HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Dexamfetamine

Return to Dexamfetamine overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
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Some young people cannot take dexamfetamine

There are some young people who cannot take dexamfetamine because of other conditions they have, or a family history of:

  • Heart or blood circulation problems
  • ‘Tics’ (movements you cannot control), or Tourette’s syndrome
  • Young people who have been dependent in the past on drugs or alcohol
  • Thyroid problems
  • Unusual feelings of excitement that are not linked to your ADHD
  • Increased pressure in your eye (glaucoma)
  • A blood problem called porphyria
  • An allergy to dexamfetamine, other similar medicines like methylphenidate, or any of the other ingredients in the medicines

Some side-effects are very serious and you need to see a doctor straight away

You need to see a doctor straight away if you get any of the following side-effects. Go to your GP or a hospital, and take your medicines with you: 

  • High body temperature
  • Twitching
  • Sudden wheeziness and tightness in your chest
  • Swelling of your eyelids, face, lips or throat
  • Skin lumps or ‘hives’
  • A red spotty skin rash that is itchy
  • Collapsing

If you have any of the side effects above, see a doctor straight away.

Some side-effects that do appear should get better after a few days. If they do not, you should go back to your doctor. If you get any side effects not listed here please look at the patient leaflet in the medicine pack

There are many possible side-effects when you start taking dexamfetamine. Most will get better after a few days, but if they do not and they are affecting your life, you should go back to the doctor. 

Very common (could affect more than 1 in 10 people) or Common (could affect up to 1 in 10 people) 

    • Feeling unusually happy
    • Feeling restless or uneasy, or finding it difficult to concentrate
    • Feeling irritable or aggressive
    • Feeling anxious, nervous, confused or having a low mood (depressed)
    • Cramps or pain in your gut
    • Feeling sick
    • Weight loss
    • Slower growth than other people your age
    • Dry mouth and changes in how you taste things
    • Disturbed sleep
    • Headache
    • Heart and blood pressure changes, including fast heart rate
    • Rashes or itching skin
    • Muscle pain
  • There are other side-effects that you can get when taking this medicine – we have only included more common ones here.
  • Please look at the leaflet inside your medicine box, or ask a doctor or pharmacist, if you want to know if you are getting a side-effect from your medicine. 

If you do get a side-effect, please think about reporting it via the Yellow Card Scheme.

Do not take dexamfetamine if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant (MAOI) like moclobemide, phenelzine, isocarboxazid or tranylcypromine in the last 14 days. Dexamfetamine does not mix well with some other medicines and drugs.

Do not take dexamfetamine if you are taking a medicine called a ‘monoamine oxidase inhibitor’ (MAOI) used for depression, or if you have taken an MAOI in the last 14 days. Examples of MAOIs are moclobemide, phenelzine, isocarboxazid or tranylcypromine Taking an MAOI with dexamfetamine may cause a sudden dangerous increase in your blood pressure.

If you are taking other medicines, dexamfetamine may affect how well they work or may cause side effects. If you are taking any other medicines, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking dexamfetamine.

Stopping the medication causes the balance of chemicals in the brain to alter

  • Once you start taking dexamfetamine, the brain adjusts to having a new level of noradrenaline and dopamine around.
  • If you stop taking dexamfetamine all at once, the balance starts to change again.
  • You could get some unwanted symptoms from the change.

Stopping this medicine quickly, or reducing the dose too much at once, may cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms usually come on in a few days. You can stop taking it safely with your doctor’s help.

  • You may feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you stop dexamfetamine suddenly.
  • It is better to agree stopping with a doctor who will reduce you gradually.
  • Your ADHD symptoms could return, or the sudden drop in noradrenaline and dopamine in your brain could bring on symptoms of low mood (depression) and extreme tiredness.
  • Go and speak to your doctor if you have missed a few doses or have decided to stop taking your medication.
  • Withdrawal symptoms should stop after a few days. If they do not, or they are stopping you getting on with your life, you might need the help of a doctor.
  • When you agree with your doctor to stop the medicine, you will carry on with a lower dose for a few days. This will stop you getting withdrawal symptoms.

Reference sources

Search www.medicines.org.uk to find patient information leaflets and prescribing information on dexamfetamine. Tablets and liquid are listed separately and include manufacturer’s name. If your medicine is not listed here and is made as a special order then ask the pharmacist for a full list of all ingredients. The SmPC lists all the inactive ingredients in the product so you can check against any allergies. If you are still unsure about this then speak to your pharmacist.

  • British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for children. Download the BNF/BNFC app (blue background) on to your mobile device. No longer available for public access via the web
  • Taylor D, Barnes T, Young A. Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry, 13th edition. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, May 2018. ISBN: 978-1-119-44260-8
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Medicines Ethics and Practice (42nd edition). London: RPS, 2018. Standards for pharmacists to work to. It is not a free publication
  • World Anti Doping Agency WADA Prohibited List https://www.wada-ama.org/en/resources/science-medicine/prohibited-list-documents
  • Choiceandmedication; an independent source of information on many mental health conditions and their medicines with easy to read fact sheets www.choiceandmedication.org Personal subscriptions to download the app available for £1 per month (with proportionate discounts for longer periods) but your local mental health Trust may subscribe and provide information sheets for free.
  • Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS). Information sheets on drugs in pregnancy http://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/ 
  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Information on drugs in breastfeeding https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm
  • NICE Guidance NG 87. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management March 2018 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/NG87