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A.D.D. / A.D.H.D. Medication

Here is a brief overview of the most common medications used in the UK for the treatment of ADHD. We do not endorse any of the following but do recognise the need for a description of these medications to enable those who have been diagnosed to make informed choices in the treatment they or their child receives.The following is a brief overview of the most common medications used in the UK for the treatment of ADHD. We do not endorse any of the following but do recognise the need for a description of these medications to enable those who have been diagnosed to make informed choices in the treatment they or their child receives.

For more information and also for details on other medications available outside the UK we recommend the Medication List on Taming The Triad by Margie Sweeney M.D. Also, check out the ADD/ADHD section on the popular Remedyfind website where real users have rated many of the medications and treatments available.

Please note that the following is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is only intended as a guide, purely for information only. Any medication or alteration of current medications should be discussed fully with your physician or other medical professional.

Methylphenidate

This is the generic name for one of the most common medications for ADHD - there are a number of brand names which are detailed below.

Cautions: mild hypertension (contra-indicated if moderate or severe)-monitor blood pressure; history of epilepsy (discontinue if convulsions occur); tics and Tourette syndrome (use with caution)-discontinue if tics occur; monitor growth in children (see also below); avoid abrupt withdrawal; data on safety and efficacy of long-term use not complete.

SPECIAL CAUTIONS IN CHILDREN: Monitor height and weight as growth retardation may occur during prolonged therapy (drug free periods may allow catch-up in growth but withdraw slowly to avoid inducing depression or renewed hyperactivity). In psychotic children may exacerbate behavioural disturbances and thought disorder.

Contra-indications: cardiovascular disease including moderate to severe hypertension, hyperexcitability or agitated states, hyperthyroidism, history of drug or alcohol abuse, glaucoma, pregnancy and breast-feeding - DRIVING. May affect performance of skilled tasks (e.g. driving); effects of alcohol unpredictable.

EVENING DOSE. If effect wears off in evening (with rebound hyperactivity) a dose at bedtime may be appropriate (establish need with trial bedtime dose)

Over the years I have been asked a number of questions as to how the fast acting forms of Methylphenidate and the slow release forms work and roughly what is equal to what.

I am certainly not medically qualifed so please remember that these are very rough ideas which I have learnt and how I view things over the years!!

Ritalin - Methylphenidate

This is licensed in the UK for the treatment of children - however Ritalin can be prescribed for adults, as it does not have a licence for adults it can only be prescribed through the individual doctors clinical judgement.

Ritalin is one of the stimulant drugs and is a derivative of amphetamine - when used correctly it is safe and effective.

Ritalin reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness and increases the attention span.

It is a fast absorbing medication and is usually absorbed within ½ hour reaching maximum effectiveness within 1 - 2 hours after 4 - 5 hours it has passed through the system.

There is no evidence that Ritalin can become addictive or the patient become dependant.

Side effects can include:

Insomnia, loss of appetite

Both of which usually return to normal within a short time but proper monitoring by a qualified ADHD aware doctor is essential

Less common side effects can include:-

Tics, irritability, depression, tummy aches, headaches, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth and constipation.

These are mainly seen at higher doses and are not always attributed to the Ritalin. They should therefore be discussed with the doctor.

There is no evidence to suggest that Ritalin free holidays are necessary and certainly the idea of only using in school time is unnecessary.

Ritalin releases dopamine from the storage vessels.


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Last Updated: 11 February 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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