Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine) Uses and Side Effects

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Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) is one medication that may be prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and it is approved for use in children, adolescents, and adults.

Uses

Vyvanse is a prescription medication that treats ADHD in patients 6 years and above. In 2015, it was also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat moderate to severe binge eating disorder in adults.

Why Treating ADHD With Bipolar Disorder Can Be Tough

Treating ADHD in someone who has bipolar disorder can be tricky. Stimulant medication may exacerbate some symptoms of bipolar disorder, including psychosis. A doctor who is considering prescribing this drug needs to carefully evaluate the symptoms of the individual patient.

Hidden bipolar or psychotic disorders can be triggered by stimulants, and known psychiatric conditions made worse, so the doctor must also monitor the patient closely for such symptom changes.

Treatment Guidelines

This once-a-day medication should be taken in the morning since taking it later in the day can lead to insomnia. It can be taken with or without food. A capsule can be opened and the powder inside dissolved in a glass of water or orange juice, or in a serving of yogurt. The water with Vyvanse in it must be drunk immediately.

The recommended starting dose is 30 milligrams (mg). This can be adjusted up to a maximum dose of 70 mg per day.

It's also recommended that long-term use of Vyvanse be interrupted at times to see whether ADHD symptoms return to a point where medical treatment is still necessary. Such interruption may also be a good idea if there are signs of a child or adolescent's growth being suppressed.

Potential Conflicts With Medications

This drug should not be taken at the same time as any monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). In addition, you should wait 14 days between discontinuing an MAOI and starting to take Vyvanse, so that the MAOI has completely worked out of your system. Taking the two drugs together increases the risk of a dangerous hypertensive crisis.

Other problematic medications commonly used to treat bipolar disorder may include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, especially Norpramin (desipramine) and Vivactil (protriptyline), which may cause a significant increase in the amount of Vyvanse in the body
  • Haldol (haloperidol), which may make Vyvanse less effective
  • Lithium, which may also make Vyvanse less effective

Warnings

  • Vyvanse is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a strong potential for abuse and addiction, but also has legitimate medical uses. Misuse can lead to serious heart problems and sudden death. Psychosis is a common sign of continual intoxication.
  • Patients should be screened for existing heart ailments before starting Vyvanse. There is a risk of a number of cardiovascular problems with this medication. Stroke, heart attack, sudden death, and high blood pressure have been reported.
  • At proper doses in clinical trials, the emergence of psychotic symptoms or mania was rare—only 0.1% of participants reported them. However, the danger increases when the drug is abused.

Stimulants like Vyvanse can sometimes induce a mixed/manic episode for people with bipolar disorder. Before prescribing Vyvanse, your doctor may screen you for risk factors like a history of depressive symptoms or a family history of bipolar disorder, depression, or suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Common Side Effects

Common and less serious side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Serious Side Effects

Possible serious side effects include:

  • Aggression
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Long-term suppression of growth
  • Pain and fatigue in the limbs
  • Psychiatric reactions
  • Seizures
  • Tics
  • Visual disturbances

Vyvanse During Pregnancy

Animal data show that Vyvanse may be harmful to the fetus, meaning it should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefits outweigh the risks. This medication is excreted in breast milk and should not be taken while breastfeeding, as it may cause harm to the infant.

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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) capsules. Updated July 2021.

  2. PubChem. Hazardous substances data bank: Lisdexamfetamine. Updated April 14, 2017.

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