ADHD Medication and Treatment Reviews

Vyvanse: ADHD Medication

Vyvanse is a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD symptoms in children, adolescents, and adults
Generic Name: Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (amphetamine)

What is Vyvanse? Is Vyvanse a Narcotic?

Vyvanse (Generic Name: lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a once-daily, timed-release stimulant ADHD medication primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) in children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults. Vyvanse is not a narcotic, but according to the FDA, it is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. It is an amphetamine.

Vyvanse may improve focus for people with inattentive ADHD (aka ADD), and decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior — hallmark ADHD symptoms for many patients. It is not known if it is safe for children under the age of 6. Vyvanse has been available since 2007, when the FDA approved the medication for the treatment of ADHD.

Vyvanse is also used to treat binge eating disorder in adults.

Is Vyvanse Better Than Adderall?

Adderall and Vyvanse are both schedule II amphetamine-based central nervous system stimulant medications used to treat ADHD. Adderall comes in both immediate- and extended-release form; Vyvanse is available as an extended-release medication only. The immediate-release version of Adderall has a duration of action of 4 to 6 hours; the extended-release version lasts approximately 12 hours. The duration of effects for Vyvanse is 10 to 14 hours.

Vyvanse is a prodrug – an inert substance that is metabolized in the body to become active – which means it’s side effects are considered less harsh. Both drugs are classified by the FDA as Schedule II stimulants because they can be abused or lead to dependence, however Vyvanse is considered to carry a lower risk since it takes longer to metabolize in the system than does Adderall.

What Is the Best Vyvanse Dosage to Treat ADHD Symptoms?

The optimal dosage of Vyvanse varies by patient. Vyvanse capsules are available in 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, 30mg, 40mg, 50mg, 60mg and 70mg dosages. Vyvanse chewable tablets are available in 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, 30mg, 40mg, 50mg, and 60mg dosages. The time-release formulation is designed to maintain a steady level of medicine in the body throughout the day.

Your doctor may adjust your dosage weekly by 10mg or 20mg increments until you or your child experiences the best response — that is, the lowest dosage at which you experience the greatest improvement in symptoms without side effects. The maximum dose is typically 70mg daily.

As with all medications, follow your Vyvanse prescription instructions exactly. Vyvanse is taken orally, with or without food, once daily. The first dose is typically taken first thing in the morning; it should be taken at the same time each day for the best results.

Capsules should be swallowed whole with water or other liquids. If your child is unable to swallow the capsule, it can be opened and stirred into yogurt, water, or orange juice. Taken this way, the mixture should be swallowed entirely at once. Chewable tablets should be completely chewed before swallowing, then followed with a glass of water or other liquid.

During treatment, your doctor may periodically ask you to stop taking your Vyvanse so that he or she can monitor ADHD symptoms; check vital statistics including blood, heart, and blood pressure; or evaluate height and weight. If any problems are found, your doctor may recommend discontinuing treatment.

Some patients report developing a tolerance to Vyvanse after long-term use. If you notice that your dosage is no longer controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor to plan a course of action.

What are the Side Effects of Vyvanse?

Most people taking Vyvanse do not experience any side effects. That said, the most common side effects associated with Vyvanse are as follows:

Vyvanse Side Effects When Treating ADHD:

  • anxiety
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • trouble sleeping
  • upper stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Vyvanse Side Effects When Treating Binge Eating Disorder:

  • dry mouth
  • trouble sleeping
  • decreased appetite
  • increased heart rate
  • constipation
  • feeling jittery
  • anxiety

Another serious side effect is slowed growth in children.

Vyvanse and Weight Loss

Vyvanse should not be taken off-label to help you lose weight. Weight loss is not an approved use for this medication.

Vyvanse and Driving

Taking Vyvanse may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor. Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Vyvanse and Heart or Blood Pressure Related Problems

Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities and other serious heart problems have experienced sudden death, stroke, heart attack, and increased blood pressure while taking Vyvanse. Stimulants can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Vyvanse.

Vyvanse and Mental Illness

Disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar illness, or depression. The FDA manufacturer recommends evaluating patients for bipolar disorder prior to stimulant administration. Vyvanse may create new or exacerbate existing behavior problems, or bipolar illness. It can cause psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teenagers. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or sudden suspicions.

Vyvanse and Circulation Problems

Discuss circulation problems with your doctor before taking Vyvanse, which has been known to cause numbness, coolness, or pain in fingers or toes, including Raynaud’s phenomenon. Report to your doctor any new blood-flow problems, pain, skin color changes, or sensitivities to temperature while taking Vyvanse.

Vyvanse and Substance Abuse

Stimulants like Vyvanse have a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially among people who do not have ADHD. It is a “Schedule II Stimulant,” a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule II drugs include Dexedrine, Ritalin, and cocaine. People with a history of drug abuse should use caution when trying this medication. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Who Can Take Vyvanse? Medication Precautions

You should not take Vyvanse if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in Vyvanse, or if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within 14 days.

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Vyvanse with your doctor. It is not known if it can cause fetal harm. Vyvanse is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.

The safety of Vyvanse for children under age six has not been established. Store Vyvanse in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Vyvanse prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.

Interactions Associated with Vyvanse

Before taking Vyvanse, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Vyvanse can have a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction with antidepressants including MAOIs.

Vyvanse is similar to amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. You should avoid taking these medications concurrently with Vyvanse.

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Vyvanse before having any surgery or laboratory tests. Vyvanse can cause false steroid results.

The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.

Sources:

What is Vyvanse. https://www.vyvanse.com/

Allen, Shari. Adderall XR and VyvanseTM. Mental Health Clinician (2014) https://meridian.allenpress.com/mhc/article/4/1/8/37052/Adderall-XRR-and-VyvanseT

Adderall vs. Vyvanse: What’s the Difference? American Addiction Centers (2019). https://americanaddictioncenters.org/adderall/vs-vyvanse

Cardiovascular Effects of Stimulant and Non-Stimulant Medication for Children and Adolescents with ADHD. CNS Drugs (2017). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40263-017-0410-7

Drelich, Jordan. Is Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate Safe and Effective in Reducing ADHD Symptoms? Psychiatry Commons (2017). https://digitalcommons.pcom.edu/pa_systematic_reviews/397/

More Information on Vyvanse and Other ADHD Medications:

Free Download: The Complete Guide to ADHD Medications

The Top ADHD Medications for Children — Rated by Readers

Primer: The Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD

62 Vyvanse: ADHD Medication Comments & Reviews

  1. My son started this a couple of months ago. It worked while in school, but the crash from this was difficult to handle. My son turned into another person I didn’t recognize. He was angry, overly sensitive like someone experiencing withdrawals. I took him off of it. The teachers said he was fine in school and was focused, but when he got home we couldn’t deal with his new attitude. He was worse in my opinion. There were also days when we let him take it on the weekend and we saw him go through the same thing. We want to try something that will not make him a mean person or a sad person.

  2. My 13 year old daughter was diagnosed with severe ADHD February of last year. I’m not exactly sure what the first dosage was, but it’s been raised multiple times, and she now takes 70 mg of Vyvanse every morning. While it has definitely helped her with her ADHD, she has lost a worrying amount of weight (she was about 110 before taking it, she now weighs 96 pounds. The lowest she got was 90 pounds) and we’re thinking of asking her psychiatrist if the dosage can be upped or if we should switch medications because she has developed a resistance to this. To cope with the weightloss, my daughter has to take an appetite stimulant (Cyproheptadine, AKA Periactine) three times a day.

  3. My son is 12, he takes 30 mg, he’s really anxious and tends to overeat, this med helped to concentrate with his school work and take control of his appetite, he told he feels good when he can control what he eats. I have a doubt about the medication side’s effect which is “slow grown in kids”. My son was the tallest in his class or in his soccer team but now he’s not growing at the same pace his friends or cousins are. I would like to ask if anybody notice that as well.

  4. I am a 20 year old college student and Vyvanse was the first medication I tried for my ADHD. After finally being diagnosed, my psychiatrist started me on 40mg, and 50 the following week. The entire month I was on it was horrible. My appetite was so supressed that I had to force-feed myself, and could go through my day with one snack until being hungry around 7 pm. The meds made my anxiety much much worse, and I was a disaster to deal with. The hyperfixation became a huge problem for me, as I had to be stressing out about something at all times. I didn’t see any improvement with my school work for my summer classes (I did just fine on days I didn’t take it) and my boyfriend had to constantly argue with me to get me to calm down. I didn’t have much trouble sleeping, but I am really glad I stopped taking it. It’s nice though to see that other people do well with it.

  5. (I’m 18, by the way) I took 30mg for a month and it wasn’t enough – I still couldn’t focus and I still wasn’t organised, however it DID help keep my energy up. The only side effect I noticed consistently was loss of appetite. I then took 50mg for a month and it was too high, and I got SO many side effects! Stomach ache, loss of appetite, irritability and anger, general short temper with Every little thing, on the verge of tears, and the dryest mouth I’ve ever had in my life. It also really worsened my mental health and despite not taking it anymore, I now have a habit or reacting aggressively towards mild inconveniences. However, I shouldn’t have taken 50mg for so long, despite being advised to do so to see how it went – I do believe this is an excellent medication for those who like it.
    Something I noticed was the 30mg affected my period. It’s always been regular but whilst taking 30mg, my period went from 5 to 10 days and got heavy at the end rather than the beginning, all of my ADHD symptoms were worse and I felt like a zombie. My cramps were also worsened and lengthened. On the 50mg, my period was unaffected however the stimulants were not effective during this time (this is likely because low oestrogen levels can cause stimulants to be less effective).
    Again, I don’t think this drug is bad – just not for me. I’m trying combined birth control (to keep my oestrogen levels balanced) and I’m starting concerta. I couldn’t find much information on periods and stimulants so I hope this helps someone!

  6. I am a 26 year old adult and have been consistently taking Vyvanse for a few months. I take a low dose (20 mg), alongside Strattera and Clonidine (the Clonidine is more for anxiety than ADHD). I also take other medications for bipolar II disorder and OCD, so I cannot review for what it’s like to take Vyvanse alone. I also find Vyvanse does help my binge eating tendencies, although at times it can bring out my anorexic side so I have to be very careful about monitoring my meals. Another side effect: I have lost weight on it as well, but not a significant amount.
    I usually take it 1x a day but my doctor has prescribed taking a second dose in the afternoon if I take it early in the morning.
    Last thing I’ll say side effect wise is that it exacerbates my skin picking issues (dermatillomania). I am trying to find a solution to this– NAC does not work, and Prozac induces (hypo)mania for me.
    As far as good things go: this is the only stimulant I have tried for ADHD so far and it works. I should mention I am mostly inattentive and not hyperactive, but in combination with the other medications I feel more focused, calmer, more organized, and even slightly more motivated. It definitely doesn’t ‘cure’ the ADHD, but it does help. I sometimes wonder about a higher dose, but at the same time if it’s working for me this way, why change it?
    (medications I take alongside Vyvanse 20 mg: Anafranil 200 mg, lithium 1200 mg, Vraylar 1.5 mg, Strattera 60 mg, Clonidine .1 mg–> oh and daily exercise/regular meals helps as well as creative writing)

  7. Granted I’m only on 30mg dosage, I will say it does help especially since I have ADD, and I’m a senior in high school, but I will tell you this don’t go without it for a week, it sucks, but it’s effective especially when I started up high school again, it helps me focus and able to keep my mind on one topic at a time, as well as just slow my thinking process down so my thoughts aren’t racing.

  8. I was diagnosed in 2018 with ADHD. I was 49 at the time. I tried to avoid going on medication, seeing if I could manage without- but honestly with almost half a century of attempting to cope (without a diagnosis) did not leave me with many healthy coping skills. I was terrified to start the Vivance if I have to be honest, I had no idea what my response would be to the medication. I had the medication for about 2 weeks before I actually took the first dose, on a day where I was not working, I had no plans, no need to drive, my daughter was with her Dad- it seemed safe. I do not know what I was expecting, but the calm and quiet that I experienced was shocking. I had no idea how “noisy” my brain was until I started the medication. At first I only took it on days that I was working, but I now take it daily and my life runs so much more smoothly. I was able to work full-time as well and take university courses (do not recommend that looking back) and now I am finishing my degree. I do have a few side effects, I notice that I am crankier in the first part of the evenings, and I am not able to fall asleep as quickly. I am able to get about 6 hours of sleep at night (a bit less than before), but I do feel well rested. The medication does appear to stimulate motility in the GI tract- so I do make sure that I have access to a bathroom in the first few hours after taking the dose (this reaction has declined significantly, I also have IBS so the GI reaction may be linked to that as well), I now experience an increase in my Raynauds symptoms- more often and more severe. Overall it has been a good experience and is working well for me. My teenage daughter also is on it and it appears to help her as well- I cannot tell if she has the same amount of positive improvements, as she has other health issues that compound some of the symptoms.

  9. We started my 10 year old on Vyvanse last month, due to having focus issues (virtual learning was impossible). We started at 20mg, but backed down to 10mg for a few weeks due to side effects (shakiness and palapations). She is now back on 20mg daily. She does have to take it early, since she is having troubles falling asleep (we have now added in melatonin to help her get back to a normal sleep schedule). BUT the results of event that low dose, have been incredible. All of her teachers have seen vast improvements, and all of her grades have gone up. She also takes 3mg of Intutiv in the evening. Vyvanse has been so helpful in her being successful!

  10. I’ve been on ADHD medication for 10 years and I’m 20 now. I switched to Vyvanse when I was 12 and I believe started at a low dosage and worked my way up to now 60mg. I used to take it every day until I was 14 when I was only 75lb, I wouldn’t take them on the weekends or school breaks. As soon as I stopped I started to match the weight for my age. Throughout the years, I have gained more and more side effects, they didn’t get bad until I was 17. In the morning I would take them before school around 8 am and have a positive mood, by 3pm, my anxiety would flare, I would be drained and be extremely irritable, making it hard on my friends and family. I wouldn’t have an appetite until 10 pm and still don’t. Since I am in Uni now, I only take them on the days I need to get work done or have classes. I have also experienced a seizure a couple, I have no other reason to why I had one besides vyvanse.

    Here is a list of the side effect I have now:
    – No appetite: This has caused me to anemic which means I have low iron. When it gets bad my vision goes and here or there I faint. Also not eating has made me feel week and deflated.

    – Bad Headaches by 6pm.

    – Nausea

    – Insomnia: A good night of sleep when on the meds is around 3:30 am on bad nights I can’t sleep until I take a nap for a couple of hours the next day, but I can only take a nap if I don’t take Vyvanse the next day. When I don’t take the meds I can be asleep by 9 pm.

    – Depression (When I’m not taking the meds I am as happy as can be)

    – High! Anxiety and stress

    – Extremely cold hands and feet by the end of the day.

    – Irritable

    – Fast heartbeat

    – Dizzy

    – abdominal pain and no it’s not because I am a woman.

    – Vomiting

    – Jittery feeling

    – Sweating

    – Extreme weight loss

    – Pale skin

    – mood swings (Also not because I am a woman, when I’m off them I feel as though I’m in control of what I say and my emotions. When I’m on them I never know when I’m going to snap at someone, get sad thoughts or be happy)

    – and blurred vision.

    Even though I get extremely tired, I can’t sleep because the meds keep my brain going.

    I don’t know if it is because I have been taking them for a long time or if this is normal. Currently, I am on a hunt for a new medication for my ADHD that I can control. I still take Vyvanse because sadly my ADHD is still bad and would struggle with focusing on school work. Also for those parents writing reviews about their young children, you can not advocate for them if you don’t know how it feels. I would take my meds and never tell my parents how I actually felt when taking them because I didn’t want to worry them or didn’t want to talk because my energy was low. I never truly enjoyed them because I never felt like myself and still don’t, I try to stay away from my friends when taking them because I’m drained and sluggish. It wasn’t until 4 years later my parents started to pick up on my mood and how I felt on the meds because as soon as I got home I would shut myself in my room and ask to not be bothered due to my brain running fast and my energy low. To the parents, I’m not saying you don’t know you’re children but just look out for any signs because they might not be comfortable telling you how they feel.

Tips for Good Medication and Treatment Reviews

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  • In your description, mention whether you're reviewing the medication or treatment for a child or for an adult (yourself or another adult), and as a patient or as a medical professional.
  • Mention what medical condition you were using the medication or treatment to address.
  • Mention the brand, dose, and period of time that you used the medication or treatment.
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