The answer unfortunately is that we don’t really know the long term effects of the medications used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Recently, Italian researchers searched medical databases, including Medline, for studies on the long terms effects of ADHD drugs such as Ritalin. Surprisingly they found only six studies examining the long term effects of these stimulant medications. In addition, all 6 studies were funded by drug companies who have a vested interest in the outcome of these studies.
In the US alone, over three million children take medication for ADHD. Yet the medications they are taking have not been fully studied.
“We have too few long-term studies on the effects of these medicines,” pediatrician Dr. Sanford Newmark told Reuters Health. “There’s a big, big gap in our understanding of what the effects of these medicines might be. It’s worrisome.”
The side effects we do know about include:
- mood swings
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain
- suicidal thoughts
- prolonged and painful erections
- delayed growth
Most of these side effects occurred with both stimulant and non stimulant medications. In general the side effects are more common with the stimulant class of ADHD drugs that includes Ritalin, Concerta, Straterra, Dexedrine, Adderall, Focalin, and Vyvanse.
“It is very important for us as doctors to base our practice not on what the companies say but on objective evidence,” Newmark said. “It’s easier and cheaper for the pharmaceutical companies to do short-term studies and say, ‘Look, the medicine works.’”
Is your child on medication for ADHD? If so, please share your experience in the comments below.
©Mary M Conneely T/A Advocacy in Action