Common ADHD Medication Side Effects

When a child has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, doctors typically prescribe stimulant medications that increase the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. While these medications effectively help ADHD, these drugs can also cause unwanted side effects.

If your health care provider has prescribed ADHD medications for your child, reviewing these side effects can help you develop coping strategies and understand when to seek medical help for complications.

Good sleep can also make a difference in the quantity and quality. For example, try one or more of the following:

Decreased Appetite

With extended-release medications, an early dose before school or work often means a loss of appetite at lunchtime. When you first start taking these drugs, try to eat whenever you feel hungry and have snacks available for your child when he or she does feel the urge to eat. Try serving a healthy, hearty breakfast before the morning dose. However, it can be beneficial to inquire with your doctor about all options for your child, such as immediate release medication.

It is important to notify your doctor if you notice any severe weight loss or change in appetite with your child.


kids commonly have headaches, sometimes with nausea, when they start taking ADHD medication. Usually, this side effect subsides in a few weeks. In a meantime, try taking each dose with food. Your doctor may also recommend an alternate schedule for taking the medication.


While most mood changes associated with ADHD drugs are subtle, some people may become aggressive, angry, manic, anxious or emotionally unresponsive. Kids may become cranky or irritable as the medication dose wears off. Doctors call this the rebound effect and it's important that you notify your doctor if this is occuring in case they decide to change the dose of the medication.

If you have bothersome symptoms after you begin taking a prescription medication for ADHD, your doctor may adjust the dosage or specific prescription. Try keeping a record of the side effects experienced by  your child so you can follow up with your healthcare provider. In addition to the above, other common side effects of ADHD prescription medications may include muscle tics, dizziness, stomach aches, dry mouth and nervousness. 

If you are in need of support but want to explore other options before trying prescriptions medications, look into ADHD products with no harmful side effects.