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J Fam Pract. 1999 Jan;48(1):15-20.

A comparative analysis of antidepressants and stimulants for the treatment of adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425-0001, USA.



Adults who identify themselves as having problems with attention and concentration will often make an office visit to request treatment with a stimulant medication, rather than an antidepressant. The uncertainty of the diagnosis and the prospect of a long-term prescription with a stimulant medication can create a dilemma for physicians.


We searched MEDLINE for any English-language studies of antidepressant or stimulant treatment of adults with attention deficits. References from relevant articles were reviewed to supplement the MEDLINE search.


Antidepressants and stimulants seem to be equally effective for adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Recent controlled studies suggest that desipramine (an antidepressant) may be as effective as methylphenidate (a stimulant) for improving symptoms of adult ADHD.


Although few good controlled studies exist, the available research suggests that certain antidepressants and stimulants are equally effective for adults with ADHD. Antidepressants may offer a safe first-line treatment for adults with ADHD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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