Antihypertensives for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Antihypertensives for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Generic NameBrand Name

This medicine is usually used to reduce high blood pressure, but it is often combined with stimulants for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

How It Works

It is not known exactly how this medicine works when used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It appears to affect the body's production of norepinephrine, a brain chemical that helps control moods.

Why It Is Used

This medicine is useful in treating children who have ADHD, especially those who have repetitive muscle movements (tics) or significant problems controlling their impulses and aggression.

A combination of clonidine and methylphenidate (a stimulant, such as Concerta or Ritalin) has helped some children with difficult behavioural problems.

How Well It Works

Research has shown that when clonidine is used with a stimulant medicine, it reduces aggressive and disruptive behaviour.1

Clonidine seems to improve symptoms in some people who have ADHD, especially those with symptoms of frustration, extreme hyperactivity, and aggressiveness. It is also used for children with ADHD and tic disorders.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of clonidine is drowsiness and dizziness. But these symptoms seem to go away after a few weeks of treatment. No serious side effects have been associated with this medicine, and changes in blood pressure are minimal.

Very rare side effects of clonidine include depression and irregular heartbeat.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Clonidine is not given to people who have heart or blood vessel diseases.

Tips for taking clonidine

  • Don't stop taking the medicine without talking with your doctor, because your blood pressure might rise too quickly.
  • Take the medicine daily, as prescribed.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Hazell LH, Stuart JE (2003). A randomized controlled trial of clonidine added to psychostimulant medication for hyperactive and aggressive children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(8): 886–894.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised June 10, 2010

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