Adverse Psychiatric Reactions Information Link
Promoting awareness of medicines that can harm mental health

ADHD drugs



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit disorder (ADD)

Concern Over ADHD Diagnosis and Use of Drugs: BBC News

Edinburgh University's Dr Gwynedd Lloyd has said decisions to hand out drugs are often made so that parents don't feel guilty about their unruly children and that there is widespread abuse of drugs such as Ritalin 

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about drugs prescribed for ADHD and ADD that may cause cardiac adverse effects - Aderall, Strattera and Ritalin among others.

"What Next for Craig?" Shelley Jofre investigated research that suggested giving children drugs for the treatment of ADHD shows no long-term benefit. However due to a complaint received by the BBC the programme is no longer available to access. The link to viewers opinions is available here:

Pre-existing Structural Cardiac Abnormalities
Sudden death has been reported in association with the use of stimulants of the central nervous system at usual doses in children with structural cardiac abnormalities. Parents should investigate the cardio vascular risks, together with the psychological and sexual problems that may be due to adverse effects.

Ritalin should not be used in children under 6 years of age, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established.

Clinical experience suggests that Ritalin may exacerbate symptoms of behavioural disturbance and thought disorder in psychotic children.

Chronic abuse of Ritalin can lead to marked tolerance and psychological dependence with varying degrees of abnormal behaviour. Frank psychotic episodes may occur, especially with parenteral abuse.

Treatment with Ritalin is not indicated in all cases of Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity disorders, and should be considered only after detailed history-taking and evaluation. The decision to prescribe Ritalin should depend on an assessment of the severity of symptoms and their appropriateness to the child's age and not simply on the presence of one or more abnormal behavioural characteristics. Where these symptoms are associated with acute stress reactions, treatment with Ritalin is usually not indicated.

Moderately reduced weight gain and slight growth retardation have been reported with the long-term use of stimulants in children, although a causal relationship has not been confirmed. Careful monitoring of growth is recommended during extended treatment with Ritalin.

APRIL says: 
Deaths have occurred and APRIL has been aware of actual cases reported and have personal knowledge of children losing drive and motivation, developing Tourettes Syndrome, being prescribed sleeping pills and other psychoactive drugs to deal with side effects and reported sexual dysfunction believed to be as a result of years of taking Ritalin.

Ritalin is in fact methyphenidate hydrochloride and the manufacturer Novartis states this enhances the activity of certain under active parts of the brain. Furthermore the side effects of Ritalin on the manufacturers data sheet include warnings that a child taking Ritalin will need blood tests, growth monitoring and blood pressure checks

Parents with difficult children have our sympathy and I know from a family member's reaction that when a child is diagnosed it may be a relief to find that the reason for the child's problems may not be the parents' fault.

However it must be taken into account that sometimes more actual help in dealing with life's problems such a behavioural therapy from a child psychologist, simply changing the child's diet to exclude additives and too much sugar known to exacerbate excitement and hyperactivity, may be effective. The main thing is that the parents do not want to be accused of drug abusing their children as some young people do when they discover the harm the drugs have caused.

Careful supervision is required during drug withdrawal, since this may unmask depression as well as chronic over-activity. Some patients may require long-term follow-up. 

A book by psychologist Craig Newnes may help research

Making and Breaking Childrens Lives

"Making and Breaking Children's Lives" examines how children are hurt in modern society. We hear about the effects of early abandonment, abuse and lack of attachment, but find that children's experiences are sanitised through medical diagnoses and frequently the 'help' offered is prescription drugs. In this challenging book a plurality of voices returns to one consistent theme - the importance of psychosocial context, which become increasingly dismissed as being irrelevant in the rush to label and prescribe. However, there is hope - the final section describes inspiring examples of how services and communities can be developed to give children and their families a chance to prosper - evidence that there is nothing inevitable about the breaking of children's lives.

Could diet be a factor?

Parents have long claimed that food additives can aggravate hyperactive behaviour and research by the Food Standards Agency and Southampton University has shown that certain mixtures of artificial food colours, alongside sodium benzoate - a preservative used in ice cream and confectionary - are linked to increases in hyperactivity.

Be aware of interactions with other medicines..

Reporting Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs)
If you have suffered psychiatric adverse reactions please report them. There may be side effects not mentioned on the data sheets. You can request a list of drugs used pre surgery and during surgery. You should be given patient information for all drugs prescribed as you are discharged from hospital.

Please report Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) to:

UK Yellow Card Reporting for Patient and Health Professional reports of Adverse Drug Reactions

USA and worldwide to the Food and Drug Administration for Patients and Healthcare Professionals

Universal free, independent drug safety website - Rxisk

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