Strattera (atomoxetene HCl) is a medication used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, not to be confused with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as Prozac or Zoloft. Strattera is used as a replacement for (not in conjunction with) medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

If you think of the norepinephrine cycle in an ADHD patient as a water pump system, Ritalin sqeezes water through in a single burst to give the illusion of normalcy, whereas Strattera fixes the pipes themselves, allowing for an enduring solution.

Researchers believe that an imbalance of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) causes ADHD. Similarly, an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin contributes to the various forms of depression. In order to stabilize the imbalance of norepinephrine in the brain, psychiatrists have two options. Either add more norepinephrine into the brain, or attempt to control the reuptake process of the neurotransmitter. The latter technique is the goal of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. However, these stimulants are powerful, and can easily be abused. Moreover, they are fast working medicines and accidental ingestion can prove harmful right away. These prescription stimulants are often used in place of amphetamines by drug abusers. For these reasons, Ritalin and Adderall are controlled substances in the eyes of the federal government.

Strattera, on the other hand, is not a controlled substance. Strattera works by regulating the amount of norepinephrine already in the brain, not by adding more norepinephrine. The brain responds to norepinephrine while the neurotransmitter is in the cleft, or the liquid space around the neurons. An ADHD patient does not have enough norepinephrine in the cleft, so her mood and perhaps her personality are effected. Strattera works by binding to the pumps which reuptake neurotransmitters back into the neuron, where they become ineffective. Strattera essentially provides a filter which will block norepinephrine but allow other neurotransmitters to pass through. The result is an increased amounts of norepinephrine in the cleft; Strattera achieves the same goal of the stimulant medication without adding more stimulants into the brain.

A) Before Strattera               B) After Strattera
 neuron        cleft
       ____                               ____       
______/    \                       ______/    \    .  .
        . .|=.    .                         . |=#   . .
       . . |    .  .                          |    . . .
______  .  |=     .                ______  .  |=#   . . 
      \____/    .   .                    \____/       .
             norepinephrine                     Strattera   

I've taken serotonin, and I've taken selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. I've taken Ritalin and Adderall, but I've never taken Strattera. I'm going to go ahead and guess what Strattera may feel like after buildup occurs, which normally takes four days. Stimulants come on fast, then you crash. Likewise, pure serotonin hits you hard then leaves you dry. However, when you take Prozac, or some other SSRI, you have an extended feeling of increased serotonin. My guess is that Strattera will give you a sort of perma-stimulation that you do not come down from, until you stop taking the once-a-day pill. This could get interesting.


A friend of mine, we'll call her Kelly, began taking Strattera last weekend. Five days later, I have noticed a real change. I was the second person to mention to her that she had changed. She is noticably calmer, and I can actually get a word in during our conversations. She was a fabulous person before *and* after Strattera. However, I think she is more personable now. Regardless, I would not be upset if she decided to revert to her normal condition of norepinephrine deficiency.

Instant Messenger conversation with user of the drug:

DHoFF166: dud this straterra
DHoFF166: is the shit
briglass: for real?
briglass: did you read my writeup on it?
DHoFF166: for the last 2 days i wake up 3 min before my alarm went off
DHoFF166: and i'm not tired either
DHoFF166: it's like my dreams have come true
DHoFF166: i'm ready and willing to goto classes
briglass: really?
briglass: that is crazy
briglass: strattera, eh?
briglass: did u read my writeup on it?
DHoFF166: yup yup
DHoFF166: where
briglass: u did?
DHoFF166: no
briglass: hold up
DHoFF166: where did you do a write up
briglass: e2
briglass: there
DHoFF166: i'm sending this to my shrink

Names have been changed to protect the medicated...

mblase says You're right that Strattera takes time to "build up" in the body -- about a week with regular daily use, I'm told. Takes just as long to come off of it. Some people seem to prefer it, others seem to suffer nausea strong enough to keep them from wanting to take it instead of stimulant drugs. YMMV.