ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has become an increasingly common diagnosis for children and teens in recent years. It is typical for those who suffer from this condition to be prescribed medication to help deal with trouble focusing on tasks or paying attention during school. While these types of drugs are aimed to help someone with this condition function with greater ability, new studies pose serious concerns about such medication. Researchers from McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked into what exactly the potential long term effects of these drugs are, according to AJC News.
If you are diagnosed with ADHD you will most likely be prescribed medication from one of two drug classes, amphetamines or methylphenidates. Well known brand names of amphetamines are Adderall and Vyvanse. Meanwhile, methylphenidates are known by their brand names Ritalin or Concerta. They are all aimed to allow for better focus and concentration. However, the recent research done upon these prescription medications shows a link to psychosis.
Psychosis is a condition in which a person begins to lose touch with reality and acts irrationally. While the likelihood of developing psychosis as a result of taking these types of medications is relatively low, the fact that there is a chance is worrisome. Dr. Moran, one of the lead researchers in the study, explained the findings.
“The findings are concerning because the use of amphetamines in adolescents and young adults has more than tripled in recent years. More and more patients are being treated with these medications. There is not a lot of research comparing the safety profiles of amphetamines and methylphenidate, despite increasing use of these medications.”
The study went on to say that more than 220,000 ADHD patients have begun taking prescription medication for the condition between the years of 2004 and 2015. These patients were between the ages of 13 and 25-years-old. In addition, for every 486 ADHD patients that were prescribed an amphetamine for the condition, one developed psychosis. As for methylphenidate, one of every 1,046 patients developed psychosis. These patients then required treatment for the side effects with more drugs, specifically antipsychotic medication.
While the concerns brought about by this study are certainly valid, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone already taking these medications needs to suddenly go off them. Some people may have already been taking an amphetamine or methylphenidate for decades to cope with their ADHD. If this is the case, the chances of developing psychosis later in life are slim.
Dr. Moran emphasized that “people who have been on a drug like Adderall for a long time, who are taking the drug as prescribed and are tolerating it well, are not likely to experience this problem (psychosis).”