Strattera Side Effects In Adults And Children

Last Updated: May 17, 2021

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Atomoxetine is a medication used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Side effects of Strattera use may occur at the beginning of treatment or after prolonged use. Most of these effects are mild and decrease with time. However, some patients report experiencing symptoms that are more serious and last longer. All patients need to know Atomoxetine warnings and adverse reactions, and it is advised to seek medical assistance from a doctor to help manage Strattera side effects.

Strattera Side Effects (Adults)

Atomoxetine side effects in adults receiving treatment for ADHD could occur both in the long- and short-term. They may vary from mild ones such as nausea to more serious ones like heart-related problems. Another factor in adults is the dose in terms of the amount and the length of time the drug has been used. According to the National U.S. Institute of Health, several other factors aggravate the symptoms in adults. Some of these factors include genetics, age, liver and kidney impairments, gender, and pregnancy, to mention a few.

The Most Common Strattera Side Effects in Adults Are:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Sexual adverse reactions
  • Difficulty starting or keeping a urine stream
  • Difficulty completely emptying the bladder
  • Menstrual cramps in women
  • Allergic reaction (hives or a skin rash)

Comparing Strattera vs. Adderall, similar adverse symptoms are seen. The reason why Strattera may be favored over stimulant medications such as Adderall is because of its minimal risk for abuse and far less addictive potential.

Adverse Reactions in Children

According to the Centre for Disease Control, 7 million children aged between 6 years to 17 years were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016 in the United States alone.

Atomoxetine is approved for the treatment of this disorder in children above the age of 6 years. Strattera side effects in children may turn just as adverse as those experienced by adult users. The use of Strattera for ADHD in children below six years has not undergone an evaluation to ascertain its efficacy and effectiveness.

The Following Are Some of Common Atomoxetine Side Effects in Children:

  • Darkish urine
  • Feelings of nausea or vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Dizziness

Strattera Weight Loss

Due to the appetite-altering side effects of Strattera, there is a direct correlation between the patient’s weight and the drug. Because of this, children affected by the drug may experience slower growth rates in height and weight gaining. So, Strattera weight loss is possible in some patients. This effect is attributed to the reduction of appetite that a patient may experience while on it. For this reason, there is a great potential to abuse this drug by those seeking to lose weight.

Scales and measuring tape.

Does Strattera Cause Weight Gain?

Not directly, because weight gain as a side effect of atomoxetine is within the normal range of weight fluctuations after an initial period of weight loss. These effects of atomoxetine tend to appear early in the course of treatment and then disappear as the patient continues to use the drug.

Strattera And Pregnancy

Findings from the Centres for Disease and Prevention (CDC) indicated an increase in the number of women taking Strattera while pregnant. The study found that 1 in every 10 women in the United States took ADHD medications during pregnancy between 2010 and 2011. The long-term effects of Strattera in these women indicated an increased likelihood of having babies with some kind of congenital disability compared to those who did not take the medication.

Atomoxetine side effects are adversely experienced in rabbit and rat fetuses. Decreased fetal weight and delayed fetal bone formation (ossification) were observed in these studies.

It may also be advisable to use some method of contraception to avoid getting pregnant while taking atomoxetine. Nonetheless, to prevent any associated adverse reactions during pregnancy, women planning to have a baby should consult a doctor.

Breastfeeding

There is insufficient data for the adverse reactions that occur as a result of taking atomoxetine while breastfeeding. According to a report from the atomoxetine manufacturer, Strattera’s immediate effects in breastfed infants are minimal. Traces of ingredients from atomoxetine have been found in mother’s milk in animal studies. It may, therefore, be advisable to talk to a doctor to avoid the possible adverse reactions to a child before taking Strattera while breastfeeding.

Can One Overdose On Strattera?

When the patient takes more than the recommended dose, a Strattera overdose might occur. The risk of overdose is higher in a patient who takes atomoxetine with central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines, or alcohol. In this case, immediate medical attention is needed. No deaths caused by atomoxetine overdose alone have been reported.

The Most Common Symptoms of Overdose Are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Seizures

In the case of Strattera overdose, call 911 immediately.

Atomoxetine Warnings And Contraindications

There are situations when atomoxetine for ADHD may cause harmful effects to a specific group of people with certain medical conditions. The following are some of the Atomoxetine warnings and contraindications.

Hypersensitivity

Atomoxetine is contraindicated in any person with a known hypersensitivity to the substance. For example, due to allergic reactions, Strattera use may cause painful swelling under the skin of some patients. This condition is known as angioedema. In some, it may cause hives (urticaria), swollen red bumps on the skin.

Woman suffering from Strattera side effects.

Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

This is a condition whereby the iris is either pushed or pulled forward, causing a blockage in the eye’s drainage angle. In clinical trials, Strattera was associated with an increased risk of dilation of the patient’s pupils. Consequently, its use is not recommended in patients with narrow-angle glaucoma as it may act as a trigger for the condition.

Suicidal Ideation

Atomoxetine increases the risk of suicidal ideation in the short term. Children and adolescents are the most vulnerable groups. This effect is common because the atomoxetine mechanism of action is similar to antidepressants. According to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 50 children taking antidepressants experiences increased suicidal thoughts.

Severe Liver Injury

Reported cases of hepatotoxicity occurred within 3 to 12 weeks of initiation of the treatment in most cases. This is because the medication is actively broken down in the liver, producing products that may be toxic. For patients who may try snorting Strattera to get high, there may be an increased risk. Snorting sends the entire dosage into the bloodstream at once.

Serious Cardiovascular Events

Patients who experience Atomoxetine side effects such as chest pain, unexplained syncope, or other cardiac disease-related symptoms during the usage should consult and report these symptoms to their doctor. It may also be advised to undergo a cardiac evaluation.

Woman experiences chest pain as Strattera side effect.

Continued use of the drug has been seen to increase the heart rate. Therefore, the patients on the medication should monitor their heart rates and blood pressure on follow-up visits to their doctor.

Emergence Of New Psychotic Or Manic Symptoms

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency indicated that, at average doses, atomoxetine for depression could be related to treatment-emergent psychotic or manic symptoms in young patients with no prior history of the condition.

Be Aware of the Adverse Reactions

Generally, the most common side effects of Strattera occur during the initial phases of usage. If the adverse symptoms prolong for an extended period, patients are advised to consult a medical professional who may reduce the dose or prescribe an alternative drug. If the adverse reactions cause abnormal heart rhythms, the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure need to be measured regularly.

The patients may experience side effects when Strattera is abused as well. People abuse the drug by using it for another purpose other than prescribing one or in greater dosages than recommended. In any case, misuse should be stopped as soon as it is detected or realized. In a person who cannot do it on one’s own, there are drug rehabilitation centers. With their help, the process of alcohol and drug addiction treatment is eased and well-planned to meet the personal needs of a patient.

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Page Sources

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Published on: November 13th, 2019

Updated on: May 17th, 2021

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.