Ritalin Side Effects

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Ritalin side effects are like that of any other stimulant drug. All medications have side effects, both positive and negative, and Ritalin is no exception.

Common Ritalin effects include decreased appetite, irritability, and insomnia. These are common to anyone who has ever consumed too many cups of coffee.

What Is Ritalin?

Ritalin (Generic name: Methylphenidate) is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADD or ADHD. It works by interacting with the chemicals in the brain that contribute to inattention, impulse control and hyperactivity.

Ritalin Side Effects

Decreased Appetite

This is one of the most common side effects of ritalin. If it continues to be problematic, dosages and medication times can be adjusted. Often a large breakfast, small lunch and large supper can do the trick. Or a late evening snack can also help.


Rebound is a rather common among Ritalin effects. Rebound is the phenomenon where some experience irritability or depression for an hour as the drug wears off. One can avoid rebound by spacing the doses closer together, giving a smaller dose after the final larger dose, or by switching to a longer acting stimulant.

Recently several new long-acting stimulant preparations have been released. Although the long-acting compounds often have less rebound, it may still occur in susceptible individuals.

The "Jitters"

Ever consumed too much caffeine? Like all stimulants, Ritalin produces the jitters and the shakes, ie. shaky hands. To avoid this try eliminating all caffeine and other stimulants. A small dose of a beta-blocker (a type of blood pressure medication) can block tremors, shakes and jitters. Be sure to eat regular meals and ingest some food.

ritalin side effects

Upset Stomach

Another common side effect of any stimulant. Take the medication with meals or eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Sleep Disturbances

Sometimes sleep disturbances are due to ADHD, not the medication. Therefore, it is a good idea to take a sleep history before starting taking any stimulants. If sleep disturbances are due to the medication, there are several options such as adjusting dosages and medication times.


Irritability may be due to ADHD but if it is due to the medication the dosage may be altered or another ADHD medication could be substituted. Any extreme irritability, mood swings, or mood disturbances should be reported to your prescribing doctor. 

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