In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for methylphenidate, trade name RitalinTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Methylphenidate is used in adults and children greater than 6 years of age to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Methylphenidate is used along with counseling to help create a complete patient treatment plan. This medication works in your brain.

Methylphenidate may help you stay focused on tasks while also helping behavior. This medication may also help you stay organized and listen better.

In adults, methylphenidate is also used to treat a sleeping disorder called narcolepsy. Do not use this just to treat tiredness.

Methylphenidate is usually taken first thing in the morning. If your doctor wants you to take other doses during the day, take them at least 4-6 hours apart. If this medication upsets your stomach or decreases your appetite, take it after a meal or a snack. Do not take this medication within 6 hours of bedtime because it may keep you awake.

Your dose is based on your condition and response to treatment. Your doctor may increase your dose over a couple weeks or months. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.

If you have taken this medication for a long time, you may notice that it doesn’t seem to work as well. Contact your doctor to discuss the options. Your doctor may stop your medication for a short time to see if you still need it.

If you have taken this medication for a long time or in a high dose, do not stop taking it all at once because it may cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as mood changes with depression or suicidal thoughts. Your doctor may have you decrease your dose of methylphenidate over a couple weeks or months.

Most Important Warnings

  • Misuse or abuse of methylphenidate can result in serious heart and blood pressure problems.
  • This medication may be habit-forming and should be used cautiously in anyone with a history of alcohol/drug abuse or mental/mood disorder.
  • Long-term use can lead to tolerance and mental dependence, and psychotic episodes can occur.
  • Follow-up by your doctor is required during withdrawal; severe depression may occur. Withdrawal after long-term use may reveal other problems that may require follow-up.
  • Talk with your doctor about checking your heartbeat and blood pressure when you start this medication.

Other Warnings & Cautions

  • Rarely, this medication may cause drug seeking or addictive behavior. This risk is increased if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse. If you follow the directions on the label and stay in good communication with your doctor and pharmacist, then the chances for addiction are lower.
  • If a child uses methylphenidate for a long time, it is possible that their growth rate, weight, and future adult height may be affected. Your child’s doctor may stop the medication now and again for short periods of time to reduce this risk. If your child is taking this medication, talk about this with your doctor and monitor your child’s height and weight.
  • Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Limit alcoholic beverages while taking methylphenidate.
  • Infants born to mothers who are taking methylphenidate are at risk. This medication should only be used during pregnancy when the benefit to the mother is greater than the risk to the unborn baby.
  • Methylphenidate passes into breast milk. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if methylphenidate is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, glaucoma, mental condition, or muscle spasms.
  • While taking methylphenidate, you may feel nervous, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, dizziness or nausea. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any strange heartbeats, large mood changes, uncontrolled muscle movements or fainting.
  • Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20