Researchers found evidence that a common type of ADHD medication can increase the risk for psychosis among first time users.
Who are more likely to experience this, and who do not need to worry about the said adverse effects?
There has been an increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cases in the United States in recent years, with over 6 million children and teenagers being diagnosed with the condition. About 5 million people under 25 years old are given medications for the condition and often, they are prescribed with amphetamines or methylphenidates.
For a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at insurance claims databases on patients who started taking amphetamines or methylphenidates between 2004 and mid-2015, and found an increase in psychosis risk among those who started taking amphetamines. Specifically, one out of 1,046 patients taking methylphenidates developed psychosis and needed medications to treat it, while one in 486 patients taking amphetamines had the same experience.
According to researchers, the data shows that amphetamines or Adderall-type drugs increased the risk for developing psychosis.
That said, as deeply concerning as the results are, the researchers point out that they only looked at new users of both types of drugs and not the long-term users. As such, those who have been successfully taking the medications without experiencing adverse effects do not need to be concerned, especially since most of the psychotic episodes occurred within the first months of usage.
What’s important, they say, is having a conversation between doctors and patients as to why they are choosing one drug over the other, especially when guidelines say that both medications have similar effects. Furthermore, they note that those with a family history of psychosis have a higher risk of developing psychosis as well, so for those patients it might be wise to avoid drugs that can increase that risk.
Alternatively, the researchers also note that taking medications is not the only way to treat ADHD, but that behavioral therapy for both patients and their parents may be beneficial as well.