ADHD and Tourette's? Try Strattera (Atomoxetine)
One of the most difficult things about ADD and ADHD is that these disorders are often accompanied by other disorders (called comorbids). One of these disorders is Tourette's Syndrome. Tourette's is actually has a spectrum in and of itself, and can include behaviors such as twitches, tics, vocal "spurts", erratic movements, and in some cases, impulsive foul language. What makes Tourette's so interesting is that it tends to bridge the gap between disorders that are often found on opposite sides of the spectrum with regards to brain chemistry.
Over half of Tourette's individuals are also co-diagnosed with either ADD/ADHD or OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). For individuals seeking treatment, the number of individuals with Tourette's that also have ADD or ADHD may be as high as 80%, according to some studies. ADHD is typically associated with low levels of the brain chemical dopamine in the front part of the brain, and high levels of serotonin. The latter, OCD, is typically affiliated with low serotonin and higher dopamine levels. Tourette's fits somewhere in between these two, from both a chemical and symptom-based standpoint.
Although there are a number of treatment options out there for ADHD, finding one that is effective in also treating the comorbid symptoms and disorders is also crucial. One of the reasons is that stimulants (such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall, or Concerta) often make several of the Tourette's symptoms, such as motor or vocal tics, worse. However, non-stimulant ADHD medications show some potential for treating these comorbid disorders. A likely reason is a different underlying chemical mechanism than that of stimulants. Several studies have indicated that the non-stimulant ADHD medication Strattera (Atomoxetine) has also been an effective treatment for Tourette's.
Although other drugs, such as Clonidine, have been tried and displayed positive results for a number of studies. However, Clonidine has also shown side effects such as sedation (drowsiness) in several different cases. While stimulants still serve as the primary mode of treatment for ADHD, we must be careful when the disorder is accompanied by other comorbid disorders, such as Tourette's. If this is the case, then non-stimulant medications such as Atomoxetine must be considered as viable alternatives in the ADHD medication world.
Monday, October 6, 2008