Generic name: Methylphenidate hydrochloride.

Other brand name: Ritalin-SR.

Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant. It simultaneously increases mental alertness and decreases fatigue.

Quick Facts About Ritalin


Used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children, with such symptoms as: continual problems with moderate to severe distractibility, short attention span, hyperactivity, emotional changeability, and impulsiveness. Also used to treat narcolepsy in adults.

Ritalin Dosage

Take exactly as prescribed. Should take 30 to 45 minutes prior to meals. If Ritalin causes sleep problems, give last dose to child before 6 pm. Never chew or crush tablets; swallow whole. Treatment program should include psychological, educational, and social elements.

  • Usual adult dose: tablets — 20 to 30 milligrams per day taken in 2 or 3 doses. SR tablets — work for 8 hours, may be substituted for tablets if dosage is comparable.
  • Usual child dose: tablets — 5 milligrams taken 2 times per day before breakfast and lunch; increased by doctor 5 to 10 milligrams per week, up to 60 milligrams. SR tablets — check with doctor to see if they can be substituted for tablets. If no benefits are observed in 1 month, doctor may discontinue Ritalin. Not prescribed for children under 6 years.
  • Missed dose: give to child as soon as possible. Give remainder of doses at regularly spaced intervals for the day. Do not double doses.

Ritalin Side Effects

Overdose symptoms:

agitation, confusion, convulsions possibly followed by coma, delirium, drying of mucous membranes, enlarging of pupil of the eye. exaggerated elation, extremely high body temperature, flushing, hallucinations, headache, high blood pressure, irregular or rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching, sweating, tremors, vomiting. If you suspect an overdose, immediately seek medical attention.

More common side effects: inability to fall or asleep; nervousness — doctor’s reducing dose usually prevents these side effects. Other more commor side effects (in children): loss of appetite, abdomina pain, weight loss with long-term therapy, inability to fall or stay asleep, abnormally fast heartbeat.

Less common or rare Ritalin side effects: abdominal pain, abnormal heartbeat, abnormal muscular movements, blood pressure changes, chest pain, dizziness, drowsiness, fever, headache, hives, jerking, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea, palpitations, pulse changes, rapid heartbeat, reddish or purplish skin spots, skin reddening, skin inflammation with peeling, skin rash, Tourette’s syndrome, weight loss during long-term treatment.


Inform your doctor before combining Ritalin with:

anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital, Dilantin, and Mysoline; antidepressants such as Tofranil, Anafranil, and Norpramin: blood thinners such as Coumadin; EpiPen; guanethidine (Ismelin); MAO inhibitors such as Nardil and Parnate; phenylbutazone (Butazolidin).

No known food/other substance interactions.

Special Cautions

If pregnant or planning to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Not known if Ritalin appears in breast milk.

No special precautions apply to seniors.

Not prescribed for children under 6 years. Long term use may suppress growth.

  • Doctor will perform complete history before prescribing Ritalin.
  • May develop addiction or tolerance to this medication; changes to dose should be regulated by your doctor.
  • Should not take if you have: anxiety; agitation; glaucoma; seizure disorder; tension; tics; or a family history of Tourette’s syndrome; or if you are sensitive to or allergic to Ritalin.
  • Not used to treat stress or psychiatric disorders in children, or normal fatigue or treatment of severe depression.
  • If you have high blood pressure, should be monitored during Ritalin therapy.
  • May experience visual disturbances.


HealthSurvey.org provides accurate and independent information prescription pills, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have questions about  dosage, or Ritalin side effects, please contact your healthcare provider