- ADHD Symptoms in Children Slideshow Pictures
- Take the ADHD Quiz
- Parenting a Child with ADHD Slideshow
- What is methylphenidate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for methylphenidate?
- Is this drug available as a generic in generic form?
- Do I need a prescription for methylphenidate?
- What are the side effects of methylphenidate?
- What is the dosage for methylphenidate?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with methylphenidate?
- Is methylphenidate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about this drug?
What is methylphenidate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Methylphenidate is a medication that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS or brain) in a manner that is similar to the amphetamines; however, its actions are milder than those of the amphetamines. An additional difference is that methylphenidate produces more noticeable effects on mental activities than on motor activities. Methylphenidate and amphetamines both have abuse potential. In treating children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), methylphenidate produces a calming effect. This results in a reduction in hyperactivity and an improvement in attention span. Methylphenidate also is used to treat excessive sleepiness. Methylphenidate was approved by the FDA in 1955.
What brand names are available for methylphenidate?
Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Concerta, Methylin, Methylin ER, Daytrana, Quillivant XR Metadate CD, Metadate ER
What are the side effects of methylphenidate?
The most common side effects with methylphenidate are:
Insomnia can be limited by taking the drug before noon. For children taking methylphenidate for ADHD, the most common side effects are loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss, and sleep problems. The rate and severity of these side effects are less than that seen with dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine).
Other important side effects of methylphenidate include:
- involuntary movements,
- chest pain,
- increased heart rate,
- increased blood pressure, and
There have been rare reports of Tourette's syndrome, a syndrome in which there are uncontrollable tics such as grimacing occurring with methylphenidate use. Because of the potential for side effects, methylphenidate should be used with caution by patients who have relatives with Tourette's syndrome or have the syndrome themselves or who have severe anxiety, seizures, psychosis, emotional instability, major depression, glaucoma, or motor tics.
Sudden discontinuation of long-term methylphenidate therapy may unmask depression. Gradual withdrawal, under supervision, is recommended.
Methylphenidate is habit forming and should be used cautiously in individuals with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Chronic abuse can lead to tolerance and psychological dependence leading to abnormal behavior.
Priapism defined as painful and nonpainful penile erection lasting more than 4 hours, have been reported in pediatric and adult patients treated with stimulants. The erection usually resolves when the drug is stopped. Prompt medical attention is required in the event of suspected priapism.
What is the dosage for methylphenidate?
The dose of methylphenidate is adjusted based on patients' responses. It may be given once, twice, or three times daily depending on formulation.
The recommended dose for Concerta is 18-72 mg once daily.
The recommended dose for Ritalin LA is 10-60 mg once daily and for regular Ritalin the recommended dose is 10-60 mg daily in 2 or 3 divided doses.
Which drugs or supplements interact with methylphenidate?
The stimulation effects of methylphenidate on the CNS can be additive when used with other chemicals and medications that stimulate the CNS, such as caffeine (found in coffee, tea, or cola drinks), and pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine (found in many cough-and-cold preparations). The combination of methylphenidate and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane), should not be taken with methylphenidate since a hypertensive crisis (severely high blood pressure) may occur. Moreover, methylphenidate should not be given to any patient within 14 days of receiving such an inhibitor. The blood pressure lowering effects of medications used to treat hypertension may be reduced by methylphenidate. As a result, blood pressure needs to be monitored when starting or stopping methylphenidate in patients who are receiving medications for controlling their blood pressure.
PREGNANCY There are no adequate studies of methylphenidate in pregnant women.
Is methylphenidate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is not known if methylphenidate is secreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about this drug?
What preparations of methylphenidate are available?
- Tablets: 5, 10, and 20 mg (Ritalin);
- Sustained-release tablets (Ritalin SR): 20 mg;
- Long acting tablets (Ritalin LA): 20, 30, and 40 mg.
- Extended release tablets (Concerta): 18, 27, 36, and 54 mg.
- Chewable tablets (Methylin): 2.5, 5, and 10 mg;
- Solution (Methylin): 5 mg/5 ml, 10 mg/5 ml.
- Extended release tablets (Methylin ER, Metadate ER): 10, 20 mg.
- Extended release capsules (Metadate): 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 mg.
How should I keep methylphenidate stored?
Tablets should be kept at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Concerta, Methylin, Methylin ER, Daytrana, Quillivant XR, Metadate CD, Metadate ER) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy and children with ADHD. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, patient safety information, and pregnancy efficacy should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Childhood ADHD Quiz: Test, Symptoms & Medication
Find out causes, symptoms, and treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a widespread behavioral condition...
Addicted to Pills: The Health Risks of Drug Abuse
What is drug abuse? Learn about prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including depressants, pain relievers,...
Related Disease Conditions
Childhood ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems...
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one...
Sleep Disorders (How to Get a Good Night's Sleep)
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep...
Tourette syndrome is disorder, which symptoms include involuntary facial tics, motor tics, and vocal tics. The cause of Tourette...
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that tends to occur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. Symptoms...
Narcolepsy (Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Medication)
Causes of narcolepsy, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, have not been fully determined. Some theories include...
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and...
Learning disabilities can cause an individual to have trouble learning and using skills such as reading, listening, writing,...
Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
About 2%-6% of adults have ADHD, a common behavioral problem. Symptoms include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention....
Paraphilias are characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors involving unusual objects or activities. Exhibitionism,...
Fragile X Syndrome
Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of mental retardation. It's caused by a mutation on the X chromosome. People...
Autism Spectrum Disorder (In Children and Adults)
Autism in children and adults is a developmental disorder, characterized by impaired development in communication, social...
Kleine-Levin syndrome is a rare sleep condition, primarily affecting adolescent males. Symptoms of Kleine-Levin syndrome include...
13 Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD
Parenting a teenager who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging. Parents can use specific...
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens is a disruption of neurocognitive functioning. Genetics contribute to...
Misophonia is defined as the hatred of sound. Symptoms of this condition include a negative emotional response to certain trigger...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- ADHD FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Prescription Drug Abuse
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Exercise Helps Counter Cancer-Linked Fatigue
- Kids With ADHD Make 6.1 Million Doctor Visits a Year in U.S.: CDC
- Meds May Curb Risky Behaviors for Kids With ADHD
- ADHD Meds May Pose Heart Risks for Some Kids
- Could ADHD Drugs Lower Kids' Bone Density?
- More College Students Misusing ADHD Med as Study Aid
- ADHD Meds May Raise Risk for Psychotic Side Effects in Some Kids: Study
- Medication Linked to Fewer Injuries in Kids With ADHD
- Two Generic Versions of ADHD Drug Not as Effective: FDA
- Medications Plus Parent Training May Help Kids With Aggression, ADHD
- ADHD Drug Ritalin Boosted Self-Control in Tests
- Study: Kids With ADHD, Aggression May Benefit From 2nd Med
- Many ADHD Drugs Linked to Painful Erections: FDA
- Research Shows How Ritalin Affects Brains of Kids With ADHD
- Most Docs Don't Follow ADHD Treatment Guidelines for Preschoolers: Study
- Parent-Focused Classes May Help Tots at Risk for ADHD
- Medical Marijuana: Voodoo or Legitimate Therapeutic Choice?
- Delaying ADHD Meds Could Hurt Kids' Math Scores
- Prescription Drugs for Kids: What's Up, Down
- ADHD Drug Shortage Pushes Parents to Seek Substitutes
- ADHD Drug Shortages: Why?
- ADHD Drugs Likely Do Not Boost Heart Risk
- Number of U.S. Kids on ADHD Meds Keeps Rising
- Survey Reveals Rx Drug Abuse by Teens
- Treating Non-motor Symptoms of Parkinson's
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.