Compare Focalin vs. Strattera

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Focalin
(dexmethylphenidate)

Strattera
(atomoxetine)

Helps you focus and stay alert. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD that's available as a generic, but it's a stimulant, so it can cause insomnia and other side effects.Helps you focus and stay alert. Strattera (Atomoxetine) isn't considered a first-line medication for ADHD, but since it isn't a stimulant, it's still highly recommended.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.45Focalin
Reviews for Focalin
55%
of people (All ages) say Focalin is worth it
35%
say it works well
21%
say it's a big hassle
141 reviews
Have you used Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Strattera
46%
+9% better vs. Focalin
32%
+3% better vs. Focalin
24%
+3% better vs. Focalin
Have you used Strattera (atomoxetine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
FocalinStrattera

We haven’t found good data for Focalin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
  • Headache 4%
  • Abdominal pain 8%
  • Decreased appetite 12%
  • Vomiting 5%
  • Somnolence 7%
  • Changes in heart rate or blood pressure 10%
  • Nausea 5%
  • Fatigue 5%
  • Irritability 3%
  • Dizziness 3%
More Strattera side effects »
How it works
FocalinStrattera
Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a stimulant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.Strattera (Atomoxetine) is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (non-stimulant). Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.
Type of medication
FocalinStrattera
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
FocalinStrattera
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
Used for
FocalinStrattera
Risk factors for serious side effects
FocalinStrattera
  • Taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) 14 days before starting
  • History of drug abuse
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
Detailed Focalin (dexmethylphenidate) risks & warnings »
  • Age below 18
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Starting Strattera (Atomoxetine) before puberty
Detailed Strattera (atomoxetine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Alcohol
FocalinStrattera
  • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
No alcohol related info.
Upsides and benefits
FocalinStrattera
  • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
  • Available as a generic medication.
  • Available in both an immediate-release form, which is given twice a day, and an extended-release form, which is given once a day.
  • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
  • One of the few medications used to treat ADHD that's not a stimulant.
  • It isn't a controlled substance.
  • Strattera (Atomoxetine) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
  • You usually only need to take it once a day.
Downsides and risks
FocalinStrattera
  • Needs to be taken in the morning and early afternoon, or else it can cause insomnia later that night.
  • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
  • It's a second-line medication used to treat ADHD. Other medications are usually tried first.
  • It's only available as a brand name medication, so it can be expensive.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
FocalinStrattera
  • Store Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) in a locked area to prevent abuse.
  • Take it early in the morning to prevent insomnia later that night.
  • It can cause changes in your mood and vision.
  • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
  • The extended-release capsules can be opened and sprinkled on a small amount of applesauce.
  • Common side effects include a decreased appetite, nausea, and insomnia.
  • It can cause changes in sex drive.
  • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
  • It can also cause changes in your mood.
  • Take it at the same time every day.
  • Common side effects include decreased appetite, nausea, and constipation.
  • The capsules can't be opened and need to be swallowed whole.
Learn more
More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about StratteraSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Strattera (atomoxetine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it