Clonidine as a drug of choice for ADHD

Catapres (clonidine) is a drug originally approved for the treatment of patients with hypertension. However, because of its calming effect on the body, clonidine has been found to help people with symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, excessive arousal, and difficulty sleeping.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved Kapvay, a sustained-release version of clonidine, as a drug for the treatment of children 6 years of age and older with ADHD. It can be taken alone or with stimulant drugs.

Stimulants and non-stimulants

ADHD drugs are usually classified as stimulants or non-stimulants. Clonidine is a class of drugs called central-acting alpha-agonist antihypertensive drugs and is considered a non-stimulant treatment for ADHD.

Stimulants, also known as psychostimulants, are usually the drugs of choice for the treatment of ADHD. They are the most prescribed ADHD drugs because they provide the most effective way to reduce symptoms such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. There are two types of ADHD stimulant drugs:

If ADHD patients cannot tolerate stimulant drugs due to severe side effects, non-stimulant drugs are usually prescribed. Certain health conditions can also prevent the use of stimulants, such as certain mental disorders, sleep disorders, cardiovascular diseases, or a history of stimulant abuse.

Strattera (tomoxetine), the antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion), and Qelbree (veloprazine approved by the FDA in 2021) are examples of other non-stimulant drugs. An antihypertensive drug called Intuniv (guanfacine) is another.

How doping works

The role of stimulant ADHD drugs is to produce more dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain’s synapses. This stimulates the central nervous system and improves cognitive function. Due to the stimulation of the nervous system, some people report that they feel nervous, anxious, and nervous when they take stimulant drugs.

The role of clonidine

Clonidine causes your brain to send signals to your blood vessels to relax them, thereby lowering your blood pressure. In addition, clonidine affects norepinephrine in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is where the executive functions of the brain occur, such as planning, organizing, and using information and experience. These effects calm your body, but concentrate your mind.

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Pros and cons of clonidine


  • Not helpful for all ADHD demos

  • Little research on adults

  • Not as effective as stimulants

  • May cause brain fog

  • May cause drowsiness

  • May cause erectile dysfunction


Clonidine has some advantages and can help people with ADHD, especially children.

  • Can enhance the effect of stimulants: In addition to stimulant drugs, clonidine can also be prescribed, which usually enhances the effectiveness of stimulants.
  • Anorexia effect: Clonidine is appetite neutral, which means it does not increase or decrease appetite. Stimulants usually suppress appetite, which can be a problem for people who are underweight.
  • Effective for children: A meta-analysis of 73 studies examined the effects of six different ADHD drugs on children between 6 and 18 years of age. Among the three non-stimulants included, clonidine is considered the most effective and tolerated compared to atomoxetine and extended-release guanfacine. (Wellbutrin was excluded due to lack of evidence.)
  • Reduce anxiety: People with ADHD also often feel anxious. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax (alprazolam) or Valium (diazepam), are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. However, these may form habits and negatively affect cognitive functions such as attention. For this reason, clonidine is often used to help ADHD patients with anxiety disorders.
  • Help solve sleep difficulties: Sleep problems are another problem faced by many ADHD patients. One potential positive effect of taking clonidine is that it can help improve sleep. In fact, some doctors prescribe low-dose clonidine off-label (which means using FDA-approved drugs for unapproved purposes) to help sleep.
  • Not addictive: Although traditional stimulant drugs may form a habit and therefore may be avoided, clonidine is not considered addictive.
  • Lower blood pressure: If you suffer from ADHD and high blood pressure, clonidine may be a good choice for you because it also helps lower your blood pressure.
  • Can treat tic disorders: If you have Tourette’s syndrome or other tic disorders and ADHD at the same time, clonidine can help relieve the symptoms of both.


Clonidine is not for everyone. If you are considering taking clonidine, you should be aware of some of its disadvantages.

  • Not helpful for all manifestations of ADHD: Clonidine helps with ADHD, impulsivity, aggression, excessive wakefulness and difficulty sleeping. However, it has not been found to be helpful for the symptoms of ADHD.
  • There are few studies on adult ADHD: studies have shown that clonidine can help children and adolescents with ADHD symptoms, but clonidine is usually not used in adults with ADHD. This may be because the most helpful symptoms of clonidine, such as aggression, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, tend to decrease in adulthood.
  • Not as effective as stimulants: Clonidine is not as effective as stimulants in treating ADHD symptoms. However, its effect is sufficient for the FDA to approve it for ADHD.
  • May cause brain fog: Some people find that clonidine does not improve concentration, but instead reduces their concentration or causes brain fog. When your body adjusts to the Coke timing, the problem of inattention may be temporary. However, some people find that this problem continues.
  • May cause drowsiness: Although clonidine can help solve sleep problems at night, some people who take clonidine also feel tired or calm during the day. This can have a negative impact on school or work performance. Sometimes, sleepiness will decrease over time. This is an important side effect and needs to be discussed with your doctor because it can be dangerous if you drive a vehicle or operate a machine.
  • May cause erectile dysfunction (ED): One disadvantage of men taking clonidine is ED. Although you may feel embarrassed about talking to your doctor about ED, they will realize that this is a possible side effect and want to help you solve the problem.

Form and dosage

When using Coke for the first time, usually use the lowest dose. This may take 0.05 to 0.1 milligrams (mg) to start. Your doctor will gradually increase the dose until an effective (therapeutic) dose is found. Catapres tablets are available in 0.1mg, 0.2mg and 0.3mg. Kapvay is an extended version that can provide 0.1mg.

Clonidine is also available in patch form with a validity period of 7 days. They are a good choice if you tend to forget to take medicines or if you don’t like to swallow pills.

After using the tablet to determine the therapeutic dose, you can choose to use clonidine patch. It may take several weeks to see the full effect of clonidine on ADHD symptoms, but you may see some improvement sooner.

Side effects of clonidine

These side effects usually disappear after you take the medicine for a while, but if they are not or are troublesome, please consult your doctor:

  • Behavior problem
  • constipate
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • fatigue
  • Headache
  • irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomit

Rare but serious side effects

If you experience these or any other unusual or persistent side effects, please contact your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • measles
  • hoarse
  • Arrhythmia
  • rash
  • Slow heart rate
  • Swelling in any part of the body

Precautions for taking clonidine

If you have a history of low blood pressure, you may be more likely to feel dizzy, dizzy, and nauseous when taking Coke.

Many people forget to take medicine. If you miss a dose of clonidine, please do not take a double dose as it will lower your blood pressure too much.

It is important not to stop taking clonidine suddenly, as this may cause a rebound in blood pressure. Instead, your dose should be gradually reduced. Your doctor can advise you on the best schedule for weight reduction.

Clonidine may be unsafe for unborn babies, and it can be found in breast milk. Animal studies have also shown that clonidine may damage the fertility of women and men. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant, please consult your doctor. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of continuing medication.

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Although clonidine is not usually the first choice treatment for ADHD, it can help some people, either alone or in combination with another medication. If you are interested in clonidine as a treatment option, please consult your doctor. They will help you decide if it is right for you.