ADHD, Concerta and Seizures

For people who have ADHD (or ADD) and Epilepsy, there has been concern over the years as to whether taking ADHD medication, such as Ritalin, may worsen seizures.
Researchers from Harvard have just presented their data from a study which reviewed the impact of Concerta on seizures. The results are reassuring for ADHD and epilepsy sufferers.

This study included 27 children, with a mean age of 10, with ADHD and epilepsy. This was a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, cross over study. In other words, it was very well designed.

In the end the researchers were able to conclude that Concerta does not induce seizures.

This should help to reassure parents of children with ADHD and seizures that Concerta is safe in this combination of disorders.

Of course it is important to review your particular situation with your doctor.

Also, as is always the case in science – replication of studies is important to verify and truly establish facts.


  1. What about the risks of Risperdal .250 mg to treat minor emotional issues (no mood disorder testing or diagnosis) in children? My son is adhd inattentive type, LD in non-verbal areas, and gifted according to wisc-iv. I know it is not FDA approved for this use but is prescribed.

    As a parent, it feels like using and antipsychotic like Risperdal is a sledge hammer approach to a minor emotional problem. Your general thoughts and views about Risperdal in kids fitting this profile would be appreciated. Thanks

  2. Hi Ally,
    Thanks for your comments.
    Yes, risperidone can be used in kids, despite the fact that it is not approved by the FDA, or Health Canada for use in ADHD.
    It is originally an antipsychotic – i.e. to treat schizophrenia. It was then proven to treat bipolar disorder (manic depression). It now has also been shown to help in treatment refractory depression.
    In kids, it has been shown to help kids with autism, and also conduct disorder (severe behavioral problems).
    Minor side effects: headache, sleepiness, 30% chance of weight gain.
    Moderate side effects: risk of an increase in prolactin – a hormone which promotes breast tissue growth and potentially lactation.
    Rare but big risks: elevation of cholesterol/triglycerides (thus a long term health risk); also a risk of increased blood sugar/diabetes.

    When it comes to making the decision to take risperidone, one needs to balance the risks and benefits. Is risperidone the only option? Could improving the ADHD medicine make a difference to the minor mood symptoms? Are there any side effects? If this is being taken, does it have to be for the long run, or can it just be for the short term?

    To learn more about medication for ADHD, please visit:

    I do plan to write more articles about these ‘add on’ medications for ADD/ADHD, but I will also cover these in the medication course that I will do at the site above.

    Dr. Kenny

  3. Hi Dr. Kenny,

    My son has ADHD and PDD-NOS. He is currently taking Concerta and his doctor recently prescribed Risperidone. About 5 years ago, he was on Ritalin and his doctor at the time had also prescribed Risperidone. What I found then and NOW is that the Risperidone seems to be interacting with the Concerta and causing it to not work. His current psychiatrist says that this is scientifically impossible. What are your thoughts on this?

  4. Hi,
    I cannot comment on your specific situation.
    What I can say is that it is relatively common to use concerta and methylphenidate together. They do not interact with one another. The risperidone may be calming, and may cause sedation, but it is unusual to have it counteract the benefits of the concerta.
    It is best to go back and talk specifics with your doctor.
    Dr. Kenny

  5. My son just started on concerta and has been having seizures since. He was directed to stop taking the concerta by his doctor and they have begun to clear up!

  6. My son started taking cocerta a little over a year and half ago. He has had 3 seizers over the past 5 months. Now he has started taking Trileptal also. I am very concered and have been debating taking him off Concerta.Would like to know your thoughts on this??

  7. adding to the above comment about my son. He is 10 years old, has hearing issues as a result of recurrent ear infections. He is scheduled for having his adenoids and tonsils removed next month. He does have disturbed sleep — snoring and irregular breathing sometimes. He has very bad seasonal allergies. Hope to get a response. THX

  8. Hi Perm,
    This is really a question for your doctor. I can’t give medical advice on a blog!
    I appreciate you sharing your experience, but your doctor will have to evaluate the risks and benefits of staying on the concerta when there are seizures going on.
    All the best,
    Dr. Kenny

  9. What is adhd-mb? My cousins son has it and is about to have surgery and if he makes it which the chances are 50/50 he will be confined to a wheel chair.. What is that MB stand for?

  10. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADD in the second grade. I had my first seizure in the 9th grade. Now I’m a college student. I take trileptal(1500 mg) for seizures and I have never taken any ADD. Being in college the course work has been more challenging. I’ve been scared to take any kind of ADD medicatioN because of my seizure problem. But I need something to help me stay focused and concetrate in class and doing homework. Do u know anything else about this study of concerta and seizures? Or do u have any suggestions?

  11. My husband has epilepsy and takes Divalproex Sod for it. He also has ADD. Can he take any medication for his ADD along with his seizure medication?

  12. hello my son has adhd , heis just turned 16yrs of age and he is currently prescribed concerta xl,rispirodone,melatonin and ritalin…since being on rispiridone he has gained loads of weight and gone up by 3clothes a parent i have spoken to has dr about this and theyv told me its nothing t be concerned about.i just wonder because he has 2ml of rispiridone daily will his weight continue to forever increase?

  13. Hello All. Our 8 yrs. old son suffers from ADD and he has been taking Concerta for a while now. Last night we got home from school aftercare, only to find out he hadn’t completed the day’s homework, which we tried to do as we do every day. We got to a point that, during math work, he refused to even try to solve a problem, arguing that he didn’t understand or know. I tried to explain, even giving him the answers over and over, but he kept the same attitude. I got a bit upset at his lack of effort, even after telling him the answers, and let him know how I felt about it. Then, something happened, that I had never experienced before: He started crying and complaining that his hands hurt, I thought he was faking it, but when he started crying loud I touched his hands and they were stone cold, sweaty, and kind of tucked/curved into his forearm, with him being unable to open them at all. I mean, they were firmly, extremely tight, in such position, and remained so for close to 1 hour. In that time span, I called my doctor and the health plans hotline, who guided me through some questions and determined that it was some sort of emotional issue. I went to the local ER, and by the time we got there he was back to his old self, as if nothing happened. I was scared to death the whole time. Has anyone seen or experience this before? Over the past 2 years we have done all sort of test on him, and I mean, all there’s is to do, and have found nothing. I’m fixing to go to the doctor today and see what else we can do, or what’s the explanation for this event. Any comments?

    • Javier, of course the best solution is your own doctor, because of the fact that your doctor knows your son and can examine him, etc.
      When it comes to concerta, I’ve never heard of this type of reaction. If your son is taking risperidone or other medicines, then it may be related to that. Again, the doctor is best to assess this. I hope things go well. Please let us know.

  14. My 13 yr old son started concerta 3 days ago and had a seizure. scared me to death I dont know if I will ever give him any add meds again. he was only taking 18 mg no history of seizures!

    • My son started having seizures while on concerts. They are grand mal and he stops breathing and turns blue. Its terrifying. I don’t know what to do. We recently tried intuniv since it was a non stimulant and within two hours he was seizing. I don’t know what to do. He needs something he gets in trouble and has been kicked out of school.

  15. Well, I took my son to his doctor, explained the event, and we got him off Concerta (maybe just as a precaution), and instead started alternative therapy (neurofeedback). He seems to be doing better, getting better overall with each week of therapy…

  16. After taking the concerta for 3 days and having a grand mal seizure my son had a sleep deprived eeg which was perfectly normal. The nurse called me with the results and said it must have beeen the coceta.

  17. Javier,
    I understand what you are describing. My 10 yr old had the same kind of episode on the school bus just as she was getting off. I rushed her to the er not knowing what was going on. It lasted about 45 minutes.the er dr diagnosed her with a panic attack. well i contacted her therapist who was quite concerned and ordered a eeg. during the eeg 2 wks after the episode it showed a small seizure. she is now taken seizure meds along with her concerta this is only day two and i am concerened about her not sleeping as of right now she has been up 30 plus hrs. if she dont sleep tonight we will be making a trip to the er. it is frustrating but listen to your dr.

  18. My 15 year old son has had four rather mild episodes of seizure activity (cluster seizures) over the past year. Two of them were recent and occured one week apart. They seem to be getting a little more intense each time. I can’t find anything on-line that describes his type of seizure exactly. He had two heart catheterization ablations in 2008 to correct WPW and had a normal EKG one year ago. He has been on Concerta for over two years, but one epidose occured at the end of the summer this year at which time he had not been taking the meds. So, I’m thinking the meds are not related to the seizures, but I’m not totally convinced. He was sent to the ER with a siezure two weeks ago (on meds at that time) and his EKG was abnormal. His cardiologist wants to do another heart cath just to be safe. MRI was good and EEG is scheduled for next week. Siezures are usually multiple lasting about 30 t0 40 seconds each time. Breathing becomes rapid (I think because he feels it coming), eyes are wide and fixed, speech is slurred if he can speak at all, some mild trembling and/or stiffening, lots of drooling. He doesn’t remember anything during the event itself and will ask me what he was doing. Last time he asked me if his eyes were closed and they were not. He doesn’t fall out or pass out. I suspect these have happened in his sleep as well. He just got his driving permit and was told he can’t drive for one year which has really upset him. Has anyone experienced these particular symptoms related to heart problems or medications?

  19. My son has pddnos and adhd. He started taking Concerta ER about 11 years old. Shortly after starting the Concerta ER he developed seizures. He is now an adult, just had his Concerta ER increased and is experiencing INCREASED SEIZURE activity. I am seriously thinking of taking him off this dang Concerta (I did for 2 days to see how he would do and he did fine.) I think there IS a direct correlation between the Concerta ER and the INCREASED SEIZURES. To me it’s worth trying for a month to see if the seizures subside. At this point I don’t really care if he is as attentive as he needs to be…I don’t want him to suffer with the seizures any more! He has also had increased headache pain that within hours results in him suffering a seizure. PARENTS, PLEASE research side effects of the ADHD medicines and if your child/loved one is suffering from seizure activity AFTER starting Concerta ER PLEASE consult your loved one’s physician. PHYSICIANS…PLEASE don’t ignore this very valid information. It’s excruciating to watch my son go through these terrible headaches and seizures!

  20. My son is 12 years old and has ADD. He was put on concerta about 2 months ago. He has experienced a black out fell to the floor and his body twitched a couple times, could this be from the concerta?

  21. How long does it take for this med to take effect?Conerta..My grandson has been on it for 2 weeks at first he got headache can u break the capsul n put it in food?

  22. My nephew has Autism, and seizure disorder. Now it looks like he may also have ADHD. What ADHD medications would be appropriate?

  23. Question: We just came back from Amen Clinic after a Spect Scan, and our doctor in Miami agreed to give our son 4 x 54 mg of Concerta. he weighs right now 260 pounds and is 25 years old.He is asking for more. He says he needs 5 or 6 x 54mg? I am currently holding his concerta and dispensing it to him everyday. My question is if it is safe to give such high doasges?
    In one place you say the maximun Concerta should be 108mg but in other place based on your comments on Ritalin and weight of a person, he is asking me to give him 5 or 6 pills per day?

    What is your opinion?

    • Michael,
      My opinion is that it is best to speak to your son’s doctor and get clear on what is a safe dose for your son. If you have seen doctors at Amen, and in Miami – call one of them to clarify!
      In different jurisdictions, the maximum of Concerta is either 54 mg or 72 mg. Some doctors go higher with the dose, and I have written 108 mg may be considered at times. Can the dose go higher? yes – if your doctor believes it is safe.
      Best to talk to your doctor (I don’t feel safe on a blog making medicine recommendations like this! I hope you understand).

  24. My 13 year old son just got out of the hospital after experiencing a seizsure while on a trip with his class. The doctors in DC have done an EEG and other test and have confirmed it was seizure. About ten days ago he was raised from 27mg of Concertas to 37. This was done after he said the he could no longer feel the benefit of his medicine. The doctors in DC have concluded that the seizure was a result of the increased dosage, Will no eating enough and being up all night on the tour bus with his classmates. There may be a need to for stronger manufacturer warnings about eating, rest and taking Concerta.

  25. Dear Dr. Kenny,
    Thank you for listening to our concerns and replying with your advises. My son took concerta for about 9 years. Back in May, he started experience unusual side effects. He was becoming more and more isolated. A few weeks go we discovered that he created a person in his mind to whom he communicates. By doctor’s recommendation we took him off concerta, and started risperidone, only 1.5 mg. He is 17 and weights 130 pounds. Because I live in Venezuela, I do not trust ( completely) in the doctors here. I just want to make sure that risperidone is safe to take, and if a treatment with this medication is a long term treatment, or will only be until he stabilizes? When he was little, before taking any medication, he was a considered severe case of adhd (hyperactivity wise).
    Thank you for your comments…

  26. Hi Doctor,

    My 6 yr old son is suffering from epilepsy since Nov-11; now he is being diagnosed with ADHD also.

    Can we prefer to have concerta along with medicines of epilepsy.

    Kindly suggest.

  27. My daughter had a Grand Mal seizure 1 week after starting Concerta. The Drs removed her from all ADHD medication and she hasn’t ever had another in the past 6 years.

  28. My grandson has a had 3 seizure one Grand Mal two smaller ones he is taking concerta however after the 2nd large seizure the ER MD said no more adhd Meds he was then sent to a childrens hospital and the nurologist also said to discontinue his mother has taken him back to the pediatrician and he has again been placed on this medication and has experienced sleepwalking and feel again resulting in a black eye what are the side effects of concerta and the ANti seizure medications

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