Side Effects of ADHD Stimulant Medication May Range from Delusion to Severe Psychosis


Side Effects of ADHD Stimulant Medication May Range from Delusion to Severe Psychosis

Prescribed stimulants for ADHD are now being scrutinized. New research into children’s medication reveals that some of these could trigger a form of psychosis among some kids.

ReadWhat is Psychosis?

The risk for kids is even higher if parents are not stable mentally. This adverse effect is possible even with popular prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Concerta— basically, with any methylphenidate-based stimulant. The whole study on stimulants and their connections to psychosis was funded by four institutes:

  • The Canada Research Chairs Program,
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research,
  • The Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, and
  • The Dalhousie University (Department of Psychiatry).

The paper on such effects of stimulants prescribed for children with attention-deficit & hyperactivity disorder was published in Pediatrics. It makes comparisons between subjects (children and young adults) for developmental psychopathology studies. Severe mental illness was also detected in the parents of these subjects.

ReadHow safe are ADHD stimulant medications for your child?

Stimulant medications affected 62% percent of the subjects, causing psychotic symptoms, while normally, without any medication, the number stayed at 27%. It proves that stimulants used to treat ADHD symptoms can bring psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations to children and young adults with mentally unstable parents.

As a warning, the researchers reinforce the usefulness of monitoring for psychotic symptoms while children and adolescents are on such a stimulant. Family history should be considered prior to any prescription of stimulants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics forum states that the research also indicates the long-term effects of stimulants on individuals with psychotic disorders. The earlier someone starts taking it, the greater the risk for a significantly earlier onset of psychosis. It is also suspected that dopamine highs over longer spans of time are how this disturbing finding works.

The Clinical Psychiatry News calls the study a ‘comprehensive testing battery.’ It has been built on earlier works that show genetic overlapping between risks for stimulant-induced psychosis and schizophrenia.

From Dalhousie University, the report stated that hallucinations were found to be the most common of such psychotic symptoms among kids on stimulants.

Dr. Andrew Adesman of Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Chief of Developmental and behavioral pediatrics also agreed that stimulant treatments often bring stimulant-related psychotic symptoms. It’s more common, extensive, and complex among children of parents with active mood disorders. So, it’s a complex consideration that should not be taken lightly.

So, has your primary care physician recommended stimulant medication to manage the ADHD symptoms of your child? Should you seek a second opinion? Given the findings of these studies, the answer is of course!

ReadWhat Physicians should know about Primary caregiving for Paediatric ADHD

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