Sleep Home > Methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is commonly prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When treating narcolepsy, the medication acts as a stimulant to keep people alert and awake, but it can also affect certain chemicals in the brain to produce a calming effect in children with ADHD. Potential side effects of methylphenidate include headache, drowsiness, and loss of appetite.

What Is Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin®) is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat narcolepsy.
 
Because the drug is a stimulant and is commonly abused, there are special rules for prescribing it (see Ritalin Abuse and Ritalin: A Controlled Substance for more information).
 

Who Makes It?

Methylphenidate is manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Generic versions are made by several different manufacturers.
 

What Is Methylphenidate Used For?

As mentioned, methylphenidate is licensed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD for short. In addition to hyperactivity (having trouble sitting still), people with ADHD have problems paying attention, focusing, and controlling their behavior. While most people think of it as a problem in children, ADHD can also occur in adults (see Adult ADHD). However, methylphenidate is not approved for use in adult ADHD (see Ritalin for Adults).
 
This medication is also licensed for the treatment of narcolepsy. This is a condition that involves falling asleep uncontrollably and at unusual times. People who have symptoms of narcolepsy often appear paralyzed when they are asleep and have hallucinations when falling asleep. In addition, people with the condition often fall asleep several times during the day.
 
(Click Methylphenidate Uses for more information on specific uses, including possible off-label uses.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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