Provigil (modafinil) is a prescription drug used to treat excessive sleepiness. Provigil can cause side effects that range from mild to serious. Examples include heart-related side effects, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.

Provigil is prescribed for adults with the following conditions to help improve wakefulness:

Provigil comes as a tablet you swallow. It contains the active ingredient modafinil. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)

Most Provigil side effects are mild. But the drug does have some rare yet serious side effects to watch out for.

Keep reading to learn about the common, mild, and serious side effects Provigil can cause. For a general overview of the drug, including details about its uses, see this article.

Some people may experience mild to serious side effects during Provigil treatment. Examples of the drug’s commonly reported side effects include:

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people taking Provigil in studies. Not everyone will experience these side effects.

Mild side effects have been reported with Provigil. Some of these include:

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed. But if you have symptoms that are ongoing or bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And do not stop taking Provigil unless your doctor recommends it.

Provigil may cause mild side effects other than those listed above. See the drug’s prescribing information for details.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Serious side effects are rare with Provigil but have been reported in studies. Some, such as heart-related and mental health-related side effects, may be more likely in people who had heart or mental health conditions before starting Provigil. Talk with your doctor to see whether you have an increased risk of experiencing a serious side effect.

Serious side effects include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Provigil, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Provigil, visit MedWatch.

Help is out there

If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:

If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.

If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.

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Get answers to some frequently asked questions about Provigil’s side effects.

How do side effects of Provigil compare with those of Ritalin?

Provigil and Ritalin (another drug used to treat narcolepsy) are both stimulant drugs and share some common side effects. These include headache, heart palpitations, insomnia (trouble sleeping), anxiety, nausea, dry mouth, and loss of appetite.

Can Provigil cause changes in your weight?

Yes, Provigil could cause changes in your weight. This drug may cause loss of appetite, which could lead to weight loss. Talk with your doctor if you’ve lost your appetite and have weight loss that’s bothersome. They may be able to recommend other treatment options for your condition.

Does Provigil cause long-term side effects?

If you take Provigil long-term, you may be more likely to develop physical or psychological dependence. (This is when your body gets used to a drug and needs it for you to function as usual.)

This is rare, though, and may be more likely to occur if Provigil is misused. (With misuse, a person takes a drug in a way or for a reason other than how or why it was prescribed.)

Learn more about some of the side effects Provigil may cause.

Heart-related side effects

Rare but sometimes serious heart-related side effects were reported in Provigil studies. Heart-related side effects may include chest pain, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath. You may have an increased risk of heart-related side effects if you have heart disease.

What might help

Tell your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms noted above. They’ll decide whether it’s safe for you to continue taking Provigil. If any of your symptoms seem life threatening, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Severe skin rash

Severe skin rash requiring hospitalization was reported in Provigil studies. This side effect is rare but serious. You may also have a fever and vomiting, but this does not always happen.

What might help

Tell your doctor immediately if you develop a rash, as it could become life threatening. They’ll likely recommend that you stop taking Provigil and will determine the best treatment for your rash.

Severe mental health effects

Multiple mental health side effects have been reported in Provigil studies. Some are more mild, such as anxiety, nervousness, confusion, or depression. But left untreated, these conditions can become severe.

Other, more severe mental health side effects are less common, such as suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, delusions, aggression, and mania. These may be more likely to occur in people who have a history of mental health conditions.

What might help

Tell your doctor if you experience any mental health side effects, especially if they become bothersome or severe. They’ll decide the best treatment for your condition and whether it is safe for you to keep taking Provigil.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Provigil can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin (usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet)
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to Provigil, they’ll advise whether you should continue taking it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Provigil, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Provigil treatment, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking a new drug or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon you had the side effect after starting that dose
  • what your symptoms were
  • how your symptoms affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Taking notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Provigil affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Provigil may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Provigil is a good treatment option for you. Talk with your doctor about your health history before starting this drug. Factors to consider include those described below.

Cardiovascular disease. If you have heart disease, you may have an increased risk of heart-related side effects. Due to this risk, your doctor will likely not prescribe Provigil for you.

Allergic reaction. Allergic reactions, including angioedema (swelling of the face, eyes, lips, or tongue) and reactions that can affect multiple organs, have been reported in people taking Provigil. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Provigil or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe it for you. Ask them about other medications that might be better options.

Mental health conditions. If you have certain mental health conditions, you may have an increased risk of severe mental health side effects from Provigil. Due to this risk, your doctor may decide on a different treatment option for your condition.

Alcohol and Provigil

You should not take Provigil with alcohol because the combination has not been studied and it’s not known whether it’s safe. If you drink, talk with your doctor about how much (if any) alcohol is safe for you to consume while taking Provigil.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Provigil

Your doctor will likely recommend that you not take Provigil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. There is potential risk to the child if you take Provigil during these times.

There have not been enough studies done in humans to know how this drug might affect a fetus. Slowed fetal growth and pregnancy loss have occurred in pregnant people who took Provigil, but it’s not clear whether Provigil was the cause. Ask your doctor about other treatments that might be better options for you.

If you do take this drug during pregnancy, you are encouraged to enroll in the Provigil pregnancy registry. A registry collects information about people who take certain drugs during pregnancy and the health outcomes for their children. Call 866-404-4106 or talk with your doctor to get registered.

Provigil is a stimulant. Taking too much or taking it in ways not prescribed may cause serious changes in thinking, feelings, perception, and mood. These changes may feel positive, such as increased confidence or focus or a feeling of euphoria. This is why Provigil may be misused. (With misuse, a person takes a drug in a way or for a reason other than how or why it was prescribed.)

Due to this risk, doctors will likely not prescribe Provigil to people with a history of drug or alcohol misuse.

Provigil has several common and mild side effects and a few rare but serious side effects. If you have questions about side effects this drug can cause, talk with your doctor. Examples of questions to help get you started include:

  • Do I have a higher risk of some side effects than others?
  • Will I have more side effects with a higher dose?
  • How do the side effects of Provigil compare with other drugs used to treat my condition?

To learn more about Provigil, see these articles:

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.