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Pros and Cons of Clonidine for ADHD

Сlonidine for ADHD
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Wafaa Amjad Dar



Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs. Read more

Clonidine, also known under the brand name Kapvay, is a non-stimulant drug used as a second-line treatment for ADHD. While stimulant medications are typically the first-line choice for this disorder, they may not be suitable in every case. These patients can benefit more from clonidine for ADHD.

This article discusses the effectiveness and side effects of Clonidine for ADHD in adults. Here are all the details you need to know.

ADHD experts can prescribe the right medication for you. Get started!

What is Clonidine Used for?

Clonidine belongs to a group of medications known as alpha-adrenergic agonists. These medications increase blood flow by relaxing blood arteries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA [1*] ) initially approved clonidine to treat high blood pressure and ADHD. There may be additional uses: doctors may prescribe clonidine for anxiety as it can help the frequency and intensity of panic attacks.

Clonidine ER (Kapvay) can be used alone or in combination with stimulant drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. People whose ADHD symptoms persist despite taking stimulants or antidepressants are prescribed clonidine as a possible alternative. For those who cannot handle the side effects of other ADHD medications, such as those with sleep issues, addiction problems, cardiovascular disease, or psychiatric disorders, clonidine may potentially be an alternative.

Considering that clonidine affects alpha-2 adrenergic receptors in the central nervous system, it may aid people who exhibit impulsive, hyperactive, and/or inattentive behaviors. Hence, blocking these receptors with a medication like clonidine may lessen symptoms [2*] caused by these behaviors.

How Long Does Clonidine Take to Work?

Since clonidine is not a stimulant, it may take longer for a person with ADHD to feel the effects than it would with a stimulant. Your ADHD symptoms may improve within a few weeks [3*] after starting medication. The exact estimated time depends on individual factors. To receive a prescription, discuss your ADHD symptoms with a qualified medical professional and get a diagnosis.

Clonidine Dosage for ADHD

Clonidine is available in extended-release tablets. Your doctor may initially advise taking 0.1 mg once daily at bedtime. However, the dosage of this medication will vary depending on the patient, and your doctor will raise it if necessary. The maximum dosage of clonidine is 0.4mg/day. Check your doctor’s instructions or the label’s instructions before you start treatment.

Pros and Cons of Kapvay (Clonidine) for ADHD

Although clonidine is a good alternative for individuals who don’t respond to stimulant drugs, it has drawbacks as well. The benefits and drawbacks of clonidine for ADHD are listed below.



  • Contrary to stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD, clonidine ER has no addiction potential.

  • It can be used alone or with other ADHD drugs.

  • The advantages of stimulant ADHD drugs can be increased or prolonged by clonidine.

  • There may be fewer side effects compared to stimulants.

  • It could make you feel drowsy and sedated.

  • Sudden discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms such as rebound hypertension.

  • Compared to other non-stimulants like guanfacine, clonidine does not last as long.

  • FDA-approved non-stimulant drugs are only available for a few age ranges. Kapvay is not approved for use by children younger than 6 years.

Contact a doctor if you experience any side effects. We will help adjust your treatment plan.

How long does clonidine take to work

Clonidine: Side Effects

Even when the medication is working, it can cause negative side effects. Common side effects of Clonidine [4*] include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Aggression
  • Stomach pain

Certain major health problems can be brought on by clonidine ER (Kapvay). For some groups, this danger might even be greater:

  • Those who have a history of low blood pressure or low heart rate.
  • Patients taking other medications that cause sedation or sleepiness.
  • Those who have high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • People having kidney problems.
  • People who have had an allergic reaction to other forms of clonidine.
  • People with heart problems or an abnormal EKG history.


Despite not being the first choice, Clonidine for ADHD may be beneficial for some people. It can be prescribed alone or in conjunction with other stimulants or non-stimulants. To know if clonidine is a good treatment option for you or if you need an alternative for better effect, consult MEDvidi doctors. After conducting a detailed symptoms check and making a diagnosis, they will develop a personalized treatment plan for you.


4 sources
  1. KAPVAY® (Clonidine hydrochloride)
    Source link
  2. Clonidine Benefits Children with Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity: Report of a Double-Blind Placebo-Crossover Therapeutic Trial. (1985)
    Source link
  3. Clonidine (Kapvay and Catapres)
    Source link
  4. Pharmacokinetics and side-effects of clonidine. (1978)
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Wafaa Amjad Dar



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.