When You Should Seek Immediate Medical Help

Health Writer

Symptoms of ADHD are not life-threatening and generally do not need emergency medical treatment. There are, however some times when you should contact your doctor immediately or make a visit to the emergency room.

Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Obviously, signs of suicidal thoughts should be immediately addressed and you should seek immediate attention. Since depression is a common comorbid condition, you should be aware of signs of depression that would require you to seek emergency medical treatment:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Harming oneself, such as cutting
  • Preparing for suicide, such as stockpiling pills
  • Sudden withdrawal of social contact, demanding to be left alone
  • Preoccupation with death or dying
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviors
  • Giving away belongings, getting affairs in order, calling people or talking to them as if they will not see then again
  • Severe personality changes
  • Hopelessness

Although these are not the only signs of suicide and everyone that engages in these behaviors will not attempt suicide, it is important to seek medical attention if you believe someone is thinking about taking their own life.

Behavioral Changes

Suicidal thoughts are not the only behavioral changes that may require immediate medical help. As a general rule, if a person is not able to perform normal daily activities, it is time to seek medical help.

Some examples include:

Self neglect is when a person will not eat or drink enough to sustain themselves or does not perform normal daily tasks such as hygiene, washing clothes, living in unsanitary conditions or not getting medical attention. If someone is refusing to care for himself or herself, you should seek immediate medical attention for him or her.

Extreme anger, especially for no reason. If someone becomes angry or has fits of anger, for no reason or is extremely exaggerated for the situation, it may signal a problem.

Behaviors in which you feel either the person exhibiting the behavior or those around him or her are in physical danger.

Violent behaviors

Behaviors that may cause serious property damage

Medication Side Effects

Most medications cause side effects, however, most side effects are mild and normally disappear within a few weeks. Most people tolerate ADHD medications with a minimum of side effects. There are, however, some side effects are serious and would require immediate medical care:

  • Anxiety, nervousness and mood changes
  • Chest pain, irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rash
  • Uncontrollable tics
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Problems urinating or discolored urine
  • Yellow color in skin or in the whites of your eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Mood changes including irritability, agitation or excessive crying or depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness


Usually, insomnia will not require emergency medical care. If insomnia lasts more than a few weeks, you should contact your doctor and set an appointment. However is insomnia and lack of sleep are causing problems with coordination or interferes with your ability to perform daily tasks, you should contact your doctor sooner than a few weeks.

Because insomnia may be a result of another medical condition, but be misunderstood as a symptom of ADHD, if you have problems breathing or intense or worsening pain, you should seek medical assistance.

For additional information:

When to See a Doctor About ADHD

Side Effects of Commonly Prescribed Medications for ADHD