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Vyvanse vs. Ritalin: What’s the Difference and Which One Should I Take?


Vyvanse vs Ritalin Whats the Difference and Which One Should I Take

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Deciding between ADHD medications can be confusing and frustrating, especially when they’re as similar as Vyvanse and Ritalin. These medications are two of the most widely prescribed stimulant medications for ADHD. Which one is better for you depends on things like coinciding health issues, other medications you’re taking, and how old you are.

This article will discuss how these medications are similar and different and indicates the risk factors. This information can help you decide which one might be more effective for treating your ADHD. 

If you have questions about these medications or another aspect of ADHD treatment, contact a licensed healthcare provider on Klarity today for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment advice.

What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse (active ingredient: lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a once-daily time-released stimulant used to primarily treat ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults. Vyvanse is not considered a narcotic, but it is a schedule II controlled substance with the potential for abuse and addiction.

Vyvanse helps people with ADHD improve focus while decreasing impulsivity and hyperactivity. It has been FDA-approved for use since 2007.

Forms and Dosages

Vyvanse is a prodrug, meaning that it has to be metabolized by the liver before it turns into the active form of the medication. Because of this distinction, Vyvanse has to be taken orally in order to be effective. Chewable and swallowable tablets begin at 5 mg and are available in stronger doses at 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and the max dosage of 70 mg.

Vyvanse is taken once a day, first thing in the morning, with or without food. Do not take Vyvanse after 12 PM as it may disturb your quality of sleep. 

Conditions Treated

Vyvanse is FDA-approved to combat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and binge eating disorder (BED). 


Vyvanse is currently not available in generic form, so it is one of the costlier ADHD medications. The average retail cost of a one-month supply of Vyvanse without health insurance is approximately between $400 and $450. Speak with your health insurance provider to see if they cover this medication, or visit the manufacturer online to receive a one-time coupon for use in any pharmacy. 

For accurate information on pricing under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department. 

Side Effects

Because it is time-released and has a controlled output into your bloodstream, Vyvanse has a much more subtle effect on the body and mind than some other ADHD stimulants. Side effects from Vyvanse include but are not limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

More severe but less common side effects of Vyvanse include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Mood changes, including aggression and depression
  • Muscle twitching
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Blood flow problems in the fingers and toes
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Vyvanse is a stimulant that can cause issues for people with cardiac abnormalities or circulatory problems. If you have a history of heart problems, speak with your healthcare provider first before taking this medication. 

If you’ve experienced mental health issues in the past, speak candidly with your healthcare provider about your history of mental illness before taking this medication, as it can exacerbate your condition. If you are taking any kind of antidepressant, ask your healthcare provider if there are any drug interactions you should be aware of before taking Vyvanse. 

What is Ritalin?

Ritalin (active ingredient: methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by targeting neurotransmitters in the brain that control hyperactivity, impulsivity, and focus. 

Forms and Dosages

Ritalin comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg doses. 

The standard Ritalin formula is an instant-release formula (IR), although this medication does come in an extended-release formulation. The typical starting dose for an adult is 20 mg per day, twice a day, and is best taken 30-45 minutes before a meal. Ritalin SR tablets, the extended-release formula, is active in the body for up to eight hours.

Conditions Treated

Ritalin is primarily used to treat ADHD and sleeping disorders like narcolepsy.


Ritalin comes in branded and generic forms. A one-month supply of 5 mg generic Ritalin fetches upwards of $50 at your local pharmacy without health insurance. For accurate pricing for Ritalin under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department. 

Side Effects

Common Ritalin side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Sweating 
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mood changes 
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Indigestion
  • Headache, dizziness

If you experience swelling, hives, or any other sign of an allergic reaction while taking Ritalin, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Call a healthcare provider at once if you experience any kind of psychosis while taking this medication, including hallucinations, paranoia, aggression, or new behavior issues. 

Warnings and Drug Interactions

If you’ve used an MAO inhibitor in the past two weeks, speak with a healthcare provider before taking Ritalin, as it can cause complications. Ritalin may also cause worsening symptoms for individuals struggling with mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. 

If you have cardiac issues or circulatory problems, speak with a healthcare provider before taking Ritalin. Ritalin can be habit-forming and can lead to abuse and addiction. Disclose to your healthcare provider any history of substance abuse. 

Which Medication Is Best For Your ADHD?

Ritalin and Vyvanse are two potent and popular medications for combating the symptoms of ADHD. Consult an ADHD specialist about which medication may be better suited for your type of ADHD.

Schedule a Same-Day Online Appointment With Klarity

Within 48 hours or less, get diagnosed and treated for your ADHD with Klarity’s help (if applicable). 

At Klarity, you can easily book an appointment with a certified and licensed medical provider in your state. Your provider will: 

  • Review your medical history 
  • Evaluate your current symptoms 
  • Help you find the treatment that best works for you!

Take a free ADHD self-evaluation or schedule an appointment with an ADHD healthcare provider in your state today. Get the treatment you need without ever leaving home.

Start today, and discuss your symptoms with a specialist who can help.

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