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How Does Atomoxetine Work?

It is not known exactly how atomoxetine produces a calming effect. It is known, however, that it affects norepinephrine, a chemical in the brain. Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which means that it increases the level of norepinephrine that can be used by brain cells.
Unlike other ADHD medications, atomoxetine is not a stimulant and is not likely to be abused. Also, because it is not a controlled substance, the rules for prescribing and dispensing it are much less strict. Unlike prescriptions for stimulants, atomoxetine prescriptions can be faxed or phoned to your pharmacy and can be refilled without getting a new prescription each time (if your healthcare provider approves).

Clinical Effects

There have been several studies looking at using atomoxetine for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. Some of the results of these ADHD research studies are included below:
ADHD in Children and Teenagers
In previous clinical studies, children and teenagers with ADHD who took atomoxetine had significant behavior improvements, compared to those who did not take the medication. These studies included children and teens ages 6 to 18 years.
Adult ADHD
The medication was also studied in people with adult ADHD. It was shown to be effective for treating adult ADHD symptoms.

When and How to Take Atomoxetine

Some general considerations for when and how to take this medication include:
  • Atomoxetine comes in capsule form. It should be taken by mouth once or twice a day.
  • If taken once daily, the medication should be taken in the morning. If taken twice daily, it should be taken in the morning and in the late afternoon or early evening.
  • Swallow the capsules whole with a drink of water (or another beverage). Do not open the atomoxetine capsules -- the medication inside can be irritating to the eyes.
  • You can take it with or without food. If the medication bothers your stomach, try taking it with food.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Atomoxetine will not work if you stop taking it.
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