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What are the side effects of stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD?


The most commonly reported side effects of these stimulant drugs used to treat people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are poor appetite, weight loss, irritability, trouble sleeping, excess crying, and anxiety. Since people with ADHD can have these same symptoms when not taking stimulant medicines, it's often hard to tell if the medicine is causing the problem. In children 5 to 15 years old, trouble sleeping is slightly more common with dextroamphetamine than with methylphenidate. To lower the chance of trouble sleeping, avoid giving your child medicine in the late afternoon or evening. Some children might develop small, jerky movements called tics. These usually disappear when the dose of the medicine is lowered.

Serious potential side effect of stimulant drugs

There has been concern by the FDA that Adderall® could be linked to sudden, unexplained deaths in some children. This drug is currently being reevaluated. There aren't clear differences in side effects between amphetamine salts, methylphenidate, and dextroamphetamine.

Stunting growth and ADHD drugs

Some parents worry that using stimulants for many years may curb a child's growth. Long-term studies about the effects of stimulants in children haven't been done. Some recent research showed no difference in height and weight in children taking methylphenidate or other stimulant drugs especially over their entire growth period. Physical and psychological dependence hasn't been reported in people taking stimulant medications for ADHD as directed by their physicians.

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