The use of ADHD drugs is turning children as young as five into psychotics, a new study has revealed.
Many of them have attempted suicide or are severely depressed while on the controversial drugs.
According to reports from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, at least 30 children have had severe psychotic episodes and wanted to kill themselves.
However, the true extent of the side effects is unknown, with many doctors and parents under-reporting the impact.
Child experts have cast doubts on the use of heavy stimulants. They believe that the drugs, including the failed adult anti-depressant Strattera, could be masking true psychological problems of children.
It is difficult to know whether the drugs are causing a child to become suicidal or if the tendencies already existed, said Dr Jon Juriedini, head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital.
"It is difficult to say whether a drug is good or bad based on the adverse reactions," the Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.
"However when a drug such as Ritalin or Strattera is not proving to be beneficial . . . you need to weigh up the side effects and ensure you don't get adverse reactions. There's very poor evidence that they are effective in anybody," he added.
"I think the medication has some side effects that increase suicide. If the underlying cause for a child's behaviour is something else like trauma or depression then (ADHD) masks the fact that kids need some other form of support," Childhood Foundation CEO Dr Joe Tucci said.