Vyvanse Headaches: Symptoms & How To Avoid Them

Vyvanse, along with other central nervous system stimulant drugs approved to treat child, adolescent, and adult ADHD symptoms, may trigger two different types of headaches.

Vyvanse Headaches: Symptoms & How To Avoid Them

Vyvanse is a brand-name medication prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and binge eating disorder. It contains the active ingredient lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, a prodrug for dextroamphetamine.

This stimulant can cause a variety of common side effects when taken, including mild and/or severe headaches, which may or may not be considered migraines.

How To Avoid Vyvanse Headaches

There are a few different strategies that you can take to avoid or reduce this uncomfortable but possible side effect:

  • take Vyvanse on a full stomach
  • drink plenty of water
  • take an over-the-counter pain reliever like aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), or Advil (ibuprofen)
  • change your dosing schedule so your medication wears off when you are asleep, not during the day
  • take a low dose calcium channel blocker an hour before taking Vyvanse
  • switch to another stimulant medication like Adderall (amphetamine salts), Ritalin (methylphenidate), Concerta (methylphenidate), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), or Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)

Mild Vyvanse Headaches Vs. Vyvanse Migraines

Vyvanse, along with other central nervous system stimulant drugs approved to treat child, adolescent, and adult ADHD symptoms, may trigger two different types of headaches:

  • mild headaches in the back of the head that likely occur as the dose wears off
  • “whole head” headaches or migraines that last throughout the dose and often afterwards as well

Mild headaches are considered a rebound phenomenon, and are often easy to treat or avoid using the less-intensive methods outlined above.

“Whole head” headaches are a more severe and difficult condition, and may cause patients to discontinue their medication.

Why Vyvanse Sometimes Causes Headaches

There are several theories and explanations for why Vyvanse use, as well as the use of other stimulants, has been linked to headaches and migraines.

Stimulant Withdrawal

Stimulant headaches may occur because the body is reacting to the drug wearing off at the end of the dose’s effect. This is considered a mild withdrawal symptom, and is resolved by redosing or adjusting the timing of your dosage.

Loss Of Appetite

Another common side effect of Vyvanse is a reduced appetite, an effect that healthcare providers exploit when prescribing Vyvanse to treat binge eating disorder.

If a person’s appetite is suppressed, they may go without adequate food, leading to a drop in blood sugar and, potentially, a hunger or fasting headache.

Genetic/Biological Links

According to healthcare professionals, those who experience migraines in response to ADHD meds likely have either a personal or strong family history of vascular headaches or migraines.

This connection may involve low dopamine levels (a factor in both conditions) as well as increased sensitivity to changes in dopamine levels.

In addition, many studies have linked ADHD to significantly increased personal stress and anxiety, decreases in overall mental health, and an increased risk of chronic migraines. These links are even stronger when the condition is left untreated.

While Vyvanse can improve a patient’s mental space by controlling ADHD symptoms and providing increasing mental clarity, the increased neurotransmitter levels caused by stimulant prescription drugs may trigger a migraine in some patients, or intensify the pain they feel.

Calcium channel blockers are considered an effective treatment in 95% of these migraine cases, and can likely be discontinued after a month or two without the headaches recurring.

Serotonin Syndrome

Taking Vyvanse with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) may cause a serious or fatal drug interaction known as serotonin syndrome.

Taking it with less-potent, common serotonergic drugs or supplements (including certain migraine medications, MDMA, St. John’s wort, certain antidepressants, and others) can also trigger this reaction, which may involve headaches and a range of other symptoms like:

  • agitation
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • shivering
  • goosebumps

Other Potential Vyvanse Side Effects

A more complete list of common side-effects linked to Vyvanse use includes:

  • constipation
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • feelings of anxiety
  • feelings of irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • restlessness
  • trouble sleeping
  • upper stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

These side effects are generally not serious, and should fade as the body adapts to the new medication.

Effects Of Vyvanse Abuse

In higher doses, which are commonly taken in cases of stimulant drug abuse, Vyvanse may cause serious-side effects including:

  • mild euphoria
  • rapid heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • chest pain
  • sweating
  • hyperfocus
  • racing thoughts
  • psychosis
  • impaired inhibition
  • impaired judgment
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • anger or violent impulses
  • dependence or addiction
  • cardiovascular damage

In rare cases, Vyvanse abuse may cause sudden death due to heart attack or stroke in those with heart problems.

Stimulant drug abuse is a dangerous practice, both in the short and long term. If you or a loved one have been dealing with Vyvanse abuse, dependence, or addiction, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.