Side Effects of Ritalin: What to Know

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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is mostly diagnosed at a young age. However, there are many cases where the symptoms persist in adulthood. The disorder can cause one to face challenges in their day-to-day lives because of impulsive behaviors, trouble forming functional relationships and friendships, poor performance in school and work, and low self-esteem. To help manage the symptoms, diverse medications and therapy can be used.

One of the most common drugs used to treat ADHD is Ritalin. This article highlights the side effects of Ritalin and observes a few more features to help you know more about its effects.

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What is Ritalin?

Ritalin is a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder that affects a patient’s ability to sleep or wake up). It can be used alone or combined with other medications.

Ritalin’s generic name is methylphenidate, which is also its active ingredient. Methylphenidate blocks the reuptake of dopamine and noradrenaline. These two chemicals are associated with attention and control of the body.

Ritalin Dosage

Ritalin medication is prescribed in tablet and capsule form. The average dosage for an adult is between 20 to 30 mg daily. It is administered orally and divided into two or three doses depending on the diagnosis.

Doctors advise patients to take Ritalin about 30 to 45 minutes before meals. If patients face sleep problems after taking Ritalin, they should take the last dose by 6 PM. Ritalin is often prescribed for a short term to avoid addiction.

The doctor has to monitor the patient closely after prescription to assess any signs of overdose or drug abuse and reevaluate the need for Ritalin.

If the ADHD symptoms worsen or the patient starts experiencing a negative reaction to the drug, the doctor will consider reducing the dosage or changing to a different medication.

Side Effects of Ritalin in Adults

Like every other drug, Ritalin has some side effects for the users. Before administering this medication to patients, doctors must assess the risk of drug abuse and any cardiac illnesses.

Some side effects are severe, and others are mild, depending on the patient. Most side effects are temporary and will stop once the patient stops using the medication. Ritalin side effects include:

Digestive system
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Indigestion
  • Dry mouth
Musculoskeletal  system
  • Rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pains
Nervous system
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tremors
  • Imapired coordination
  • Involuntary movements
  • Seizures 
  • Problems with visions
  • Vasculitis (Inflammation of blood vessels)
Integumentary system
  • Pruritus 
  • Hair loss
  • Urticaria 
  • Exfoliative dermatitis 
  • Erythema multiforme rash
  • Thrombocytopenic purpura
Cardiovascular system
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Arrhythmias
  • Angina pectoris (chest pain)
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
Blood system
  • Anemia
  • Leukopenia
  • Thrombocytopenia
Respiratory system
  • Cough
  • Nasopharyngitis
Immune system
  • Allergic reactions
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Angioedema (swelling)
  • Anaphylactic reaction 
  • Shock
Psychological effects
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Psychosis
  • Mood changes
Metabolic effects
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

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Ritalin Withdrawal and Abuse

Since Ritalin is a psychostimulant that alters neurochemicals in the brain, it carries a significant risk for dependence and abuse. Therefore, it is necessary to always follow a doctor’s advice on dosage and intake to avoid dependence and addiction.

If a person experiences side effects, they must report it to a doctor immediately instead of going off the drug on their own. Stopping Ritalin abruptly causes withdrawal symptoms; this is why doctors reduce the dosage to ease up on the withdrawal.

The withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be more harmful than the side effects. Mostly, they appear if a patient has been using methylphenidate for a long time or taking it in high doses. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of Ritalin are:

  • Depression
  • Concentration problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Mood changes
  • Suicidal and self-harm thoughts

The Uses of Ritalin for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers

Ritalin and other drugs containing methylphenidate are not usually prescribed to expectant mothers. However, if the patient has been taking the medication before pregnancy, she can continue with the medication throughout the pregnancy with close monitoring. Any indication that the medication is affecting the pregnancy should be assessed immediately by the medical practitioner. There has been no relation between methylphenidate and congenital disabilities, early birth, or miscarriage. Therefore, if Ritalin is offering its benefits to the patients, doctors will advise continuing with the agreed dosage.

Nursing mothers with ADHD can also use Ritalin. There has been limited evidence to show that methylphenidate passes into breast milk. However, patients should know that taking high doses of Ritalin can affect milk production, but following the minimum dosage and having close monitoring can prevent possible methylphenidate side effects.

Any side effects noted on the mother or the child should be reported promptly to the doctor for discontinuation of the medication and reevaluation of other medication options.

In Conclusion

Ritalin is a prescription-only synthetic medication that cannot be bought online or in a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. ADHD patients use the medication to balance the brain chemicals responsible for the fight-or-flight response, reducing impulsiveness in patients. Doctors advise against self-medication and adjusting the prescribed dosage to avoid addiction and severe side effects. If you want to know what medication or another treatment option will help you manage ADHD symptoms, contact EZCare doctors today.


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