Bupropion versus methylphenidate in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1995 May;34(5):649-57. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199505000-00017.


Objective: In the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the efficacy of the tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressants has been compared with that of both placebo and the stimulants (methylphenidate and/or dextroamphetamine). However, the effectiveness of bupropion has been contrasted only with placebo. The primary aim of this study was to contrast the efficacy of bupropion with that of methylphenidate in the treatment of ADHD.

Method: A double-blind, crossover design was used in this study. After a 14-day medication washout period, 15 ADHD subjects (7 to 17 years old) were randomized to either methylphenidate or bupropion for 6 weeks, washed out for an additional 2 weeks, and then "crossed over" to the other drug. Methylphenidate was titrated to the maximum effective dose of 0.4 to 1.3 mg/kg per day (mean 0.7 mg/kg per day) and bupropion was titrated to an effective dose ranging from 1.4 to 5.7 mg/kg per day (mean 3.3 mg/kg per day).

Results: Both methylphenidate and bupropion produced significantly greater (p < .001) and equivalent improvement on the Iowa-Conners Teacher's Rating Scale according to both the subjects' parents and teachers. The same pattern of improvement was also noted for improvement on the Clinical Global Impression Scale, Kagan's Matching Familiar Figures Test, Continuous Performance Test, Children's Depression Inventory, Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, and Rey Auditory-Verbal Learning Test.

Conclusions: In this double-blind, crossover trial, bupropion and methylphenidate were both effective and did not differ in their overall efficacy as treatments for ADHD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Bupropion / administration & dosage
  • Bupropion / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Methylphenidate / administration & dosage
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Placebos
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Placebos
  • Bupropion
  • Methylphenidate