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Ritalin Defined

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is classified as a central nervous system stimulant. It is used to treat ADD, ADHD, and in the treatment of narcolepsy, a serious sleep disorder that is characterized by an uncontrollable desire to sleep.

It is not fully understood how Ritalin works, but the result of its use in the treatment of ADD/ADHD can be dramatic. An observable decrease in motor activity and restlessness occurs within 30 to 60 minutes of administration. Mental alertness and the ability to remain on-task are also markedly improved in most people. The ability to concentrate can be greatly improved. These effects can last as long as 4 hours per dosage, though there are time-release alternatives that can last up to 8 hours. Ultimately school and work performance can be enhanced.

Contraindications of Ritalin use include: psychosis, suicidal or homicidal ideation, glaucoma, motor tics, hyperthyroidism, pregnancy and hypersensitivity to methyphenidate. Methyphenidate should also be used with extreme caution in persons with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, seizure disorders, and in elderly people.

Side effects of Ritalin use can include restlessness, tremor, and increase in motor activity and an inability to sleep. The person may also experience a dramatic decrease in appetite and weight loss. Changes in heart rhythm may be experienced as "fluttering" heart beats or the heart "skipping beats". If these changes occur, a medical doctor should be contacted as soon as possible.

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