It is important to note that people with ADHD may already have a slightly higher risk of suicide. One of the most common symptoms of ADHD is impulsiveness, which may lead to suicide attempts in patients who are depressed.
The problem is that ADHD medications are known to trigger new psychotic behaviors, including depression.
For example, in clinical trials for Concerta, 4% of patients reported depressive mood, and nearly 2% developed depression — about twice the rate compared to patients on a placebo.
The FDA has been reviewing the risk of suicide from Concerta and other ADHD medications since 2005, but warnings have not been updated in the United States.
In May 2015, Health Canada warned about the risk of suicidal behaviors and updated labels on all ADHD medications.
Warnings about suicide have been on the label for Strattera (amoxetine) since 2005, but according to health officials:
“New information has emerged since to suggest that the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours may apply to all other ADHD drugs.”
Health Canada received reports of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and a small number of completed suicides. These events mostly occurred at the start of treatment or during dose changes, but also after stopping treatment.
The agency believes the benefits of these drugs continue to outweigh their risks. The following ADHD drug labels were updated with “stronger, clearer warnings” about suicide:
- ADDERALL XR (mixed salts amphetamine extended-release)
- BIPHENTIN (methylphenidate controlled release)
- CONCERTA (methylphenidate extended release)
- DEXEDRINE (dextroamphetamine sulfate)
- INTUNIV XR (guanfacine extended release)
- RITALIN (methylphenidate)
- RITALIN SR (methylphenidate extended release)
- STRATTERA (atomoxetine)
- VYVANSE (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate)