April 23, 2024

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Common ADHD Medications Found to Have Additional Surprising Benefits

Common ADHD Medications Found to Have Additional Surprising Benefits

Common ADHD Medications Found to Have Additional Surprising Benefits

A new study has found that ADHD medications not only alleviate symptoms but also promote overall mental health by improving symptoms of coexisting mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Anxiety disorders have been traditionally viewed as independent mental illnesses requiring specialized treatments, whether pharmacological, therapeutic, or a combination of both.

It was only when individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) began medication treatment and experienced a reduction in both anxiety and ADHD symptoms that the intrinsic connection between the two was realized. After examining the association between the use of specific ADHD medications and their impact on mental health-related issues, a new study appears to have drawn a similar conclusion.

In most cases, ADHD results from the interaction of genetic and environmental risk factors. Its multifactorial basis also leads to a diversity of ADHD behavioral symptoms, including associations or comorbidities with other mental disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and intellectual and learning disabilities. Recommended ADHD medication treatments are divided into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants, both of which are generally effective for ADHD symptoms.

In the current study, researchers examined data from 221,714 individuals aged 16 to 65 diagnosed with ADHD nationwide. Among them, 56.5% had a coexisting mental disorder, with the most common being anxiety or stress-related disorders (24%) and depressive and/or manic-depressive disorders (19.5%). Researchers analyzed the association between specific medications and the risk of psychiatric-related hospitalization, non-psychiatric-related hospitalization, work disability (defined as missing more than 14 days of work due to illness and/or receiving disability benefits), and suicide attempt or death by suicide (suicidal behavior). Non-psychiatric-related hospitalizations were primarily studied as potential safety indicators, such as hospitalizations due to adverse reactions to ADHD medications (e.g., seizures).

During a 15-year follow-up period, methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) was the most commonly used ADHD medication, with 68.5% of participants having used this medication, followed by Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse and Elvanse) at 35.2%, combination therapy with two or more medications at 27.1%, and atomoxetine (Strattera) at 15.6%.

Common ADHD Medications Found to Have Additional Surprising Benefits

Researchers found that the use of ADHD medications, particularly stimulants like Lisdexamfetamine, dexamphetamine (Dexedrine), amphetamine, and methylphenidate, was associated with a reduced risk of psychiatric hospitalization, suicidal behavior, and non-psychiatric-related hospitalization. Lisdexamfetamine, in particular, was consistently associated with a reduced risk of psychiatric hospitalization and suicidal behavior. The non-stimulant atomoxetine was only associated with a reduced risk of work disability, especially in adolescents and young adults.

“While there have been concerns that amphetamine-type drugs and methylphenidate may increase the risk of adverse mental disorders such as psychosis and mania, our study results suggest that overall, their net effect on mental illness is positive,” the researchers said. “This is consistent with several previous studies showing a reduction in the risk of suicidal behavior and substance use disorders and a lower incidence and recurrence rate of depression during the use of ADHD medications.”

While the strength of this study lies in its use of national data from a large representative cohort, the researchers noted that this could also be a limitation. The data source used lacked clinical data, including the types and severity of symptoms and comorbid symptoms related to coexisting mental disorders. They also lacked data on non-pharmacological treatments such as psychoeducation and psychotherapy and did not know if patients had the opportunity to receive these treatments. Additionally, the study results only apply to healthcare systems similar to Sweden’s, where healthcare is equally accessible to all residents, and the study participants may not fully represent the diversity of the global population.

Nevertheless, the study results are still very insightful. “Given the high prevalence of comorbid mental illnesses in patients with ADHD, these results suggest that the use of ADHD medications can reduce the incidence of comorbid mental illnesses in adolescents and adults with ADHD,” the researchers said.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

Common ADHD Medications Found to Have Additional Surprising Benefits

(source:internet, reference only)

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