Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine) is a prodrug comprised of the amino acid L-lysine coupled with dextroamphetamine, hence its chemical name “lis-dexamfetamine.” As a prodrug, Vyvanse is inactive until ingested and enzymatically metabolized into l-lysine (an amino acid) and dextroamphetamine (a psychostimulant), the latter of which has been deemed effective for the treatment of ADHD and binge eating disorder. Although the medication is considered safe when administered at medically-prescribed dosages, most users will experience Vyvanse side effects while under its influence.
Vyvanse Side Effects (List of Possibilities)
Included below is a comprehensive list of side effects that you might experience while taking Vyvanse. Understand that side effects from any medication, including Vyvanse, are often subject to significant individual variation. In other words, the specific side effects, their respective severities, and total number of side effects that you experience will be unique to you.
That said, certain Vyvanse side effects are considered more common than others. According to data released by Shire, the manufacturer of Vyvanse, the most common side effects of Vyvanse include: anxiety, appetite reduction, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, irritability, nausea, sleep changes, stomach pain, vomiting, and weight loss. If you have questions about any particular side effect(s), it is recommended to speak with a medical professional.
- Anger: In certain individuals, Vyvanse may provoke anger as a side effect. The anger is probably related to increased irritability (one of the most common Vyvanse side effects). If Vyvanse makes you angrier than usual, and this anger is interfering with your ability to maintain healthy relationships, you’ll definitely want to discuss this side effect with your doctor. In some cases, anger might result of overstimulation and excessively high stress hormones. Decreasing the Vyvanse dosage might help reduce the severity of this side effect.
- Anxiety: It is common to experience increased anxiety after taking Vyvanse. The increased anxiety is probably due to an upregulation of excitatory neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. If you recently begun using Vyvanse, it’s possible that the anxiety may eventually fade as your brain is given more time to adjust to the neurochemical effects exerted by Vyvanse. That said, some individuals may need to speak with their doctors about reducing their dosage of Vyvanse as a result of the excessive anxiety.
- Appetite reduction: Vyvanse is understood to cause appetite loss or reduced appetite, hence its usage in the treatment of eating disorders (Read: Vyvanse for Binge Eating Disorder). Specifically, the dextroamphetamine component of Vyvanse triggers a release of dopamine in the brain’s reward system, which in turn, can diminish hunger. For this reason, you should not be surprised if your appetite is lower than usual during treatment. If your low appetite is resulting in rapid and/or unwanted weight loss, it is recommended to discuss this with your doctor. Moreover, if your appetite is abnormally low while taking Vyvanse, make sure that you’re consuming adequate calories and nutrients to maintain general health.
- Blood pressure increase: Vyvanse is known to cause high blood pressure in a subset of users. Generally speaking, the greater the dosage of Vyvanse administered, the greater the likelihood that its stimulatory effect will induce high blood pressure. Untreated or unrecognized high blood pressure as a result of treatment could lead to serious cardiovascular consequences such as left ventricular hypertrophy. For this reason, if you have a history of hypertension and/or cardiovascular abnormalities, it is recommended to carefully monitor your blood pressure while taking Vyvanse.
- Blurred vision: Though not common, some individuals will experience blurred vision as a side effect of Vyvanse. The blurred vision may be related to change in blood flow and/or neurotransmitter concentrations within the visual cortex. Nonetheless, if you experience this symptom, it is recommended to get an eye examination to rule out other medical causes.
- Constipation: A subset of Vyvanse users will experience constipation as a side effect of treatment. In some cases, the constipation will be short-lived such that it only occurs in the early stages of treatment as the body is adapting to the drug’s effects. If the constipation is persistent, you may want to evaluate your diet and ensure that you’re consuming adequate fiber, total calories, and are staying hydrated – as inadequate diet and/or hydration could increase likelihood of constipation as a side effect. Moreover, your doctor may be able to recommend some over-the-counter medications that might help with constipation.
- Depression: While many people use Vyvanse to treat depression, some individuals actually become depressed as a result of Vyvanse. Not everyone responds well to the neurochemical changes induced by Vyvanse such as increased levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, and this could result in a depressed mood. If you experience depression as a Vyvanse side effect, it is recommended to inform a medical doctor as soon as possible to get your mood back on track.
- Diarrhea: Diarrhea is reported as a common side effect of Vyvanse treatment. It is thought that the stimulatory effect of Vyvanse may expedite the movement of food through the digestive tract as well as increase the rate of bowel movements. If you experience diarrhea as a side effect early in treatment, realize that it may eventually subside as you continue using Vyvanse. That said, diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances – so make sure that you’re staying hydrated and replenishing lost electrolytes. Moreover, over-the-counter agents such as Imodium can sometimes be helpful for managing this side effect.
- Dizziness: When you initially start taking Vyvanse, you may feel slightly dizzy or experience bouts of dizziness. The dizziness may be related to changes in blood flow and/or neurotransmitter concentrations. That said, dizziness could also occur as a result of another Vyvanse side effect such as anxiety or appetite reduction. For example, if you aren’t consuming enough calories while using Vyvanse as a result of its appetite suppressing effect, this could lead to dizziness.
- Dry mouth: Another extremely common side effect of Vyvanse is dry mouth (xerostomia). Although dry mouth can feel very uncomfortable, it is usually a much easier side effect to manage than others. Some individuals report that dry mouth experienced during the early days or weeks of treatment eventually subsides with longer-term Vyvanse administration. If you experience dry mouth, or decreased saliva production within the mouth, be sure to receive regular dental check-ups as this may increase risk of bacterial accumulation and cavities.
- Headaches: Vyvanse is understood to cause headaches as a side effect. The headaches might be related to changes in blood flow within the brain. Specifically, Vyvanse induces a stimulatory effect which constricts blood vessels and restricts blood flow throughout the brain and body. This restricted blood flow causes muscle tension and “headaches.” If you experience headaches from Vyvanse, you may also want to review your water intake and nutrition – as inadequate hydration or food intake can also cause headaches. In the event that your headaches are extreme, it is recommended to ask your doctor what can be done.
- Heart rate increase: Similar to other stimulants, Vyvanse activates the sympathetic nervous system and speeds up the heart rate. If your heart rate increases while using Vyvanse, it is recommended to inform your doctor and rule out preexisting cardiovascular abnormalities. Should you have a history of cardiovascular conditions, it may be unsafe to use Vyvanse, especially at high doses. Nonetheless, some individuals will notice that their initially-rapid heart rate early in treatment eventually subsides with usage of Vyvanse over a long-term.
- Insomnia: A very common side effect reported by Vyvanse users is insomnia. Insomnia tends to occur as a result of sympathetic nervous system activation and elevated catecholamine levels. If you’re experiencing insomnia while taking Vyvanse, it’s possible that your dosage is too high and/or you’re using it too late in the day. Sometimes a simple dosage reduction can help reduce insomnia, and in other cases, taking Vyvanse earlier in the morning is a more effective strategy to decrease Vyvanse-induced insomnia.
- Jitteriness: The official documentation of Vyvanse side effects notes that “feeling jittery” is a common side effect. If you experience jitteriness and/or fidget more than usual while taking Vyvanse, you’re certainly not alone. The jitteriness is probably caused by elevated concentrations of catecholamines within the central nervous system, which in turn, can cause you to experience jitters (i.e. involuntary movements).
- Libido changes: Both men and women may notice changes in libido (i.e. sex drive) while taking Vyvanse. Due to its stimulating effect, most individuals who experience a change in sex drive will report an increase. However, others may actually become increasingly disinterested in sex while taking Vyvanse. If the libido changes are unwanted and/or difficult to manage, dosing adjustments may be necessary.
- Nasal congestion: While not a common side effect, some Vyvanse users may experience nasal congestion, nasal drip, or other sinus issues. It is unclear exactly why the nasal congestion occurs during Vyvanse treatment, however, this side effect should be reported to a doctor. Many have reported weird nasal reactions to Vyvanse such as excessive “sniffles” or a runny nose.
- Nausea: Nausea is another side effect of Vyvanse that is reported by many users. The nausea may interfere with one’s appetite and/or result in insufficient caloric intake throughout the day. If you feel excessively nauseated while using Vyvanse, you should discuss this side effect with your doctor – there may be some over-the-counter medications that will help you manage the nausea. Nausea tends to be more severe in new Vyvanse users and/or in the first few hours after taking Vyvanse. In extreme cases, nausea as a side effect could provoke vomiting.
- Palpitations: Palpitations refer to sensations of fluttering, rapid, and/or pounding heart beats. Persons experiencing palpitations for the first time often assume that they’re in the midst of a heart attack, which causes anxiety, and ultimately exacerbates the palpitations. Palpitations are primarily caused by excessive stimulation within the peripheral nervous system. If you experience palpitations, it’s a smart idea to inform your doctor and rule out serious cardiovascular conditions. That said, assuming you don’t have a cardiovascular condition, you may simply need to reduce your Vyvanse dose and/or take steps to reduce your stress level.
- Poor circulation: Some individuals will experience poor circulation throughout the body when taking Vyvanse. This side effect is caused by the constriction of blood vessels whereby blood flow to the extremities is reduced. For this reason, some people end up with coldness, numbness, tingling, and/or pains in their hands and/or feet. Additionally, fingers and/or toes may change colors such as by turning white, purplish, or blue. If you notice extreme changes in circulation while using Vyvanse, do not hesitate to inform your doctor.
- Restlessness: Though Vyvanse can sometimes help reduce restlessness and hyperactivity, others may become increasingly restless while under its influence. Restlessness could be related to the side effect of anxiety, but might also result from taking too high of a dose. If too much Vyvanse is ingested, dextroamphetamine may stimulate the central nervous system to an excessive degree – making it difficult to sit still; you may have an urge to constantly move around, which for most, isn’t very comfortable.
- Skin crawling or rash: Certain individuals have noted that they experience crawling sensations across their skin when taking Vyvanse. These crawling sensations may also be itchy and could result in excessive scratching. Others may notice increases in acne breakouts and/or rashes while using Vyvanse. Any changes in skin pigmentation and/or new rashes that develop while taking Vyvanse could signify a serious adverse reaction or allergy to the medication. For this reason, it is recommended to consult a doctor if you notice any skin changes.
- Sleep problems: In addition to insomnia or difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, Vyvanse users may report other sleep problems such as: nightmares, frequent nighttime awakenings, and/or lack of slow-wave sleep. If you’re concerned about your sleep architecture while using this medication, it is recommended to consult a medical sleep specialist and get a sleep study. Moreover, you may need to decrease your Vyvanse dosage and/or take the drug earlier in the day to reduce serious sleep problems.
- Stomach pain: It is common to experience stomach pain, particularly in the upper stomach area while taking Vyvanse. Many describe this side effect as “abdominal pain” or tightness within the stomach region. In some cases, the stomach pain may be related to other side effects such as digestive changes, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and/or muscle tension. In other cases, the stomach pain might be due to inadequate food or water intake while using Vyvanse.
- Sweating: Some people will notice that they cannot stop sweating while using Vyvanse. Sweating is probably caused by changes in concentrations of neurotransmitters and hormones (e.g. cortisol). If you’re sweating excessively (hyperhidrosis), you should mention this to your doctor and determine whether anything can be done about it. In some cases, the sweating will diminish and/or become less frequent as your body adjusts itself to the influence of Vyvanse.
- Vomiting: A serious, yet somewhat common side effect of Vyvanse is vomiting. Most people who experience this side effect will notice that they feel excessively nauseous prior to vomiting. Obviously, if you’re vomiting while taking Vyvanse, this could be a sign that you’re allergic to the drug and/or unable to tolerate it. That said, vomiting might simply be a result of ingesting too large of a dose. Regardless of why you’re vomiting on Vyvanse, it is necessary to report this side effect to your doctor as soon as possible.
- Weight loss: Though not approved specifically for weight loss, many know that it’s generally effective to use Vyvanse for weight loss. This is because Vyvanse helps control appetite, speeds up basal metabolic rate, and increases energy for physical exercise. While some weight loss may be healthy among persons who are overweight/obese, excessive weight loss in normal weight or underweight individuals can be dangerous. If you find yourself losing excessive body weight while using Vyvanse, you’ll want to consume more calories and inform your doctor.
Vyvanse Adverse Reactions (List of Possibilities)
Below is a list of adverse reactions that may occur as a result of Vyvanse treatment. If you experience any of these adverse reactions, seeking emergency medical attention is recommended.
- Delusions: Treatment with Vyvanse could trigger delusions or delusional thinking in certain individuals. Persons with a history of certain psychiatric disorders may be most at risk for experiencing delusions as a side effect. Moreover, ingesting abnormally high doses of Vyvanse increase the likelihood that delusions will occur due to high dopamine levels within the brain.
- Growth slowing: There’s some evidence to suggest that psychostimulants like Vyvanse could stunt growth or slow growth processes in children and/or adolescents. If growth seems to be slower than usual and/or stunted, Vyvanse may need to be discontinued.
- Grinding teeth: Some individuals will exhibit uncontrollable teeth grinding and/or clenching while taking Vyvanse. If the teeth grinding is excessive, this reaction might damage the enamel of teeth and cause other dental problems.
- Hallucinations: An adverse side effect that may be experienced by high-dose Vyvanse users is hallucinations, or sensory perceptions that aren’t based in reality. Hallucinations usually result from high levels of dopamine within certain regions of the brain. A person experiencing hallucinations might report hearing voices (of people that aren’t present) and/or seeing odd shapes.
- Heart attack: Individuals with preexisting cardiovascular conditions might experience a heart attack as a result of using Vyvanse. Though risk of a heart attack is low for most users, the stimulant effect of Vyvanse and corresponding reduction in blood flow to the heart could trigger a myocardial infarction.
- Mania: In some cases, Vyvanse can trigger mania among individuals with bipolar disorder. Mania is characterized by accelerated thought speed, euphoric mood, social confidence, rapid speech, and/or excessive talking.
- Psychosis: Certain individuals may be prone to drug-induced psychosis (or more specifically, stimulant psychosis) as an adverse reaction to Vyvanse. Psychotic symptoms occurring after ingestion of Vyvanse are probably related to elevated dopamine levels. Persons who are susceptible to psychosis should be closely monitored for psychotic symptoms while taking Vyvanse.
- Shortness of breath: Due to its stimulatory effect, Vyvanse may cause shortness of breath. That said, shortness of breath could also result from an allergic reaction to this medication.
- Stroke: Vyvanse is understood to affect blood flow throughout the brain and body. A combination of restricted blood flow and release of excitatory neurotransmitters could trigger a stroke in susceptible individuals.
- Tremor: Vyvanse may cause tremor or involuntary shakes in certain users. These shakes might make it difficult to sit still and/or stay focused. Moreover, the shakiness might be easily noticed by others.
Note: The above lists of side effects and adverse reactions attributable to Vyvanse may be incomplete. If you know of additional Vyvanse side effects or adverse reactions that were not reported in this article, be sure to note them in the comments section.
Variables that influence Vyvanse side effects
There are many variables that influence Vyvanse side effects. These variables include things like: dosage, duration of usage, co-administered substances, and the specific individual using Vyvanse. In most cases, differences in side effects among Vyvanse users can be explained by one or a combination of the variables listed below.
- Dosage (High vs. Low): Individuals who use high doses of Vyvanse will end up with greater concentrations of dextroamphetamine altering functions within the brain and central nervous system. For this reason, it is common for high-dose users to experience a greater number of side effects, as well as more severe side effects, than lower-dose users.
- Duration of usage: How long you’ve been regularly taking Vyvanse might influence the side effects that you experience. Someone who’s been taking Vyvanse for just a few days may experience a greater number of side effects and/or more severe side effects due to the fact that his/her body hasn’t fully adapted to the effect of the drug. By comparison, someone who’s been using Vyvanse for a long-term may find that most side effects have either ceased or diminished in intensity.
- Co-administered substances: Using other substances along with Vyvanse may increase or decrease your risk of side effects. For example, someone who drinks coffee after taking Vyvanse may be prone to more severe stimulatory-induced side effects (e.g. rapid heart rate) as a result of a synergism between caffeine and Vyvanse. On the other hand, taking a medication for anxiety might decrease various stimulatory side effects (e.g. rapid heart rate) associated with Vyvanse.
- Individual user: There are many individual factors that could affect the number of Vyvanse side effects that occur during treatment. Examples of these factors include: administration specifics (time of day taken, whether it was taken with food, etc.); genetics (metabolism, neurochemistry, etc.); preexisting medical conditions; sleep hygiene; and stress level.
Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine): Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?
Whenever using Vyvanse, it is recommended to regularly weigh the side effects with the therapeutic effects to determine whether continued usage of this medication is justified. Some individuals will experience significant benefit from the drug with very few side effects (or no major side effects). These individuals won’t have any problem continuing their treatment because they’re benefitting without any downside.
On the other hand, some individuals will experience debilitating side effects without any noticeable therapeutic benefit from Vyvanse in terms of treating ADHD, binge eating disorder, or another condition for which it was prescribed. If this is the case, it’s probably a good idea to discontinue Vyvanse with the help of your doctor and/or try another medication.
A majority of Vyvanse users will experience a combination of therapeutic benefits (e.g. treating symptoms of a medical condition) and unwanted side effects. It is ultimately up to you and your doctor to determine whether the therapeutic effects of Vyvanse outweigh the unwanted side effects. If you’re getting good relief from symptoms of your medical condition with Vyvanse, you may have no problem dealing with a few unwanted side effects.
Possible ways to reduce Vyvanse side effects
Listed below are some potential strategies to reduce the total number of and/or severities of Vyvanse side effects. Before using any of the strategies, it is necessary to consult a medical doctor to confirm that any actions you take are safe and likely to be of benefit.
- Dosage reduction: Because high doses of Vyvanse are more likely to trigger side effects, it may be beneficial to reduce your dose if side effects are severe. Taking the “minimal effective dose” should help minimize the likelihood of severe side effects.
- Modify administration: Sometimes side effects of Vyvanse occur as a result of administration timing and/or specifics. For example, you may want to try taking Vyvanse earlier in the day if you’re experiencing insomnia at night. Additionally, taking Vyvanse with certain foods (rather than on an empty stomach) may help reduce digestive-type side effects.
- Consider interactions: If you’re using other drugs and/or supplements with Vyvanse, it is recommended to ensure that there are no interactions occurring. Any interaction effects might be mistaken as being side effects of Vyvanse. Consult a doctor and pharmacist to rule out all possible interactions.
- Continue using Vyvanse: If you just started taking Vyvanse and are experiencing side effects, you may want to continue using the drug for awhile to see whether the side effects subside. In many cases, the body needs a little time to adjust to Vyvanse, and when it adjusts, the side effects diminish.
- Other substances: Some people may benefit from taking various over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and/or prescription medications to help reduce Vyvanse side effects. Your doctor should be able to help you determine the best substances to try for the management of your side effects.
Have you experienced Vyvanse side effects?
If you’ve taken Vyvanse and experienced any side effects or adverse reactions, share your experience in the comments section below. Provide some details about your experience such as: your Vyvanse dosage and how long you’ve used it. Also note whether you’re taking other substances (e.g. medications and/or supplements) along with Vyvanse.
If you are using other substances along with Vyvanse, how can you be certain that what you’re experiencing isn’t an interaction effect (between the other substance(s) and Vyvanse) and/or that your side effects aren’t more attributable to the other substance(s)? Which side effects of Vyvanse have you found most difficult to manage? Have you figured out any ways to reduce the severity of your Vyvanse side effects?