When treating ADHD in yourself or your child, the current standard of treatment is with medication, accommodations and support. Research and complete understanding of the ADHD drug side effects is paramount. Find out what you need to know about ADHD medication side effects.
Medication options. The modern-day treatment drug options include two categories of drugs. The stimulant drugs (psychostimulants) and the non-stimulant drug, atomoxetine, are the most typical prescriptions for ADHD.
Stimulant medications. Stimulants are suspected to balance and enhance neurotransmitters (or brain chemicals), reports the Mayo Clinic. It seems counterintuitive to give a hyperactive child a stimulant; however, the stimulation of the less active brain areas is what seems to provoke these sometimes dramatic results in attention deficit, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Stimulants that may be prescribed include:
- Dextroamphetamine — The brand-name drugs that contain dextroamphetamine are Dexedrine and Dextrostat.
- Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine — Adderall is the brand-name version of dextroamphetamine-amphetamine.
- Methylphenidate — These medications are called Ritalin, Concerta and Daytrana.
Side effects of ADHD stimulant drugs. Every medication has side effects. The good they do must outweigh any negatives. Informing your decision will help you make a tough choice. Side effects that are the most typically observed in children taking any of the stimulant drugs are:
- Suppressed appetite — You may notice your child not eating or feeling hungry after the medication is taken. The good news is, later in the day when the medication has worn off, the appetite will return. You may wish to feed your child before taking that morning dose.
- Weight loss — This is a common side effect that can worry parents. The weight loss is not usually permanent.
- Cannot fall asleep — The usual tired feelings that occur right before bed are impeded when taking stimulants.
- Moody irritability — Some children experience this irritability as the effects of the medication is beginning to wear off.
- Delayed growth — The rate of growth may be delayed slightly, but not permanently.
- Twitches — Twitches may appear if dosage is too high.
- Heart trouble — The Mayo Clinic also reports that it is suspected, in very rare cases, unknown underlying heart problems, such as heart disease, can be exacerbated. Your doctor will check your child for any heart issues before giving you a prescription for any stimulant.
Non-stimulant side effects. The non-stimulant medications used to treat ADHD also have side effects. These medications are typically given when stimulants are contraindicated or do not work. The Mayo Clinic states Amoxetine may cause:
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Liver problems (rarely)
- Risk of depression or suicidal thinking (rarely)
Additional medications for treating ADHD. There are other categories of medications that your doctor may suggest for the treatment of ADHD. Antidepressants are used in children that aren’t responding to the stimulants and non-stimulants. They are also helpful in children who have a mood disorder as well as ADHD. The high blood pressure medications, Clonidine (or Catapres) and duanfacine (or Intuniv and Tenex), may be used if other medications don’t work or aren’t well tolerated.