My experience with atomoxetine (generic of Strattera)

Hi everyone,

I recently started on a generic prescription of atomoxetine (the brand name version is Strattera), and I’m starting this thread to record my experience with it.

Feel free to ask me questions.

Atomoxetine is a non-stimulant medication approved for treatment of ADHD. It is classed as an SNRI (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor).

  • It is sometimes listed as an SSNRI (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor).
  • It does not work in the same way as stimulant medications (such as Adderall or Ritalin), which are used up by the body the same day that they are taken.
  • Atomoxetine must be taken every day as prescribed (no “drug holidays”), because a sufficient level must be built up and maintained in the body, in the same way as SSRI medications (the meds used to treat depression and/or anxiety).
  • It can take up to 3-4 weeks for the full effect of this medication to be experienced.

A little background:

I was diagnosed with ADHD (Inattentive presentation) in September 2020 at the age of 45, and was diagnosed with anxiety at the same time. My ADHD traits are:

  • Difficulty sustaining attention with everyday tasks and work, particularly routine or drawn-out work (like analysis and project work).
  • I’m often easily distracted, be it by an external stimulus or even by random thoughts.
  • When conversing with others, I change topics frequently (usually about 5 times in 10 minutes), and often cannot recall what the original topic was, so I end up having to ask the other person: “What were we talking about?”
  • My sense of the passing of time is usually very elastic. Five minutes could seem like an hour, or an hour like five minutes.
  • My natural working memory is very limited. It is very difficult for me to hold lists of things or an ordered list of steps in memory. (The average person should be able to hold 7±2 items in memory. I’m limited to 2 or 3.) I can forget something that pops into my mind almost immediately, like in the time it takes to turn around or to pull my phone out of my pocket in order to write the thought down.
  • I have poor memory recall ability for names, facts, terminology.
  • I have always struggled with Time Management, Organization, Planning & Prioritization. When two or more things need doing, I usually can’t cannot which to do first. Even when I have one thing to do, but it has multiple steps, it can be hard to start the first step, because my mind gets stuck trying to think what the third, fourth, etc. step would be.
  • I will hyperfocus on random things (usually not what I need to focus on at the time).
  • I have a persistent brain-fog, which feels like it is in two places: in the front towards the top (often extending on both sides as far as my temples), and in the lower half of the back of my head.

If I could sum up the effects my ADHD traits in as few words as possible, they would be: indecisiveness, procrastination, distractibility, forgetfulness
…and worry (as the result of living with these traits on a daily basis).

My doctor started me on an anti-anxiety medication (an SSRI) for a month first. I had done my own research into ADHD, the presentation types, and ADHD medication before meeting with my doctor again. From the information that I had found, I asked him about trying atomoxetine first, but he decided to start me on Adderall and explained his decision with these two reasons: 1) he has seen a good response to Adderall with many of his patients who have ADHD, and 2) atomoxetine can have some very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

So, I started on one month of 10mg Adderall XR, and I experienced some improvement with attention and working memory, and alleviated the front half of the brain fog. I was only a little more productive, but I did feel better about myself overall. Still, I was hoping for more improvement.
The next month, my dosage was increased to 20mg. I noticed no further improvement with my ADHD traits, but I did notice having a fast heartbeat (about 110-115 BPM) about two hours after taking the Adderall for the first several days. I think that I was also more irritable in the evenings, and l after it wore off (I’m sometimes irritable in the evenings when I start to get worn out by the day, but this was noticeably happening every day).

  • After I reported the raised heart rate, and my doctor noticed that my heart rate was just over 100 BPM in the last two appointments, he took me off of Adderall completely and had me track my heart rate. It turns out, I just normally have a slightly-elevated heart rate, averaging about 100 BPM the whole waking day. (We both agree that I should exercise regularly, but I still haven’t made a habit of it.)
  • I practically begged to go back on Adderall, since my work was suffering. He put me on 5mg, which had almost no benefit. Then back on 10mg, which was as effective as it was before.
  • I was still struggling to get work done, but my wife had been ill for about three months at that point, and I was pulled in three directions caring for my wife, homeschooling our kids, and trying to take care of work responsibilities… Everything was only half-done, and the house became a mess. I was then informed that my work contract was not going to be renewed (with three-months notice, so I’m still receiving a paycheck, but I’m now looking for a new job).

At my last appointment with my doctor, I asked again about atomoxetine, and he agreed to give it a try. He also recommended that I take advantage of the Employee Assistance Plan available from my employer, for counseling due to losing my work contract and all the other struggles. (I was one step ahead of him; I had already called for a counseling appointment!)



Hey Barry!

I started this new thread to document my experience with atomoxetine.



Today is Monday, April 12, 2021.
Day 5:

  • Brain fog is gone. I sometimes feel a slight pressure or mild headache in the parts of my brain which used to be foggy all the time.
  • Working memory is better. I did a little test yesterday by going to the grocery store without a written list. It was for just 7 items, but I got them all AND remembered while I was there that the milk was running low, so I got all 8 items (the list, plus milk). Previously, I needed a written list to go for any more than 3 items.
  • Right now I’m planning all the things that I need to get done today. I can normally only think of 3 things before something gets bumped out of my working memory, but I’m able to keep at least five things that I need to do today in my memory.
  • And, I feel much more calm, less anxious.

I forgot to mention that back in January, my doctor and I agreed for me to go off the SSRI, since I didn’t seem to be oppressed by anxiety anymore.

Looking back on my life, I now recognize that I’m prone to minor bouts of anxiety, but that 3+ year-long struggle at work had put me into a major anxiety episode that didn’t go away without counseling AND medication.

The current issues in my life are stressful, which might develop into anxiety again, so I’ve already started seeing a psychologist for counseling. Since atomoxetine acts as an SSRI (as well as its function as an SNRI), I believe it is helping to keep anxiety at bay; it has been reported to help treat anxiety.


The positive effects of atomoxetine for me continue:

  • No more brain fog
  • Sense of time seems consistent with the rate they I think it ought to pass at
  • Working memory much improved
  • Short term memory somewhat improved
  • Much less distractible than normal
  • Somewhat more aware of what’s going on around me (I’m still naturally introverted, so I just spend a lot of time in my head)
  • More calm, less overcome by emotions (I ruminate on worry less and less likely to be cranky with my kids), but relieved that I still feel the full range of emotions
  • Much less prone to changing topics randomly during a conversation

Negative effect:

  • I feel like I am less creative, because ideas don’t spontaneously pop into my head as frequently than they used to

I experienced few side effects, and only when I first started on atomoxetine.

  • The first couple of days, about two hours after taking the medication I would feel a wave of sleepiness which lasted for up to a couple of hours
  • Mild headaches a few times within the first week

PILLS DON’T TEACH SKILLS, so now that I have better direct control of my mental faculties, I need to work on improving my habits, and put together the structure in my life which will help me rather than hinder me.

I still don’t know how I’ll be affected at work, since I’ve been put on leave for the remainder of my work contract. I haven’t been focused in my job hunt as I had intended to be (partly due to a lot going on with my family at the same time, but also fighting with my tendency for self-doubt and over-analyzing things).

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