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ADHD Meds & Side Effects

By on June 16, 2014

If you have adult ADHD, medications can bring about huge improvements in your life. But for some people, these drugs come with side effects.

Most of the time, ADHD medication side effects are mild — like upset stomach or insomnia — and fade after a few weeks or months of treatment. Other times, side effects can be more problematic. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do – on your own and with your doctor — to ease your symptoms and smooth out your treatment.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) occurs in both children and adults. ADHD is commonly treated with stimulants, such as: 

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta, Daytrana)
  • Amphetamine (Adderall)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat)

The FDA recommends that any treatment plan for ADHD include an initial health and family history examination. This exam should look for existing heart and psychiatric problems.

In 2002, the FDA approved the nonstimulant medication atomoxetine (Strattera) for use as a treatment for ADHD. In February 2007, the FDA approved the use of the stimulant lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) for the treatment of ADHD in children ages 6 to 12 years.


The non-stimulant ADHD medication called atomoxetine (Strattera) carries another warning. Studies show that children and teenagers with ADHD who take atomoxetine are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than children and teenagers with ADHD who do not take atomoxetine. If your child is taking atomoxetine, watch his or her behavior carefully. Call a doctor right away if your child shows any of the following symptoms:

  • Acting more subdued or withdrawn than usual
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless
  • New or worsening depression
  • Thinking or talking about hurting himself or herself
  • Extreme worry
  • Agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Acting without thinking
  • Extreme increase in activity or talking
  • Frenzied, abnormal excitement

Ideally, the diagnosis of ADHD should be made by a professional in your area with training in ADHD or in the diagnosis of mental disorders.