ADHD Treatment Vyvanse for Treating ADHD in Children It works longer and has less potential for abuse than other stimulants By Vincent Iannelli, MD Vincent Iannelli, MD Facebook Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years. Learn about our editorial process Updated on April 29, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Nick David / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Is Vyvanse? Vyvanse for ADHD Before Taking Dosage Side Effects Warnings and Interactions Vyvanse is a stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are often the first line of medications prescribed for this condition due to their effectiveness in treating ADHD symptoms. Vyvanse was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007. What Is Vyvanse? Vyvanse is a once-a-day treatment for adults and children age 6 to 12 with ADHD. It's also approved to treat binge-eating disorder in adults. The main ingredient in Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate. The drug acts on the brain to boost the levels of two neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine. This, in turn, improves focus and attention and decreases impulsivity and hyperactive behavior. Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine) Uses and Side Effects Vyvanse for ADHD Vyvanse is unique in that it's a prodrug (or forerunner) of the drug dextroamphetamine, an amphetamine that's one of the main ingredients in Adderall, Adderall XR, and Dexedrine Spansule. This means Vyvanse isn't active in its ingested form; it must be metabolized and converted to dextroamphetamine. That delayed action—which can take one to two hours to take effect versus a half-hour for Adderall—can stretch out how long the drug works. In studies, Vyvanse lasted up to 14 hours, compared with other long-acting ADHD medicines that tend to last 10 to 12 hours. Because it's released at the same level over time and produces a slow, steady therapeutic effect throughout the day, Vyvanse is often described as "smoother" than Adderall—there's no "kick" or "jolt" to the system when the medication starts to work. This smoothness potentially avoids the sudden and dramatic increases in dopamine that are associated with substance abuse. Vyvanse may be a good option if your child's current medication isn't lasting long enough throughout the day, or if you're worried that they may become dependent on their medication. Vyvanse vs. Adderall: Similarities and Differences Before Your Child Takes Vyvanse Before prescribing Vyvanse, your child's doctor will look for signs of ADHD. They will also make sure that your child doesn't have any pre-existing health conditions that could prevent them from taking the medication safely, like: Glaucoma Family history of ventricular arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or sudden death Heart disease or hardening of the arteries High state of anxiety, tension, or agitation Hyperthyroidism Moderate to severe high blood pressure Vyvanse should not be used by kids who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken one within the past 14 days. Children who are sensitive to, allergic to, or have previously had a reaction to other stimulant medicines should also avoid taking Vyvanse. Talk to your child's doctor about all medications, supplements, and vitamins that they currently take. While some drugs pose minor interaction risks, others may outright contraindicate use or prompt careful consideration as to whether the pros of treatment outweigh the cons in your child's case. Dosage Vyvanse is available as oral capsules and chewable tablets, and it comes in several dosage strengths: 10 milligrams (mg)20 mg30 mg40 mg50 mg60 mg70 mg (only available in oral capsules) Although most children will start Vyvanse at the 30 mg dosage, a higher starting dose may be more appropriate if your child is switching to Vyvanse from another ADHD stimulant. Their doctor can increase their dosage in 10 mg increments each week if needed. Vyvanse is taken orally once daily. The first dose is typically taken first thing in the morning, with or without food, and it should be taken at the same time each day for the best results. This medication can cause insomnia if it's taken later in the day, so try to avoid putting your child on an afternoon dosage schedule. If your child missed their dose, have them take it as soon as you remember. If it's almost time for their next dose, wait and administer that one. If your child doesn't like chewable drugs and has trouble swallowing the Vyvanse capsules whole, you can open them and either sprinkle the beads onto a small amount of food or stir them into a few ounces of water or orange juice. Like other amphetamines, Vyvanse is a controlled substance. That means it has a high potential for abuse and it could lead to dependence. It should always be stored safely and securely, out of the reach of others. Side Effects Common Side effects of Vyvanse are similar to other ADHD stimulants and can include: Abdominal painConstipationCoughDecreased appetiteDiarrheaDizzinessDry mouthHeadachesInsomniaIrritabilityNausea and vomitingRespiratory irritation and congestionWeight loss Severe Vyvanse can also cause more severe side effects, like: Blood pressure increaseCirculation problemsSerious allergic reactions that can include anaphylaxis, skin swelling, welts, and Stevens-Johnson syndromeSudden death in children with known heart problemsSuppressed growthWorsened symptoms for children with mental health conditions Warnings and Interactions Like other stimulants, Vyvanse can be abused, and it is possible to overdose. If your child has had dependency issues with other stimulant medications, they shouldn't take Vyvanse. If you believe your child should no longer take Vyvanse, work closely with their doctor to slowly wean them off of the medication. Withdrawal symptoms are possible with stimulants, and stopping Vyvanse abruptly can cause depression and extreme fatigue. This medication hasn't been tested in children younger than 6. A Word From Verywell Medication is just one component of ADHD treatment. Your child may also benefit from learning new behavioral strategies and social skills to help them cope with their symptoms, and you may benefit from a support group for parents or from training programs designed to help you better understand your child's condition. How Is ADHD Treated for Children and Adults? 5 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. Food and Drug Administration. Drug approval package: Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) NDA #021977. Food and Drug Administration. VYVANSE® (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) label. Najib J, Wimer D, Zeng J, et al. Review of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Cent Nerv Syst Dis. 2017;9:1179573517728090. doi:10.1177/1179573517728090 Mattos P. Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Pharmacokinetics, efficacy and safety in children and adolescents. Arch Clin. 2014;41(2). doi:10.1590/0101-60830000000007 Coghill DR, Caballero B, Sorooshian S, Civil R. A systematic review of the safety of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate. CNS Drugs. 2014;28(6):497-511. doi:10.1007/s40263-014-0166-2 By Vincent Iannelli, MD Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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