Dear reader of, please excuse the disruption. needs about $63500 in 2024. In 2023 we received donations of about $ 32200. Unfortunately, 99.8% of our readers do not donate. If everyone who reads this request makes a small contribution, our fundraising campaign for 2024 would be over after a few days. This donation request is displayed 23,000 times a week, but only 75 people donate. If you find useful, please take a minute and support with your donation. Thank you!

Since 01.06.2021 is supported by the non-profit ADxS e.V..

$26199 of $63500 - as of 2024-06-30
Header Image
Selegiline for ADHD


Selegiline for ADHD

Selegiline: L-deprenyl; C13H17N

Brand names: Movergan, Antiparkin, Xilopar and as a generic drug

1. Mechanisms of action of Selegiline

Selegiline is an MAO inhibitor that is primarily used for Parkinson’s disease. In low doses, it is a selective MAO-B inhibitor.
Selegiline irreversibly inhibits MAO-B, which reduces the breakdown of dopamine. Selegiline itself is metabolized to amphetamines or methamphetamines.
At higher doses (over 20 mg/day), selegiline also inhibits MAO-A, which increases serotonin and noradrenaline levels in the brain.

Dopamine is degraded by both isoenzymes of MAO, MAO-A and MAO-B. In humans, degradation by MAO-A predominates (within the degradation by MAO) in vivo, as hardly any dopamine reaches astrocytes, where it could be degraded by MAO-B.

More on this under Dopamine degradation by monoamine oxidase (MAO-A, MAO-B) in the article Dopamine degradation in the chapter Neurological aspects

Selegiline also acts as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor.

2. Selegiline for ADHD

A study comparing 20 mg and 60 mg selegiline against placebo found no improvement in ADHD symptoms in the subjects’ self-report.1 Another study of 24 children with ADHD and comorbid Tourette’s found only slight improvements in ADHD symptoms with a high dropout rate among participants2

An older study found a good improvement in ADHD symptoms with selegiline in children with ADHD and comorbid tic disorder over a test period of more than 6 months. Only 2 of the 29 subjects reported an exacerbation of tics. The side effects were minor.3
Three smaller studies found no differences in effect between selegiline and methylphenidate in the parent report of 15 families,4 in the parent and teacher report of 28 children,5 and in the parent and teacher report of 40 children.6
In another small placebo-controlled study, selegiline only improved inattention, but not hyperactivity/impulsivity.7 In animal studies, a significant reduction in impulsivity was found in SHR (animal model for ADHD-C) at 0.25 mg/kg8

Selegiline sometimes appears to be used off-label for ADHD.910

3. Side effects of Selegiline

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Movement disorders
  • Psychoses
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • moderate increase in liver enzymes

The side effects of

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Headache

were somewhat rarer with selegiline than with methylphenidate, with an otherwise comparable number of side effects.5

4. Contraindications of Selegiline

  • Extrapyramidal syndromes that are not due to dopamine deficiency
  • Impaired kidney or liver function
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Selegiline must not be combined with:

  • SSRI
  • SNRI
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • Sympathomimetics
  • Pethidine
  • Opioids
  • Serotonin agonists
  • Bupropion

A study on the comedication of stimulants and MAO inhibitors in depression found no problems.11 Another study reported successful comedication of selegiline and lisdexamfetamine (Elvanse) in ADHD and comorbid depression12
Thus, a combination medication of selegiline with stimulants can also be considered for ADHD.

  1. Ernst, Liebenauer, Jons, Tebeka, Cohen, Zametkin (1996): Selegiline in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: clinical efficacy and safety. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1996;32(3):327-34. PMID: 8961775.

  2. Feigin, Kurlan, McDermott, Beach, Dimitsopulos, Brower, Chapieski, Trinidad, Como, Jankovic (1996): A controlled trial of deprenyl in children with Tourette’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neurology. 1996 Apr;46(4):965-8. doi: 10.1212/wnl.46.4.965. PMID: 8780073.

  3. Jankovic J. Deprenyl in attention deficit associated with Tourette’s syndrome. Arch Neurol. 1993 Mar;50(3):286-8. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1993.00540030052014. PMID: 8442708. n = 29

  4. Niederhofer (2003): Selegiline and methylphenidate in treatment of ADHD. Psychiatr Danub. 2003 Jun;15(1-2):3-6. PMID: 19112366. n = 15

  5. Akhondzadeh, Tavakolian, Davari-Ashtiani, Arabgol, Amini (2003): Selegiline in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children: a double blind and randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;27(5):841-5. doi: 10.1016/S0278-5846(03)00117-9. PMID: 12921918. n = 28

  6. Mohammadi MR, Ghanizadeh A, Alaghband-Rad J, Tehranidoost M, Mesgarpour B, Soori H. Selegiline in comparison with methylphenidate in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder children and adolescents in a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2004 Fall;14(3):418-25. doi: 10.1089/cap.2004.14.418. PMID: 15650498. n = 40

  7. Rubinstein, Malone, Roberts, Logan (2006): Placebo-controlled study examining effects of selegiline in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2006 Aug;16(4):404-15. doi: 10.1089/cap.2006.16.404. PMID: 16958566. n = 11

  8. Boix, Qiao, Kolpus, Sagvolden (1998): Chronic L-deprenyl treatment alters brain monoamine levels and reduces impulsiveness in an animal model of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Behav Brain Res. 1998 Jul;94(1):153-62. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(97)00176-9. PMID: 9708846.

  9. Moore JJ, Saadabadi A (2023): Selegiline. 2023 Aug 17. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30252350.

  10. Moore, Saadabadi (2018): Selegiline. SourceStatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018-2018 Aug 30.

  11. Feinberg (2004): Combining stimulants with monoamine oxidase inhibitors: a review of uses and one possible additional indication. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004 Nov;65(11):1520-4. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v65n1113. PMID: 15554766.

  12. Israel (2015): Combining Stimulants and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: A Reexamination of the Literature and a Report of a New Treatment Combination. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2015 Dec 10;17(6):10.4088/PCC.15br01836. doi: 10.4088/PCC.15br01836. PMID: 27057401; PMCID: PMC4805402., REVIEW