Vyvanse is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Treatment for ADHD also generally involves behavioral therapies.

In January of 2015, Vyvanse became the first medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of binge-eating disorder in adults.

In this article, we’ll cover the effect that Vyvanse has on different systems of the body, and how it’s used to treat binge-eating disorder and ADHD.

Vyvanse is the brand name for lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, a prodrug. It isn’t active in the body until it’s absorbed in the GI tract and converted to the active component dextroamphetamine, which belongs to the class of drugs known as amphetamines.

This drug is a federally controlled substance, which means it has the potential for abuse or dependence.

Vyvanse hasn’t been tested in children under age 6 who have ADHD, or in children under age 18 with binge-eating disorder. It’s not approved for use as a weight loss drug or to treat obesity.

Vyvanse can begin working in the body as soon as the first dose. Like any medication, it may take a few weeks to adjust to side effects, and your doctor may need to adjust the dose over a period of time to figure out the correct dose.

Before using Vyvanse, tell your doctor if you have any pre-existing health conditions or if you take any other medications. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience side effects. It’s illegal and dangerous to share your prescription with someone else.

Vyvanse works by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain and increasing norepinephrine and dopamine levels. Norepinephrine is a stimulant, and dopamine is a naturally occurring substance that stimulates feelings of pleasure and reward.

If you have ADHD, you may notice an improvement in your attention span. It can also help control hyperactivity and impulsiveness and improve concentration. It’s also used off label for treatment resistant depression and narcolepsy. It may improve depression, fatigue, sleepiness and wakefulness.

When used to treat binge-eating disorder, Vyvanse may help you binge less frequently.

Common side effects in the central nervous system include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • mild anxiety
  • feeling jittery or irritable

Rare side effects include:

Tell your doctor if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Vyvanse can be habit-forming, especially if you take it for a long time, and it has a potential for abuse. You should not use this medication without a doctor’s supervision.

If you become dependent on amphetamines, stopping suddenly can cause you to go through withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • shakiness
  • inability to sleep
  • excessive sweating

Your doctor can help you lower the dose a little at a time so you can safely stop taking the drug.

Some children may experience a slightly slower rate of growth while taking this medication. It’s not usually cause for concern, but your doctor will probably monitor your child’s development as a precaution.

You shouldn’t take this medication if you’re taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, if you have heart disease, or if you’ve had a bad reaction to another stimulant drug.

One of the more common cardiovascular system side effects is a slightly faster heart rate. You may also have a substantial elevation in heart rate or blood pressure, but this is less common. It can also cause cardiac arrhythmias.

Vyvanse can also cause problems with circulation. You may have circulation problems if your fingers and toes feel cold or numb, or if your skin turns blue or red. If that happens, tell your doctor.

Rarely, Vyvanse can cause shortness of breath.

Vyvanse can affect your digestive system. Some of the more common digestive system problems include:

  • dry mouth
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Some people have a noticeable drop in appetite when taking this medication. This can lead to some weight loss, but Vyvanse isn’t a good weight loss treatment. It may lead to anorexia in some cases.

It’s important to maintain a balanced diet and talk with your doctor if weight loss persists.

Amphetamines can pass through breast milk, so be sure to tell your doctor if you’re breastfeeding. Also, frequent or prolonged erections have been reported. If you have a prolonged erection, you should seek medical help.