ADHD Drug May Have Psychotic Side Effects

 In Naturopathic News

Node Smith, ND

A recent study reviewed existing evidence associating various psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations as well as problems with concentration and anxiety with methylphenidate, a common drug used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1 Methylphenidate is more commonly known as Ritalin.

Around 5% of children and adolescents worldwide suffer from ADHD

Currently, it is estimated that around 5% of children and adolescents worldwide suffer from ADHD. Psychostimulants, such as methylphenidate, are the conventional first-choice drug treatment for this condition.


Methylphenidate is a stimulant that increases central nervous system activity. It counters fatigue, and improves attention and alertness. It has been used medically since 1960, and it is estimated that over 2.5 billion doses are consumed annually. Clinical studies have confirmed its relative safety, and even shown that its long-term usage can reduce abnormalities in brain structure and function that are usually associated with ADHD syndrome.

Current scientific review looked at methylphenidate increased risk of psychotic symptoms in children

The current scientific review looked at whether methylphenidate increased the risk of psychotic symptoms in children and adolescents with ADHD. Though the amount of data didn’t allow for any strong conclusions, the research does suggest a possible psychotic adverse symptom rate around 1.1% to 2.5% in ADHD patients treated with methylphenidate.

A warning to physicians and caregivers

The article warns physicians and caregivers to reduce or stop the stimulant medication if psychotic symptoms present.


  1. Ramstad E, et al. Hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms in response to methylphenidate in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a Cochrane systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology. VOLUME 6 , ISSUE 1 , ISSN (Online) 2245-8875, DOI: 10.21307/sjcapp-2018-003, July 2018.

Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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