Elvanse® For ADHD: What You Need To Know
Nov 1, 2023, 6 min read
If you live with the symptoms of ADHD, or have a loved one who does, you may be curious about the different treatment options available for this condition. From therapy interventions to medications, there are a number of ways to manage the symptoms of ADHD.
Here, we are putting a medication called Elvanse® under the microscope to discover what it is, how it works, how it can help people with ADHD, when and how it is prescribed, and more.
At Augmentive, we aim to provide holistic, tailored mental health support to everyone so they can live their life to the fullest, so if you have questions about ADHD treatment options, we’re here to help.
What is ADHD?
In adults, ADHD symptoms may cause things like trouble focusing, impulsive behaviours, and an inability to pay attention. Living with these symptoms can mean everyday activities are disrupted, like learning, studying, working, organising, managing time, remembering things, or getting things done.
ADHD symptoms can look different in children, as they may find it difficult to play quietly, or take instructions without distraction. In some cases, ADHD can make them hyperactive.
ADHD looks different for everyone – for example, it can present differently in girls than in boys, showing less hyperactive features and more inattentiveness. It can also exist under the surface and not be obvious to people around the individual. You can read more about this in our article: What Is The ADHD Iceberg & Why Is It Important?
What is Elvanse®?
Elvanse® is the EU brand name for a drug called Lisdexamfetamine which is used to treat ADHD in children ages 6 and older. You may also have seen it called Vyvanse®, which is the brand name in the US.
It is classified as a central nervous system stimulant, so it can help to improve things like focus, attention and impulse control in people with ADHD. Elvanse® is available as a capsule in various doses up to 70mg, but in the beginning individuals will usually be instructed to take 30mg once a day. The dosage may be increased over time if necessary.
Treatment of ADHD often involves a combination of different elements, so medications such as Elvanse® are used in addition to other psychological interventions that are all designed to relieve the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults, and help them better manage day-to-day life.
How does Elvanse® work for ADHD?
Elvanse® is the brand name for Lisdexamfetamine, which works for ADHD as it is metabolised within the body to become a type of amphetamine. This influences the levels of certain brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which can sometimes be imbalanced in those with ADHD. As a result, Elvanse® can help promote improved concentration, impulse regulation and a reduction in hyperactivity.
Studies have found that Vyvanse® (the US version of Elvanse®) can improve ADHD symptoms for up to 14 hours, which is longer than other long-acting ADHD medications which are known to improve symptoms for around 10 to 12 hours.
Who could benefit from Elvanse®, and when might it be prescribed to them?
Elvanse®, or Lisdexamfetamine, can be a useful ADHD treatment option in children aged 6 or older. It is typically used as an alternative treatment when an individual with ADHD has not responded well to previous ADHD therapies, including medications such as Methylphenidate. It may also be used when non-pharmacological interventions such as behavioural therapy have been insufficient.
The NHS tends to offer Elvanse® to teenagers and children with ADHD aged 5 and over if they have undergone at least 6 weeks of treatment with methylphenidate and have seen no improvements. Elvanse® may be offered to adults as a first-choice medication, depending on their symptoms and medical history.
Like other ADHD medications, Elvanse® is often used alongside other forms of therapy to help manage ADHD, including recommended lifestyle adjustments.
Does Elvanse® have any side effects?
Most medications come with side effects, and Elvanse® is no different. If you start to take this medication, your prescribing doctor or specialist should explain the various possible side effects to you.
Some of the most common side effects of taking Lisdexamfetamine for ADHD include:
- Feeling jittery, increased anxiety and/or increased heart rate
- Stomach issues such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, constipation or upper stomach pain
- Decreased appetite or weight loss (One study found that 23.5% of participants reported decreased appetite)
- Sleep issues (One study found that 18% of participants reported insomnia)
- Irritability and agitation (One study found that 16% of participants reported agitation, and 15.9% reported aggression)
- Dry mouth (One study found that 33.3% of participants reported dry mouth)
You should be aware of any side effects you notice when you begin taking a new medication, and monitor how they progress. If the effects are mild they may disappear on their own in a few days or weeks, but if you have any concerns at all, speak to your doctor or specialist.
It is important to also be aware of some more serious side effects that can occur when taking Elvanse®, which may include:
- Allergic reactions such as skin rashes or facial swelling
- Mental health concerns such as extreme mood changes, suicidal thoughts or hallucinations
- Heart issues such as chest pain or tightness, an irregular heart rate or high blood pressure
- Vision problems such as changes in vision or blurred vision
- Neurological concerns such as confusion, trouble speaking, seizures, severe headaches, or uncontrollable physical movements
If you are taking a type of Lisdexamfetamine and start to experience any of the above side effects, you should see your doctor or prescribing specialist immediately.
Important: Elvanse® comes with warnings to avoid taking it if you have heart or blood pressure problems, circulation problems, or mental health concerns. You should also consult your doctor if you are taking tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, serotonergic drugs, or medications that acidify or alkalinize your urine.
How is someone prescribed Elvanse®?
At Augmentive, we believe advice and support for those with ADHD should always be bespoke and tailored to the individual to help with their specific symptoms, so if you are interested in an Elvanse® prescription – either for yourself or a loved one – we recommend speaking to a professional who can listen to your symptoms and create the best possible treatment plan for you.
You can read more in our article: What Is Involved In A Private ADHD Assessment?
Being prescribed Elvanse®, or Lisdexamfetamine, typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a doctor or qualified ADHD specialist who will assess your ADHD, diagnose you (if relevant), and create a treatment plan based on your age, other health conditions, and severity of your ADHD. This may include a prescription of a medication such as Elvanse®, and they will monitor your progress with regular follow-up appointments.
Remember, Elvanse® should only be used under the supervision and guidance of a medical professional in order to monitor any adverse side effects.
If you would like to speak to someone about your ADHD symptoms and discuss possible treatment plans, the first step is to reach out to either your GP or to a private specialist who can discuss a combination of medication (here’s a guide to ADHD medication in the UK) and/or different types of therapies such as psychoeducation, cognitive behavioural therapy, and more.
If you have a question about mental health, or specifics like ADHD burnout, we’re here to assist on your journey. Our free 15 minute consultation can guide you to the most relevant specialists to answer your questions and discuss next steps.
Whether you’re feeling off-kilter or want to shake up your routine, our state-of-the-art mental wellbeing platform gives you quick and seamless access to world-class support on your terms, from a private ADHD diagnosis or review, to broader private mental health care.