ADHD Treatment: Ritalin Side Effects

Published: 02nd August 2007
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Ritalin is a drug commonly prescribed many doctors to treat patients with ADHD symptoms. However, Ritalin has also been used illegally for many years and it has been proven to be addictive and harmful to some extent.

Whilst the drug can help to manage ADHD symptoms, it is not without side effects. There are serious and common side effects associated with the use of Ritalin. The most serious complaints seem to be quickening of the heart rate and mood changes. Some children tend to experience worse moods when they take the drug and that can lead to more aggressive behaviour than usual. However, more worryingly is the fact that the drug can cause changes in the blood glucose level. This is obviously more serious for those who have diabetes, but it can also cause serious health problems if it goes unnoticed.

Another potential serious side effect could be tics. This is where the child will move suddenly for no apparent reason. It could be their arm that moves, or their head. Either way, tics can be worrying and it is important to take your child to the doctor straight away if you do notice anything strange. Less common side effects include headaches and insomnia. You should be on the lookout for any ill effects whilst your child is on Ritalin.

The above are just a few of the side effects experienced by some children who take Ritalin. However, they seem to be mainly down to physicians not giving the correct doses. It is also important that you do not give the next dose of medication to your child if you suspect that the medication is doing them harm. It is much better to consult with the doctor so he can prescribe a lower dosage or alternative ADHD medications.

The main concern which many parents have over Ritalin is the likelihood of it causing permanent damage to their child. A recent study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City looked into the effects that Ritalin has on the developing brain. The study was conducted using rats to test the effects of Ritalin. It was found that Ritalin caused brain alterations, but these gradually disappeared 3 months after the rats stopped taking the drug. Since the study was only conducted for a short period, the long term effects of Ritalin are still unknown. Dr. Teresa Milner, professor of neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College, warns of the possibility that the drug could cause permanent changes to brain chemistry and behaviour if taken for long periods of time. Ritalin is best used in the short term supplemented with behavioural therapy.

Of course more studies need to be done and parents do have a right to be concerned as even the FDA has directed the manufacturers of Ritalin and other ADHD drugs to provide a Patient Medication Guide that fully warns patients about their potential dangers of psychiatric and cardiovascular reactions.


The side effects of Ritalin and other ADHD drug medications can be serious and unpleasant. The long term implications of taking any ADHD medication remain a great concern for many parents. Check out the all natural and drug free treatments for ADHD at

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