Ritalin ®

Generic Name: Methylphenidate (meth-il-FEN-i-dayt)

Drug Class: Amphetamine-like Drugs


Drug Uses

This medicine is used to treat narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders of childhood also known as hyperactive child syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe this medicine for other conditions as well.

General Information

This medicine should not be taken together with ma huang.

How it Works

This medicine increases the amount of a chemical in your brain (Dopamine). It also stimulates the cortex similar to amphetamines.

How to Take It

Follow the directions that your doctor has given you. This medicine is taken orally and may be taken with or without food. Do not abruptly stop taking this medicine before talking to your doctor. Do not break, crush or chew sustained-release forms. This medicine may cause a patient to have difficulty sleeping. It is recommended that this medicine be taken several hours before going to sleep or in the morning. Talk to your doctor about the best time to take this medicine.

Possible Side Effects

    • nervousness, fast heart beat, excitement
    • insomnia
    • reduced appetite
    • More severe side effects may include:
    • growth suppression in children
    • chest pain
    • seizures or involuntary movements
    • If you experience any of these severe side effects, talk to you doctor immediately.


    • Talk to your doctor before taking this medicine if you have a history of:
    • high blood pressure
    • seizures
    • or substance abuse issues
    • Do NOT take this medicine if you have severe depression.
    • Methylphenidate should NOT be used in patients with Tourette’s syndrome or patients with a family history of this condition.


    • Seek medical attention immediately. For non emergencies, contact your local or regional poison control center.

Drug Interactions

    • Do not take this medicine if you have taken MAO inhibitors within the last 14 days. This medicine may increase the toxic effects of tricyclic antidepressants (Elavil, Pamelor), phenytoin (Dilantin), warfarin (Coumadin), phenobarbital, or primidone. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Missed Dose

Take your next dose as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Do not double doses.


Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed.


If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks versus the benefits of taking this medicine during your pregnancy. For nursing mothers, do not take this medicine while breast feeding.

More Information

For more information, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or health care provider.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 May 2015
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.