Sleep Home > Methylphenidate Side Effects

Nervousness, loss of appetite, and headache are some of the more common adverse effects seen with methylphenidate. Side effects that are less common include hair loss, changes in liver function, or anemia. While most side effects of methylphenidate are minor and do not require medical attention, certain problems may be more serious and should be reported to your healthcare provider, such as depression, seizures, and chest pain.

An Introduction to Methylphenidate Side Effects

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin®). However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor, meaning they require no treatment or are easily treated by your or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with methylphenidate. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of methylphenidate side effects with you.)

Serious Side Effects With Methylphenidate

Serious methylphenidate side effects, while occurring infrequently, are potentially serious and should be reported to your healthcare provider right away. These include:
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Chest tightness, chest pain, or heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression (see Ritalin and Depression)
  • More outgoing or aggressive behavior than normal
  • Signs of Raynaud's disease, such as cold and numb fingers and toes
  • Abnormally long-lasting or frequent painful erections of the penis in males of any age
  • Strange behavior
  • Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not really there)
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrolled movements of the head, neck, mouth, arms, or legs (known as tics)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • Unexplained skin rash
    • Itching
    • Hives
    • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
    • Unexplained swelling.


Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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