Ritalin (Methylphenidate) - Oral

Warning:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assigned a black box warning to Ritalin (methylphenidate) for its risk for substance use disorder (SUD). Notify your healthcare provider if you or your loved ones notice SUD-like symptoms of abnormal changes in mood or behavior. Another potential symptom of SUD is a decline in performance at school, work, or at home.

What Is Ritalin?

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a controlled prescription medication commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is a brain stimulant. It's thought to work by influencing the amount of naturally occurring chemicals in your brain.

Ritalin is available in an immediate-release (IR) tablet dosage form. Methylphenidate also goes by many other brand names available in different dosage forms. Some of the other dosage forms are:

  • IR chewable tablets
  • IR solution (liquid)
  • Patch
  • Timed-release chewable tablets
  • TImed-release orally disintegrating (easily dissolvable) tablets
  • Timed-release suspension (liquid)
  • Various versions of timed-release tablets
  • Various versions of timed-release capsules

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Methylphenidate

Brand Name(s): Ritalin

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Brain stimulant

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: Schedule II

Administration Route: Ritalin is an oral (by mouth) dosage form.

Active Ingredient: Methylphenidate

Dosage Form(s): Ritalin is available as tablets.

What Is Ritalin Used For?

Ritalin has been used to treat narcolepsy. It's also used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in people six years and older.

It's estimated that nearly 9% of children in the 4- to 17-year-old age group have ADHD in the United States. This condition also affects roughly 4% of adults between 18 and 44.

ADHD symptoms can be divided into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (trouble with impulse control). People with ADHD tend frequently show symptoms for longer than six months.

Symptoms of inattention may include being easily distracted or bored and having difficulty finishing one task. On the other hand, hyperactivity symptoms may consist of nonstop talking and restlessness. If you have trouble controlling your impulses, symptoms may include impatience and interrupting other people.

How to Take Ritalin

Take Ritalin by mouth two to three times daily before some food or a meal. If you have trouble sleeping with Ritalin, take the last dose of the day before 5 p.m.

Storage

After receiving Ritalin from the pharmacy, keep the medication at room temperature between 68 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit—with a safe short-term storage range of 59 degrees to 86 degrees F.

Protect Ritalin from light. Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet.

Avoid pouring unused and expired drugs down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medications. You can also find disposal boxes in your area. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications.

If you plan to travel with your Ritalin, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. Checking with the U.S. embassy or consulate might be a helpful resource. In general, however, make a copy of your Ritalin prescription. It's also a good idea to keep your medication in its original container from your pharmacy with your name on the label. Since Ritalin is a controlled substance, you may also want to ask your healthcare provider for a document of medical necessity on a letter with an official letterhead. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about traveling with your medicine.

How Long Does Ritalin Take to Work?

You may notice some symptoms improve within a few days of taking Ritalin (methylphenidate). Ritalin, however, might require several weeks for maximum effectiveness.

Off-Label Uses

Healthcare providers may prescribe methylphenidate for the following off-label uses:

Severe fatigue in cancer or palliative care settings: Some small studies suggest that people with cancer or other terminal conditions might experience less fatigue (excessive tiredness) from methylphenidate. Experts also support using methylphenidate for severe fatigue in people with advanced cancer or those actively undergoing cancer treatments.

Depression in older adults: A 2012 study and healthcare provider experiences suggest that methylphenidate might improve depression symptoms for older adults in hospice with a terminal condition or receiving palliative care. A small 2015 study also indicates that adding methylphenidate to an antidepressant might quickly improve depression symptoms in older adults.

What Are the Side Effects of Ritalin?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of Ritalin may include:

Severe Side Effects

Get medical help right away if you experience the following serious side effects:

Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to Ritalin, symptoms may include breathing difficulties, itchiness, and swelling.

Cardiovascular (CV) events: Ritalin might raise your risk of CV events, such as heart attacks and strokes. There have also been reports of death from sudden cardiac arrest (the heart suddenly stops beating) in children and adults.

CV events are more likely in people with heart-related conditions, such as abnormal heart rhythm and abnormal heart structure (e.g., problems with your heart valves). Other conditions include coronary artery disease (cholesterol build-up in oxygen-rich blood vessels of the heart) and cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease that makes the heart work too hard).

Be on the lookout for symptoms of chest pain, dizziness or fainting spells, and abnormal heart rhythm.

Delayed growth: Ritalin may affect your child's growth and weight gain. Regularly monitor your child's height and weight.

High blood pressure and fast heart rate: Ritalin may increase your or your child's blood pressure and heart rate. Consider routinely monitoring your or your child's blood pressure and heart rate.

Mood-related effects: If you have a mental health condition, you might experience psychosis (e.g., hallucinations, delusions) with Ritalin. If you have inadequately treated bipolar, Ritalin might lead to mania symptoms. There's also a chance that psychosis and mania symptoms might happen in some people without a history of a mental health condition.

Peripheral vasculopathy: Ritalin is linked to peripheral vasculopathy. This means that people taking Ritalin might experience blood vessel problems, such as Raynaud's syndrome. In Raynaud's, blood vessels in certain areas of your body tighten in response to triggers, such as cold weather or emotional stress. This results in less blood flow to those areas, such as your fingers or toes, making them appear blue. Once blood flow returns, your fingers and toes look very red.

Priapism is a prolonged and painful erection. This can happen in children or adults, especially during increases in your Ritalin dose.

Substance use disorder (SUD): Ritalin raises your risk for SUD. SUD-like symptoms may include abnormal mood or behavioral changes.

Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening.

Long-Term Side Effects

Ritalin's long-term side effects are very similar to its severe side effects, which may include the following:

  • Cardiovascular (CV) events, such as heart attacks and strokes
  • Blood vessels problems—like Reynaud's syndrome—may happen at any time during your Ritalin treatment
  • Delayed growth and weight gain effects that your child may or may not make back up
  • Prolonged and painful erections that may occur after taking Ritalin for a while or after stopping the medication
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)

Report Side Effects

Ritalin may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Ritalin Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):
    • For short-acting oral dosage forms (chewable tablets or solution):
      • Adults—Administer 2 or 3 times a day and take 30 to 45 minutes before meals. The average dose is 20 to 30 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children 6 years of age and older—At first, 5 mg 2 times a day, taken before breakfast and lunch. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For short-acting oral dosage form (tablets):
      • Adults—20 to 30 milligrams (mg) given in divided doses 2 or 3 times a day, taken 30 to 45 minutes before meals. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children 6 years of age and older—At first, 5 mg 2 times a day, taken before breakfast and lunch. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For long-acting oral dosage form (extended-release capsules):
      • Patients who have not been treated with methylphenidate:
        • Adhansia XR®:
          • Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, 25 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 100 mg per day for adults and 85 mg for children.
          • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
        • Aptensio XR™, Metadate CD®, Ritalin LA®:
          • Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, 10 to 20 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
          • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
      • Patients who are already taking methylphenidate:
        • Adults and children 6 to 12 years of age—10 to 60 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
        • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For long-acting oral dosage form (extended-release suspension):
      • Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, 20 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For long-acting oral dosage form (extended-release chewable tablets):
      • Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, 20 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For long-acting oral dosage form (extended-release disintegrating tablets):
      • Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, 17.3 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 51.8 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For long-acting oral dosage form (extended-release tablets):
      • For patients who have not been treated with Concerta®:
        • Adults—At first, 18 to 36 milligrams (mg) once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 72 mg per day.
        • Teenagers 13 to 17 years of age—At first, 18 mg once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 72 mg per day.
        • Children 6 to 12 years of age—At first, 18 mg once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 54 mg per day.
        • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
      • For patients already using Concerta®:
        • Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, 18 to 72 milligrams (mg) once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 72 mg per day.
        • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For narcolepsy:
    • For short-acting oral dosage forms (chewable tablets or solution):
      • Adults—Administer 2 or 3 times a day and take 30 to 45 minutes before meals. Average dose is 20 to 30 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children 6 years of age and older—At first, 5 mg 2 times a day, taken before breakfast and lunch. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.
    • For short-acting oral dosage form (tablets):
      • Adults—20 to 30 milligrams (mg) given in divided doses 2 or 3 times a day, taken 30 to 45 minutes before meals (breakfast and lunch). Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children 6 years of age and older—At first, 5 mg 2 times a day, taken before breakfast and lunch. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 60 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Ritalin (methylphenidate):

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using Ritalin if you have a known allergy to it or its ingredients. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: In animal studies, very high doses of methylphenidate in rabbits did result in spina bifida. Otherwise, high doses in rabbits and rats weren't linked to other adverse effects, except for low fetal and newborn body weight.

In humans, there haven't been reports of adverse effects with methylphenidate during pregnancy. However, pregnant people dependent on amphetamine (another brain stimulant—like Adderall for ADHD) might experience premature delivery. Their newborns might also have a low birth weight.

Discuss with your healthcare provider if you plan to become pregnant or are pregnant. They will help you weigh the benefits and risks of Ritalin during your pregnancy. They can also help you enroll through the National Pregnancy Registry for ADHD Medications website or by phone at 1-866-961-2388.

Breastfeeding: Methylphenidate is present in human breast milk but in low amounts. Data suggests that it's not detectable in the bloodstream of nursing babies. Based on currently available information, methylphenidate isn't linked to adverse effects on nursing infants, so there's usually no need to stop methylphenidate while breastfeeding.

To be safe, however, monitor your child for symptoms of agitation, sleeping problems, feeding problems, and slow weight gain. If you're experiencing issues with making breast milk, you're likely taking high doses of methylphenidate—especially when breastfeeding isn't well established with the nursing baby.

If you plan to breastfeed, talk with your healthcare provider to weigh the benefits and risks of methylphenidate while nursing. They can also discuss the different ways available to feed your baby.

Older adults over 65: There is not enough information about Ritalin in older adults to see whether they respond differently than younger adults. Older adults with several medical conditions or taking several medications should use caution. Older adults may be more sensitive to side effects from medications.

Children: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ritalin for people six years and older. Since children might experience delayed growth from Ritalin, your child's healthcare provider will closely monitor their height and weight.There is also a risk of heart issues and an abnormal heartbeat from using Ritalin. Ask your child's healthcare provider also closely to monitor their heart health.

Mental health conditions: If you have a mental health condition, you might experience psychosis with Ritalin. If you have inadequately treated bipolar, Ritalin might also lead to mania symptoms, so your healthcare provider may closely monitor you for symptoms of psychosis and mania. They may also assess if you have bipolar. If you have bipolar, they may want to ensure that you're receiving adequate treatment before starting you on Ritalin.

Missed Dose

If you're taking Ritalin on a schedule, take this medication as your healthcare provider recommended. If you accidentally forgot your Ritalin dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it's already close to your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the following dose at your next scheduled dosing time. Don't try to double up to make up for the missed dose.

For a missed dose that's your last dose for the day, your healthcare provider might recommend skipping it if it's already after 5 p.m. to prevent sleeping problems. Then you can continue your regular dosing schedule the following day.

Find ways to help yourself remember to keep your appointments and take your medication routinely. If you miss too many doses, Ritalin might be less effective.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Ritalin?

The symptoms of a suspected overdose of Ritalin include:

If you think you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What Happens If I Overdose on Ritalin?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Ritalin, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Ritalin, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.

You or your child will also need to have your blood pressure and heart rate measured before starting this medicine and while you are using it. If you notice any change in your blood pressure, call your doctor right away. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor.

You or your child should not use this medicine if you are using or have used a drug for depression, called an MAO inhibitor (MAOI), such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate®, within the past 14 days.

Methylphenidate may cause dizziness, drowsiness, or changes in vision. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Methylphenidate may cause serious heart or blood vessel problems. This may be more likely in patients who have a family history of heart disease. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child has chest pain, trouble breathing, fainting, or a fast, irregular heartbeat while using this medicine.

Tell your doctor right away if you or your family notice any unusual changes in behavior, including an increase in aggression, hostility, agitation, irritability, or suicidal thinking or behaviors. Also tell your doctor if you feel, see, or hear things that are not there, or have any unusual thoughts, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.

This medicine may cause slow growth and weight loss. If your child is using this medicine, the doctor will need to keep track of his height and weight to make sure that he is growing properly.

Methylphenidate may cause a condition called Raynaud's phenomenon. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child has tingling or pain in the fingers or toes when exposed to cold temperatures, paleness or a cold feeling in the fingertips and toes, or a skin color change in your fingers.

Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using Metadate CD® Ritalin® Ritalin LA® , or Ritalin-SR® . You may need to stop using this medicine before you have surgery.

Avoid drinking alcohol while using Concerta®, Cotempla XR-ODT™ extended release disintegrating tablets, Adhansia XR®, Aptensio XR™, Metadate CD®, or Ritalin LA® extended-release capsules, Quillichew ER™ extended-release chewable tablets, or Quillivant® XR extended-release suspension.

If you or your child experience a prolonged or painful erection of the penis for more than 4 hours, check with your doctor right away.

Adhansia XR® contains a yellow dye called tartrazine, which may cause severe allergic reactions. Tell your doctor if you have any allergies (including an aspirin allergy).

If you have been using this medicine for a long time and you think you may have become mentally or physically dependent on it, check with your doctor right away. Some signs of dependence may include:

  • A strong desire or need to continue using the medicine.
  • A need to increase the dose to receive the same effects.
  • Withdrawal effects after stopping the medicine, including irritability, anxiety, unusual tiredness or weakness, nightmares, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, increased appetite, agitation, or slowing of mental and physical activity.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines, herbal or vitamin supplements, and medicine for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hayfever, or sinus problems.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Ritalin?

  • Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to Ritalin, then this medication isn't a viable option for you.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAO-I) use: If you've taken an MAO-I, like selegiline for depression or Parkinson's disease (PD), in the last 14 days, avoid Ritalin. Combining these two medications raises your risk of excessively high blood pressure.
  • Cardiovascular (CV) events: Ritalin might raise your or your child's risk of CV events, such as heart attacks and strokes. There were also reports of death from sudden cardiac arrest in children and adults. For this reason, people with severe heart-related conditions, such as abnormal heart rhythm, abnormal heart structure (e.g., valve problems), coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), should avoid using Ritalin.
  • Pregnancy: In humans, there haven't been reports of adverse effects with methylphenidate during pregnancy. However, pregnant people dependent on amphetamine (another brain stimulant—like Adderall for ADHD) might experience premature delivery. Their newborns might also have a low birth weight. Discuss with your healthcare provider the benefits and risks of Ritalin during pregnancy. They can also help you enroll through the National Pregnancy Registry for ADHD Medications website or by phone at 1-866-961-2388.
  • Breastfeeding: Methylphenidate isn't detectable in the bloodstream of nursing babies. Based on currently available information, methylphenidate isn't linked to adverse effects on nursing infants, so there's usually no need to stop methylphenidate while breastfeeding. To be safe, however, monitor your child for symptoms of agitation, sleeping problems, feeding problems, and slow weight gain. If you're experiencing issues with making breast milk, reach out to your healthcare provider. They can also help you weigh the benefits and risks of methylphenidate while nursing.
  • Older adults over 65: There is not enough information about Ritalin in older adults to see whether they respond differently from younger adults. In general, older adults should use caution.
  • Children: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ritalin for people six years and older. Since children might experience delayed growth from Ritalin, your child's healthcare provider will closely monitor their height and weight.

What Other Medications Interact With Ritalin?

Aside from monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO-I), use caution when taking Ritalin with the following medications:

  • Blood pressure medications: Ritalin might work against your blood pressure medications. Therefore, your healthcare provider may want to monitor your blood pressure closely to adjust your medicines as needed. Examples of blood pressure medications may include lisinopril and hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ).
  • Halogenated anesthetics: In general, anesthesia helps you fall asleep or limits how much pain you feel during a medical procedure. There are different types of anesthetics. If halogenated anesthetics are used, you'll likely need to skip your Ritalin doses on the day of your procedure.
  • Risperdal (risperidone): Risperidone is an antipsychotic. When combined with Ritalin, you're more likely to experience extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), which are uncontrollable muscle movements.

Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed information about medication interactions with Ritalin.

And be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including over-the-counter nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, or plant-based medicines.

What Medications Are Similar?

There are many brain stimulants used to treat ADHD. Ritalin is an immediate-release (IR) methylphenidate tablet.

Another IR methylphenidate prescription includes Methylin. Methylin is available in a solution (liquid) dosage form, which might be convenient for children.

There's also Focalin, which is IR dexmethylphenidate. Dexmethylphenidate is very similar to methylphenidate, except dexmethylphenidate might work for more extended periods of time.

Like Ritalin, Methylin and Focalin can be used in people six years or older. They're also available as generic products.

While all these medications are brain stimulants, some people with ADHD might take multiple brain stimulants together. For example, they may take an extended-release form every morning and an immediate-release version in the afternoon as needed, based on activities. Since the best treatment plan varies person-to-person, talk with your healthcare provider to help you determine whether one or a combination of medications will be better for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is Ritalin available?

    Ritalin is available with a prescription from your healthcare provider. In some states, your healthcare provider may need to write your Ritalin prescription on a special piece of paper.

    Your local retail pharmacy will likely carry this medication. If it doesn't currently have it, it might be able to order it for you.

  • How much does Ritalin cost?

    Ritalin is available as a generic product, so this should save you money.

    If cost is a concern, some potentially helpful resources may include RxAssist, NeedyMeds, FundFinder, Simplefill, BenefitsCheckUp, Medicare Rights Center, State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs), and Rx Outreach.

  • How long do I need to take Ritalin?

    The duration of treatment varies by person. Talk with your healthcare provider. They will discuss the benefits and risks of stopping Ritalin.

  • Will I need other medications in addition to Ritalin?

    The number of medications will vary per person. Reach out to your healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan for you.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Ritalin?

Living with ADHD can sometimes be challenging. Consider working with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan for you or your child, and to make any necessary adjustments in strategies or medicines based on your symptoms and side effects. Reaching out to a counselor may help you or your child with coping strategies for ADHD symptoms.

If you or your child are coping with ADHD, additional ways to support your family include behavioral or occupational therapy for both you and your children, as well as organizational and social skills training. 

Studies have shown that biofeedback may be a viable therapy to help support the development of attention in adults and children.  This may be a useful additional tool for you or your child.

ADHD also may have roots in adverse childhood experiences. While it's not the root cause for everyone, addressing trauma with a licensed therapist may be a step in your healing process. Speak with your or your child's healthcare provider about different approaches and treatment options.

It's important to note that there are also several medical conditions that can be mistaken for ADHD, such as low iron levels (anemia) or thyroid issues like hypothyroidism. Studies also show that sleep disturbances over time may increase a child's odds of developing ADHD. Your healthcare provider can help you discuss sleep hygiene and also rule out or address any potential sleep disorders (e.g., sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome) in yourself or your child before starting the process of an ADHD diagnosis. 

Other disorders that need to be ruled out before making a clear ADHD diagnosis include anxiety, depression, learning disorders (ex., dyslexia), and vision or hearing problems. Work with your or your child's healthcare provider to help figure out and address the root cause of the issue.

Ensure that you or your child does not have a heart condition before starting stimulant medication, as this can make preexisting heart conditions worse. Ask your healthcare provider to monitor you or your child for any development of heart conditions while on this or other stimulant medications.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.