Neurological and psychiatric adverse effects of long-term methylphenidate treatment in ADHD: A map of the current evidence

ADDUCE Consortium, Helga Krinzinger, Charlotte L. Hall, Madeleine J. Groom, Mohammed T. Ansari, Tobias Banaschewski, Jan K. Buitelaar, Sara Carucci, David Coghill, Marina Danckaerts, Ralf W. Dittmann, Bruno Falissard, Peter Garas, Sarah K. Inglis, Hanna Kovshoff, Puja Kochhar, Suzanne McCarthy, Peter Nagy, Antje Neubert, Samantha RobertsKapil Sayal, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Ian C. K. Wong, Jun Xia, Alexander Zuddas, Chris Hollis, Kerstin Konrad, Elizabeth B. Liddle (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
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Methylphenidate (MPH), the most common medication for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in many countries, is often prescribed for long periods of time. Any long-term psychotropic treatment in childhood raises concerns about possible adverse neurological and psychiatric outcomes. We aimed to map current evidence regarding neurological and psychiatric outcomes, adverse or beneficial, of long-term MPH (> 1 year) treatment in ADHD. We coded studies using a "traffic light" system: Green: safe/favours MPH; Amber: warrants caution; Red: not safe/not well-tolerated. Un-categorisable study findings were coded as "Unclear". Although some evidence suggests an elevated risk of psychosis and tics, case reports describe remission on discontinuation. Several studies suggest that long-term MPH may reduce depression and suicide in ADHD. Evidence suggests caution in specific groups including pre-school children, those with tics, and adolescents at risk for substance misuse. We identified a need for more studies that make use of large longitudinal databases, focus on specific neuropsychiatric outcomes, and compare outcomes from long-term MPH treatment with outcomes following shorter or no pharmacological intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-968
Number of pages24
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date20 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • ADHD
  • Adverse neuropsychiatric events
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar
  • Long-term methylphenidate treatment
  • Mood
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Tics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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