Methylphenidate is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin-SR) is also used to treat narcolepsy (uncontrolled desire for, or attacks of, sleep). Methylphenidate is in a class of medications called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. It works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain.
Methylphenidate comes as a tablet, an extended- or sustained-release (long-acting) tablet, and an extended-release capsule to take by mouth. The regular tablet and the extended-release tablet (Metadate ER, Methylin ER, Ritalin-SR) are usually taken two or three times a day, preferably 30-45 minutes before meals. The last dose of the day should be taken at least several hours before bedtime because the drug can cause sleeplessness. The extended-release tablet (Concerta) usually is taken once a day, in the morning, with or without food. The extended-release capsule usually is taken once a day, in the morning, before breakfast.
Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take methylphenidate exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the extended-release tablets and capsules whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
Your doctor may start you on a low dose of methylphenidate and gradually increase your dose.
Continue to take methylphenidate even if you feel well. Do not stop taking methylphenidate without talking to your doctor, especially if you have taken large doses for a long time. Your doctor probably will decrease your dose gradually. This drug must be taken regularly for a few weeks before its full effect is felt.
Methylphenidate also is used sometimes to treat depression in elderly patients and in patients who have cancer, brain injury, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or have had a stroke. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Medications - ADD/ADHD Medications
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