Some ADHD Drugs May Increase Psychosis Risk

A commonly prescribed class of drugs used to treat ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) may slightly increase the risk of developing psychosis in teens and young adults.

The stimulant medications in question, amphetamines, go by the brand names Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine).

Researchers examined health insurance claims on more than 220,000 people between the ages of 13 and 25 diagnosed with ADHD. They were prescribed either an amphetamine medication or methylphenidate, which is known by the brand names Ritalin and Concerta.

Results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that one out of every 486 patients that started on an amphetamine developed psychosis and subsequently started on an antipsychotic drug. For those on methylphenidate, the figure was one in 1,046.

The study only looked at new users of amphetamine or methylphenidate. Researchers noted that the risk of psychosis appears to happen early on, and if someone has been on an amphetamine for a long time with no issues, there’s likely no need to switch medications.

However, they say that because the two classes of drugs have similar effectiveness, it’s important for healthcare providers to discuss with ADHD patients the risks associated with each drug and why they are prescribing one over the other.

In the US, about 5 million people under the age of 25 are prescribed a medication for ADHD.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


Did you find this article helpful?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News

Covid-19: Side Effects of Trump’s Treatments

Covid-19: Side Effects of Trump’s Treatments

President Donald Trump announced (via Twitter, of course) what some considered unthinkable, and others considered inevitable — that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Over the weekend, he received various treatments  — supplements like vitamin D, zinc and melatonin, an experimental antibody combination, an antiviral drug and a powerful anti-inflammatory…

Un-Sheltering Tips for Your Health and Immune System

Un-Sheltering Tips for Your Health and Immune System

As we all emerge from our bubbles of limited contact with others, we are walking straight into the double whammy of flu season and COVID-19 germs. Can your body fight off exposure to the flu and COVID? Your immune system feeds off the basics of life — sleep, movement, food…

  • Advertisement