Vyvanse for Treating ADHD in Children

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Vyvanse is a stimulant medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2007.

Vyvanse for ADHD

Vyvanse is a once-a-day treatment for adults and children who are six to 12 years old with ADHD. It's also approved to treat binge-eating disorder in adults. The main ingredient in Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate.

Vyvanse is unique in that it's a prodrug or "conditionally bioreversible derivative" of dextroamphetamine, an amphetamine that's one of the main ingredients in Adderall, Adderall XR, and Dexedrine Spansules. By helping to increase levels of two brain chemicals, dopamine and norepinephrine, stimulants like Vyvanse work to increase alertness, attention, and energy.

Advantages of Vyvanse

Unlike other stimulants, however, Vyvanse has to go through the stomach and be digested before it can become active. That means it's much less likely to be abused since the drug can't be snorted, smoked, or injected like other ADHD medicines.

Another potential benefit of Vyvanse is that it lasts longer—up to 14 hours, compared with other long-acting ADHD medicines that tend to last 10 to 12 hours. Vyvanse is also released at the same levels over time and produces a slow, steady therapeutic effect. As researchers in a 2014 analysis of studies on Vyvanse reported, this potentially avoids the large/fast increases in dopamine that are associated with the reinforcing effects of drug abuse, which allows for a consistent effect throughout the day.


Vyvanse is available in seven dosage strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and 70 mg. 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.

Vyvanse can be taken either with or without food. If your child doesn't like chewable drugs and can't swallow the Vyvanse capsules, you can open them and either sprinkle it onto a small amount of food or into a few ounces of water. This is another benefit over other "beaded" ADHD stimulant medicines, which don't dissolve in liquids.

Side Effects

Side effects of Vyvanse are similar to other ADHD stimulants and most commonly include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

Interestingly, side effects—especially appetite suppression—seem to quickly decrease over time.


Like other stimulant medications, Vyvanse should not be used by children with the following conditions:

  • Heart disease or hardening of the arteries
  • Moderate to severe high blood pressure
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Glaucoma
  • High state of anxiety, tension, or agitation

Vyvanse should also not be used by kids who have a history of drug abuse, who are taking or have taken within the past 14 days an anti-depression medicine (monoamine oxidase inhibitor or MAOI), or who are sensitive to, allergic to, or had a reaction to other stimulant medicines.

Should Your Child Try Vyvanse?

Vyvanse may be an especially good option if your child's current medication isn't lasting long enough throughout the day, or if you're worried your child may be abusing his or her medicine.

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