7 Serious Side Effects of ADHD Drugs


Poor appetite, weight loss, upset stomach, irritability, mood changes, headaches, dry mouth, insomnia, dysphoria and increase in blood pressure are the side effects of ADHD drugs.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder. It causes a range of symptoms. These include:

  • Problem in concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hyperactivity
  • And an inability to finish task

Medications can help decrease ADHD symptoms in children and adults. Treatment approaches can vary between children and adults, and not every person with ADHD takes the same drugs. In fact, many drugs are available to treat ADHD. The right ADHD medication can make life much easier for children and adults who have this order. But medications can also cause severe side effects; including headaches, sleep problems, and a blunted appetite.

When these responses are internalized, it can imitate a full, major mood disorder complete with suicidal ideation. The sudden change from feeling perfectly fine to feeling intensely sad that results from RSD is often misdiagnosed as rapid cycling BPD.

ADHD Drugs: 7 Serious Side Effects

side effects of adhd drugs

Poor Appetite/Weight Loss/Upset Stomach

Approximately one-third of adult and paediatric ADHD patients report appetite suppression at therapeutic dosages, but in most patients this effect is transient or clinically insignificant. If a child taking psycho-stimulants is not eating or gaining weight appropriately it should be the cause of concern. Stimulant medications can trigger appetite suppression and weight loss in children, which can be alarming to parents.


Parents can minimize the effects by being flexible with meal schedules. Don’t force your children to eat, but offer them snacks whenever they are hungry. It may be that they eat later in the day, and snack in the evening.

Numerous studies have shown that decreased appetite generally tapers off over the first several weeks of a medication regimen.

Irritability and Mood Changes

A mood swing can consist of a small change in emotional perception, which can be triggered by a minor event, like missing a train or unexpectedly getting bad grade on a test. But drastic — and frequent — mood swings are usually caused by deeper issues, such as depressive diseases, low self-esteem, unhealthy diet, alcoholism, degenerative diseases of the central nervous system — or even the side effects of certain medications.

No drugs are entirely exempt from pestering side effects. Typically, these medications alter brain chemistry and mess with the normal balance of neurotransmitters and can lead to mood swings.


Primary headaches are common in the paediatric population, predominantly migraine and tension type headaches. Since primary headaches may become disabling for children, several studies focused on the impact of headaches on school performance, however the impact was reported to be minimal for most children. Attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities are also common among the paediatric population and are considered to be important factors leading to poor academic performance.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth (clinically termed xerostomia) is a condition in which your salivary glands can no longer produce normal saliva flow due to mouth breathing while sleeping, medications, age, dehydration, illnesses, cancer treatment and more. Saliva production is an important bodily function as it helps protect the mouth from infection by controlling bacteria, keeping the mouth moist and clean, and neutralizing the acids produced by dental plaque. Dry mouth is a very common condition and is often seen as a side effect of these types of medications.



About 20% of children and 75% to 80% of adults have difficulty falling asleep while taking ADHD medications. For many patients it is not the medications but the mental and physical restlessness of ADHD that disturbs sleep.

Discourage using any hypnotic to treat insomnia that occurs as a side effect. Also avoid anti-histamines that may leave the patient sedated the next day.


Dysphoria is Greek for “difficult to bear.” It’s not that people with attention deficit disorder are wimps, or weak; it’s that the emotional response hurts them much more than it does people without the condition. The volatile (and sometimes destructive) emotions associated with ADHD can manifest as frustration, sensitivity, or tendency to feeling sad.

Researchers have ignored the emotional component of ADHD because it cannot be measured. Yet emotional disruptions are the most impairing aspects of ADHD at any age. It is the hallmark symptom of an atypical mood disorder.

Increased blood pressure

Stimulants usually prompt slight increases in heart rate and raise blood pressure, and even these changes can increase the risk of heart problems in someone who is vulnerable. Adults with hypertension who are considering the drugs should have their blood pressure stabilized first, doctors say. Ideally, doctors should be screening patients for these things up front, before prescribing the drugs.