A little bit about Ritalin:
Most people know Ritalin as the drug that helps children with ADHD to increase attention, motivation and maintain alertness. It is classified as a central nervous system stimulant. In the 1950’s Ciba Pharmaceutical Company began marketing MPH (methylphenidate) as Ritalin to treat chronic fatigue, depression, psychosis associated with depression, narcolepsy, and to offset the sedating effects of other medications, strictly to adults. In 1955 is was approved by the FDA. Recently, it has been in the news for its safety among children. First, a simple explanation on how Ritalin works.
Ritalin works by affecting dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter for promoting attention and motivation/reward. Children who are classified as having ADHD tend to have a lower number of dopamine molecules. Ritalin amplifies dopamine levels in the brain by inhibiting certain dopamine transporters (molecules that move dopamine out of the brain). When a child takes Ritalin, the dopamine levels in the brain are much higher, increasing attention and motivation while lowering distractibility.
Is Ritalin Safe?
After over 50 years of being on the market, one would like to assume that a drug we administer to children and teens would be safe. However, this is not the case. The safety of Ritalin is still largely unknown. A recent article has come out discussing the results of a study that recommended the drug be prescribed cautiously as Scientists are still unsure about the ratio between benefits to side effects. The article discusses moderate behavioural change and a small increase in “quality of life” with an affiliated loss of sleep and appetite problems. The article refers to a study where 12,000 patients between the ages of three to 18 mainly from the US, Canada and Europe were recruited comparing Ritalin to a placebo.
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