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Can medicines for depression help ADD?

Farzanna S. Haffizulla, MD
Internal Medicine
ADD, better known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is best treated with medication that has a stimulant effect on the central nervous system. Specifically, medication that increases the concentration of norepinephine at the nerve "junctions." The first line treatments include stimulant medication such as methylphenidate and amphetamines. These drugs on their own are not indicated for the treatment of depression. However, second line therapy for ADHD include tricyclic antidepressants and bupropion. These medication not only augment the stimulant response by increasing norepinephrine levels at the nerve synapses but they also increase serotonin levels at these nerve junctions and hence can improve depression. If the goal is to treat ADHD and depression sometimes a combination of a stimulant drug and an antidepressant such as the ones listed may benefit a patient.
William Wien
William Wien on behalf of MDLIVE
Family Medicine
While stimulants such as Ritalin and various forms of amphetamines are considered first-line therapies, many anti-depressants are used as 2nd, and even 1st-choice therapies for ADD. Examples include Wellbutrin (Bupropion), Effexor (Venlafaxine), and Prozac (Fluoxetine).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.