Drug Side Effects

drug sideeffectsAll drugs have side effects. This is just a fact of life.  Some side effects are worse than others, and some benefits of taking a medication are more valuable and important than others.  Some medicines, do save lives.  Others are simply marketed into existence.

When it comes to the psychiatric medications given to children for various emotional and behavioral  problems, the actual benefits are under serious debate.  The side effects, however, have been proven time and time again.

A common practice when talking to a parent about giving their child a psychiatric medication is to exaggerate the potential benefits and to underplay the risks. Just because you are handed a piece of paper with all the cautions in fine print does not mean you have been fully informed and can now give informed consent. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on our government to protect us from dangerous drugs and doctors frequently don’t have the time to study all the effects of these drugs. (Many doctors get all their prescribing information from Drug Reps whose job it is to sell the drugs manufactured by their employers.)  This is why it is so important to understand these drug effects ourselves and to get as many “second” opinions as we need in order to ensure we are not sending our child down the dark road of side effects and addiction.

Warning: Do not discontinue a child’s prescription medication such as stimulants or antidepressants without first consulting a non- psychiatric health care professional. The withdrawal symptoms can be more severe than the adverse reactions to these medications; therefore, the process must be closely monitored by a health care professional.

Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems. In short, it is not only dangerous to start taking psychiatric drugs, it can also be dangerous to stop them. Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision.

Here is a list of just a few of the side effects and bad reactions that have been found to be connected with some of these medications:

ADHD Medications such as Ritalin and Concerta (methylphenidate) can produce side effects such as:

Methylphenidate can be habit-forming.

May cause sudden death in children and teenagers, especially children or teenagers with heart defects or serious heart problems.

Methylphenidate may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nervousness
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • muscle tightness
  • uncontrollable movement of a part of the body
  • restlessness
  • numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • decreased sexual desire
  • painful menstruation

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • excessive tiredness
  • slow or difficult speech
  • fainting
  • weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • seizures
  • changes in vision or blurred vision
  • agitation
  • believing things that are not true
  • feeling unusually suspicious of others
  • hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
  • motor tics or verbal tics
  • depression
  • abnormally excited mood
  • mood changes
  • fever
  • hives
  • rash
  • blistering or peeling skin
  • itching
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Seroquel (quetiapine) and other antipsychotics can produce:

Risk of Suicidality:

A small number of children, teenagers, and young adults (up to 24 years of age) who took antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as quetiapine during clinical studies became suicidal (thinking about harming or killing oneself, or planning or trying to do so). Children, teenagers, and young adults who take antidepressants to treat depression or other mental illnesses may be more likely to become suicidal than children, teenagers, and young adults who do not take antidepressants to treat these conditions. However, experts are not sure about how great this risk is and how much it should be considered in deciding whether a child or teenager should take an antidepressant. Children younger than 18 years of age should not normally take quetiapine, but in some cases, a doctor may decide that quetiapine is the best medication to treat a child’s condition

Quetiapine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • pain in the joints, back, neck, or ears
  • weakness
  • dry mouth
  • indigestion
  • constipation
  • gas
  • stomach pain or swelling
  • increased appetite
  • excessive weight gain
  • stuffy nose
  • headache
  • irritability
  • difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • difficulty speaking or using language
  • loss of coordination
  • unusual dreams
  • numbness, burning, or tingling in the arms or legs
  • missed menstrual periods
  • breast enlargement in males
  • discharge from the breasts
  • decreased sexual desire or ability

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING or SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:

  • fainting
  • seizures
  • changes in vision
  • uncontrollable movements of your arms, legs, tongue, face, or lips
  • painful erection of the penis that lasts for hours
  • fever
  • muscle stiffness, pain, or weakness
  • excess sweating
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • confusion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • sore throat, fever, chills, difficult or painful urination, and other signs of infection
  • hives
  • rash
  • blisters
  • tightening of the neck muscles or the throat
  • tongue sticking out
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac (fluoxetine)

A small number of children, teenagers, and young adults (up to 24 years of age) who took antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as fluoxetine during clinical studies became suicidal (thinking about harming or killing oneself or planning or trying to do so). Children, teenagers, and young adults who take antidepressants to treat depression or other mental illnesses may be more likely to become suicidal than children, teenagers, and young adults who do not take antidepressants to treat these conditions.

Fluoxetine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nervousness
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • sore throat
  • drowsiness
  • weakness
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • changes in sex drive or ability
  • excessive sweating

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:

  • rash
  • hives
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • fever, sweating, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeat, and severe muscle stiffness
  • seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist (hallucinating)
  • seizures

 

Newer ADHD Drugs and Their Side Effects : Intinuniv and Vyvanse

If a doctor wants to prescribe a different or newer medication than one mentioned here, don’t assume this medication is safe.  Read, study and understand the possible side effects.  These reactions really do happen and have happened.  Don’t play Russian Roulette with the future of your child.

To read about the side effects of any FDA approved medication you can go to medline plus and search by brand or chemical name.