Methylphenidate, is probably more familiar to most by one of its brand names – Ritalin. It is a drug that is commonly prescribed, by psychiatrists, for ADHD, and can also be offered to those with narcolepsy (a sleep disorder).

Methylphenidate is a stimulant, hence it is a controlled drug, requiring proof of identify on collection. In the wrong hands, this drug has very different outcomes to those intended for ADHDers!

Whilst ADHD comes across as making many of us appear hyperactive to others, internally, our processing speed is actually slower than neurotypical people’s, so our neurology means that time feels that it moves more slowly, despite all appearances to the contrary… Hence we get bored more easily, because what feels like five minutes to non-ADHDers can feel like an hour to us! This is also connected to the term time blindness – where we frequently ‘lose time’ – having little or no concept of how much time is passing; it all comes back to processing speed. Click here → for a short article that explains these concepts very neatly.

The aim of drugs like Ritalin is to increase our processing speed so that we start to experience time more typically to others. The consequence of speeding up our inner clock is that we are able to gain focus and reduce our internal chaos and, hopefully, our external chaos!

It would probably be really useful to read the glossary entry about the role our lack of the chemical dopamine has on us ADHDers. It forms a really crucial aspect of understanding why we are as we are.

This drug can be prescribed to children over 4 too, in smaller doses. For adults, the drug can be given in quick or slow release form, depending on what is considered most suitable for that person – the beneficial dosage varies between individuals, so it is carefully monitored, particularly to start with. It doesn’t suit everyone – some people try it and don’t get on with it and others are not suited to it for pre-existing health conditions. I, for instance, am unlikely to be given it because of my increased risk of glaucoma. High blood pressure, epilepsy and mental health problems, amongst others, also affect the suitability of this particular drug.

Methylphenidate is best taken in the day time as it is known to affect sleep – for obvious reasons. Other side effects can include nausea, decreased appetite (it is sometimes prescribed for obesity), tic disorder and irritability. It can also create dependency but it has given much more fulfilling lives, with decreased low mood, for millions of people over the years.

Here’s a very recent article that describes the processes that are happening in the ADHD brain and weighs up the pros and cons of medication versus other therapies → click here.

Anecdotally, some have told me that they stopped taking it because they felt the side effects outweighed the benefits. Interestingly, one person said to me that they felt their ADHD is an integral part of their personality and they didn’t like the change in themselves, though they agreed that it really did help with focus.

I would love to hear of your experiences of it, so that I can share them (anonymously) on here – to give a less clinical view. Please contact me via the Share page if you’d like to do so. Thank you.