If you suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) then the medication you will resort to is Ritalin. Nearly, all psychiatrists find this drug to be highly effective in treating this condition. Patients will exhibit signs of improvement over the likely course of the prescription as directed by the doctor. Ritalin increases the concentration span and allows the person to retain focus on one particular activity for longer periods of time.
While, certainly this medicine is able to effectively treat the condition, there are other notable things to keep in mind. There are side effects associated that can literally be very difficult to deal with at times. The reason for knowing the side effects is to control the rampant abuse of this drug. Some people, particularly the teenage group will take this medicine without any sort of prescription. They may do so as a way of deliberately increasing their concentration span, especially during the exam phase.
It is important to be highly aware of the misuse of the Ritalin drug. If the dose is in a higher amount and is taken over a span of time, then the consequences can be a lot. The chemical composition of the drug can cause complications within the body.
This article will explore some of the side effects that come attached with Ritalin. However, it is first pertinent to know what Ritalin really is and then the particular effects this drug has on the body?
What is Ritalin?
Ritalin is classified as methylphenidate that directly alters the functioning of the nervous system. It affects the secretion of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which in turn help to decrease the symptoms of ADHD. Also commonly believed that the drug helps in inducing a higher level of concentration. It may also improve listening skills at the same time reducing fidgeting.
For 6 million children diagnosed with ADHD in the USA as per 2016, around 40% of them have prescribed Ritalin. Where people go wrong is when this drug is considered to be the only way out. The medicine should always be accompanied by proper behavioural therapy.
Needless to say, you should never take Ritalin without consulting a medical professional first. The misuse as mentioned before is common and can lead to severe complications.
It is now important to look at some of the related side effects of the Ritalin drug.
What happens to your body when you take Ritalin?
The Central Nervous System
Ritalin will alter the secretion of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These two chemicals are responsible for controlling certain activities like the ability to focus, listen etc. What this drug does is that it blocks the reabsorption in the neurons. The amount of these chemicals increase gradually depending upon the dose that is ingested. The person then finds him/herself to be able to pay attention more easily with better listening ability.
Here, one thing is important to note. For people who are already suffering from any sort of anxiety disorder, the symptoms are likely to get worse with the drug. It is strongly advised that people who have had any history of seizures should keep themselves away from Ritalin.
The potential side effects of Ritalin on the central nervous system are plenty. People on a shorter timescale reported a number of complications which are mentioned as follows.
- A migraine
- A general feeling of discomfort
- Increased phases of nervousness
For children who have not yet reached their adolescence, there is a list of things that you should keep in mind. Firstly, the drug is likely to affect the growth development of the child. Thereby, making it even more important to consult a doctor before resorting towards this medication.
Ritalin & Addiction
One other thing people miss out on knowing is that the drug has the tendency to be addictive. The reason is simple and straightforward. Since the drug induces the secretion of dopamine, the person feels more pleased and relaxed with every dose ingested. If you continue to take the medicine on a long term basis then that becomes a habit difficult to quit. This is one major reason why your psychiatrist would recommend a drug holiday every now and then.
An addiction to Ritalin may require therapy and professional treatment. The withdrawal symptoms that are associated can be extremely difficult to cope up with. Abuse of the drug has been linked with a feeling of confusion, nausea and severe mood disorder.
In addition to Ritalin being somewhat harmful to the CNS, it can also considerably affect the circulatory system. People who have had a history of any heart problem found the drug to have caused problems within the body. The patients suffered from cold fingers and toes with skin becoming particularly red.
Peripheral Vascular Disease is a complication that results in the narrowing of the blood vessels located outside the heart and the brain. Patients with PVD are advised not to take any dose of Ritalin. Doing so can worsen the problem.
The short terms effects on the heart are also worth mentioning. People who take a higher dosage of Ritalin will face the problem of increased heartbeat and high body temperature. In addition, it can make a person feel extremely jittery and irritable. These are some of the short-term effects that you are likely to face with every dose.
One thing you should never do is to inject Ritalin intravenously. Any contact made with the blood vessels can be extremely dangerous. It can cause the blood pressure to shoot up. There have been reported instances where such a situation led to the death of the person.
The Digestive System
The digestive system is also not safe from the effects of Ritalin. The drug can interfere with the normal working and the problem may persist for long. One common complaint you will hear is that Ritalin causes the person to lose his/her appetite. You don’t feel like eating after you have had your dose. Apart from that people will also report a feeling of extreme nausea that often gets accompanied by a stomach ache.
The two side effects that you might exhibit are fine. They are not of a serious concern. However, the problem occurs when you start vomiting and experience diarrhoea and abdominal pain. In that case, it is important for you to consult a doctor on an emergency basis. The drug may be causing some abnormalities within your gut area.
Those who abuse on Ritalin will find their digestive system is disrupted. Misuse of Ritalin is often linked with malnourishment and loss of appetite. There have also been instances where the person experienced rapid weight loss.