ADHD Meds & Psychosis: Saw recent... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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ADHD Meds & Psychosis

Pennywink profile image

Saw recent headlines of amphetamines (Adderall, etc) showing a relationship with increased psychosis in patients newly taking it, & thought it might be good for discussion.

I know many are fearful to try medication for ADHD - please, I don’t present this as evidence or added fear to avoid treatment.

Keep in mind that:

1. The rate is still very small (smaller than all the risks of untreated ADHD.)

2. It only seems to be patients newly on the meds - so if your child has been taking it awhile with no problems, you’re probably in the clear.

3. The psychosis seems to wear off after ending the medication.

4. This report doesn’t compare with a baseline control group, that I can tell. What is the rate of psychosis that develops in kids with untreated ADHD &/or neurotypical children?

Interestingly enough, I have seen a few other studies also indicating that methylphenidates (Ritalin, Concerta, etc) are probably a better choice to start medication trials for kids & teens, though reports indicates that the amphetamines are more likely to be prescribed.

13 Replies

Thanks for starting this discussion. I agree that people who are "on the fence" about giving medication will be even more concerned. I am sorry I don't have more time to really go over the study, but the other thing I thought of (maybe this was adressed in the summary or weakness of the study) is how many of these teens had an additional disorder that had psychosis in addition to ADHD or how many had just ADHD.

On a personal note, we could not have maintained any normal life without medication so the only thing we could do is trust any contuine on the track with medication.

I hope to really dive into te he research study soon.

Thanks again

Yes - when someone first sent me the article, I was like “Oh no, here we go again.” But as I saw it pop up on multiple legitimate news sites, I thought it might be better to offer it here for a leveled discussion and offer a balance to people who may just see the headline and be fearful.

You are downplaying the serious effects of these meds. My teenage son was one of the kids who experience psychosis while on Vyvanse and I’m telling you, it’s scary. These drugs may work for some children but they are VERY dangerous for others. And don’t forget ritalin and cocaine are both stimulants with very similar side effects. Do your research, parents. Because ADHD meds are not the answer for some of our children. I don’t know what is but I can tell you from experience, it’s not prescribed meds the pharmaceutical companies and our physicians are pushing us to give our kids.

Mmagusin profile image
Mmagusin in reply to corster

How is your son doing without medication? What symptoms prompted you to seek medication in the first place?

corster profile image
corster in reply to Mmagusin

He’s struggling at school without meds but that’s better than having psychosis. And the scary part is he was on the meds for three years before the psychosis so the article information saying it’s only happening to kids who have recently tried Vyvanse is not completely true. He needed meds in the first place for lack of focus and hyperactivity.

Thanks for starting the discussion. My 16 y o son started having extremely aggressive and odd behavior after being in Focalin XR for a period of time. It was quite scary so he stopped taking it and his behavior returned to normal. He had been on concerta (other formulation) prior to this without those side effects but as he grew, that medicine became less effective.

Adderall did not cause this issue in him but the appetite suppressant properties caused a lot of weight loss and he stopped taking it on his own for that reason. We are now looking into other options. His grades have suffered while being off of the medicine.

Thanks for sharing. Like all medications, what works for one person may not work for another. I don’t think we can say that just because a person had psychosis on ADHD medication doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t try it. My fear is this article will discourage parents from trying medication to help their child and let me just say without medication my child would not survive! Nor would my husband and I! It has been a lifesaver! Parents need to do what’s best for their child but if the child is struggling without meds, they owe it to their child to try to find a medicine that will work. Otherwise their child will continue to struggle. Finding the right ADHD medicine is a journey for most because it’s so complex. We tried over 7 different medications before we found the right one. So my advice to parents is, keep trying and if one med doesn’t work, move on and try another. Don’t waste time on meds that don’t work and find a child psychiatrist to help you find the right meds. Don’t go through your pediatrician. Keep track of the meds you tests and list the pros/cons of each one. My son had some adverse effects as we were trying new meds but I didn’t give up because I saw how much he was struggling, I was determined to find a med that could help him, There are so many different meds out there that the odds are in your favor one will work. Also I want to mention that some kids need a combination of meds to help them. ADHD often comes with other disorders such as depression, anxiety, and ODD.

corster profile image
corster in reply to Ldydy24

I’m glad the meds worked for you. Our son has been on 5 different ADHD meds all prescribed by a psychitriast. Our family social worker told us there is a small percentage of kids who have the worst side effects on every ADHD meds (including suicidal thoughts and psychosis which our son has had) and these meds just don’t work for these kids. Families need to be aware that these meds don’t “fix” all kids.

Ldydy24 profile image
Ldydy24 in reply to corster

Sorry to hear the meds haven’t worked for your son. My son was 5 when he was diagnosed and it took me 3 years before we found the right meds. It also took me 2 doctors before I found the right one, Like I said we tried 7 different meds so it’s not uncommon. Focalin is the only med that worked to control my sons impulses and help him Focus. There are also some non-stimulants on the market that some parents have had success with. I’m not sure if your dr has suggested trying them.

Thank-you for sharing. I agree that medications are not right for all kids. I am curious about what interventions you used along with medications so that when they did not work you were able to help him? We like others could not survive or function without it.

One of my friends has a son that she is homeschooling. He is very impulsive and can not control it. She strongly feels kids should learn to control themselves and she thinks that the medication don't make them do this.


The social worker has been great at giving us strategies to deal with ODD/ADHD kids. Also, my son takes co-op at school so he really only needs to focus for English and he seems to be getting by at this point without the meds. I agree self-regulation is huge and kids do need to learn these skills.

My grandsons have been on meds for years without a major problem. Younger one had a sleep study that showed he had been having mini seizures. The neurologist put him on Lamictal for the seizures. Not only did he have severe tics on it but had a psychotic break.

He is back to normal on different meds but it was scary.

Hidden profile image

I'm late to this discussion, but my daughter was also diagnosed with bipolar and she is on two medications, one for ADHD and one for the bipolar. I agree and feel terrible for those who can't find an ADHD medication that can work for their child. I'm grateful that it has worked great for my daughter. I would just really encourage any parent to get a FULL evaluation for their child to rule out any other mental health issues before assuming that it's the ADHD medication that is causing the psychosis. Mental illness in kids is GROSSLY undiagnosed and can lead to all kinds of other problems later. I am not suggesting that anyone's child has other mental health problems, just suggesting that a full evaluation by a qualified pediatric psychologist or neurologist is really beneficial to get the full picture!

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