance if you’re not a fan of swallowing medicine in pill form. There are two dosage options for Focalin: a one-per-day extended-release dose, and another immediate-release form which will be taken twice per day.
Focalin is also available as a generic medication (dexmethylphenidate) to offset the expensive cost of the brand name option.
Focalin must be taken at some point during the day, as it has been demonstrated to cause insomnia later in the night, causing sleep deprivation and potentially affecting your work schedule if you operate on a weekday routine.
Kapvay is an ADHD treatment option that, for once, doesn’t act as a stimulant and does not carry the dangers of addictive substances, making it a great option for anyone with a history of drug or alcohol problems.
Along with ADHD, Kapvay (clonidine) is available as a generic medication and can be used to treat psychiatric and nervous system conditions.
Kapvay is not the first choice in ADHD medications, partially since it can take two weeks to notice any obvious changes in behavior.
Furthermore, anyone with a history of low blood pressure should avoid Kapvay, as stopping the medication will cause a massive BP spike. Feelings of dizziness are also associated with this medication.
Should I Choose Vyvanse?
If you’re not prone to addiction and want fast results, Vyvanse is going to be the right choice for ADHD medication. It comes in a chewable form, only must be taken once a day, and is easily mixed into other foods.
Talk to your doctor about your options and see if Vyvanse can be worked into your schedule.