Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a common therapy for children and adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Ritalin is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that works by increasing attention and decreasing restlessness as part of a larger treatment plan for ADHD. It is also prescribed to treat narcolepsy.

Ritalin comes in tablet form and is one of the most prescribed drugs to treat mental disorders in children. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, prescriptions for Ritalin and other uses of methylphenidate have increased by 500 percent in the last decade.

Possible Side Effects

Because Ritalin is a stimulant, it can adversely affect pre-existing health conditions. Tell your doctor if you or your child have anxiety, agitation, Tourette syndrome, bipolar disorder, depression, heart problems, hypertension, psychosis, or stomach or bowel problems.

Side effects for Ritalin include decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, headache, upset stomach, and weight loss. Serious side effects that should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fever, high blood pressure, unusual bleeding or bruising, uncontrollable movements, and anxiety.

Besides Ritalin, methylphenidate, is also used in the branded pharmaceuticals Concerta, Methylin, and Metadate.

Ritalin is also a commonly abused drug among teens and young adults.

Learn more about ADHD medications.

View the ADHD Learning Center.