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 Vyvanse vs Strattera: What’s the Difference?


Vyvanse vs Strattera Whats the Difference

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When choosing between stimulant and non-stimulant ADHD medication, it can be hard to determine which kind will have the most effect with the fewest side effects. For instance, Vyvanse and Strattera are prescription medications used to manage the symptoms of ADHD. Both drugs make it easier to concentrate, listen to others during conversations, finish tasks, and enjoy better sleeping and eating cycles. 

However, Vyvanse is a stimulant medication, while Strattera is a non-stimulant medication. Vyvanse works by stimulating the central nervous system to produce more dopamine and norepinephrine, while Strattera simply prevents norepinephrine from being reabsorbed. Some individuals react better to one kind of medication than the other. 

Below is a comprehensive comparison guide for these medications to help you understand the differences between them and choose what works best for you. 

If you’d like more information about ADHD medications or are seeking a diagnosis, book an appointment with an ADHD specialist on Klarity today. You could have the answers you need in less than 48 hours.

What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse (active ingredient: lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It does so by targeting the neurotransmitters in the brain that control behaviors like focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Vyvanse was approved for use by the FDA in 2007 and is a federally scheduled controlled substance, although it is not considered a narcotic.

Forms and Dosages

Vyvanse is known as a prodrug, i.e., a medication that does not become activated in the body until it is processed by the liver. Because it takes longer to be processed in the body and because it does not become activated until it filters first through the liver, Vyvanse has a lower risk of abuse and addiction especially compared to similar medications like Ritalin and Adderall. 

Vyvanse comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and the max dosage of 70 mg. It also comes in chewable tablets in the same dosages. Vyvanse is taken first thing in the morning with or without food. 

Do not take Vyvanse anytime after 12 PM as it can interfere with normal sleeping patterns. Do not crush or chew Vyvanse capsules. Doing so can result in a dangerous condition known as “serotonin syndrome.” Serotonin syndrome occurs when the brain is flooded with serotonin and can result in seizures, heart attacks, and even death.

Conditions Treated

Vyvanse is FDA-approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and binge eating disorder.


Vyvanse is not in generic form yet and remains one of the costlier ADHD medications on the market. For a one-month supply of Vyvanse outside of a health insurance plan, you may be spending upwards of $400 to $450 for a prescription of 30 mg capsules. For accurate information on what this medication costs under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department.

Side Effects

For most people taking Vyvanse, side effects are a non-factor. Vyvanse has more of a subtle effect than many ADHD medications because of its unique delivery mechanism. Some of the common side effects of Vyvanse include (but are not limited to):

  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Upper stomach pain

Less common but more severe side effects of Vyvanse include:

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

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Although not deemed a narcotic, Vyvanse is a federally scheduled controlled substance and has the potential for addiction and abuse. Those with a history of substance abuse issues should speak with a physician before taking this medication.

If you are experiencing or have experienced any of the following conditions, speak with your ADHD healthcare provider before taking Vyvanse:

  • Heart abnormalities
  • Circulation issues
  • Mental health issues
  • History of substance abuse

What is Strattera?

Strattera (active ingredient: atomoxetine hydrochloride) is an ADHD medication that is also classified as an SNRI or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. SNRIs help keep more norepinephrine available, which results in improved focus and concentration. Strattera is a non-stimulant and is not considered a controlled substance by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Strattera is the first non-stimulant ADHD medication approved by the FDA and is the first non-stimulant ADHD medication approved for use in adults. 

Forms and Dosages

Strattera comes in 10 mg, 18 mg, 25 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, and 100 mg dosages. It is not in generic form yet and is only available as a brand-name drug. This medication is to be taken 1-2 times per day with or without food. Strattera normally reaches max absorption within 1-2 hours after being ingested. It takes 1-2 weeks before Strattera reaches full concentration in the body.

Conditions Treated

Strattera is FDA approved and primarily used to treat ADHD but may have applications in other areas.


A 30-day supply of 10 mg Strattera capsules is approximately $400 to $450 for “out-of-pocket” expenses. This price can fluctuate depending on where you purchase the medication. For accurate pricing under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department. 

Side Effects

Common side effects of Strattera include but are not limited to:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Xerostomia

Less common side effects include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Dizziness
  • Ejaculation failure
  • Dyspepsia
  • Diaphoresis
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Dermatitis

Warnings and Drug Interactions

If you take antidepressants like Prozac, Lexapro, or Abilify, speak with your healthcare provider before taking this medication, as it may cause dangerous drug interactions. If you experience any of the following issues, discuss them with your healthcare provider before taking Strattera:

  • cardiac issues
  • glaucoma
  • hypertension
  • liver disease
  • seizure disorders
  • mental health issues

Which Will Effectively Treat Your ADHD?

Depending on your specific ADHD condition, either Vyvanse or Strattera may be beneficial for your disorder. To discover which may be best for you, speak with an ADHD specialist who can weigh your condition and medical history before prescribing an ADHD medication. 

Discover the Right ADHD Medication with Klarity

On Klarity, there are certified ADHD specialists who can diagnose and treat adults. We’ll connect you with these licensed and certified ADHD healthcare providers in your state within 48 hours or less. Your provider will review your medical history and current symptoms and help you find the treatment that works for you.

Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider in your state today! Take our free 2 minute self-evaluation to get started.

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