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Physical and Emotional Side Effects of Ritalin in Adults

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 3/9/2011

If you're just starting to take Ritalin, you may have noticed that you feel different - and not always in a positive way. Headaches, drowsiness, nausea and an increase in blood pressure are just some of the side effects of Ritalin.

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    Physical Side Effects

    Ritalin seems to be a miracle drug for people with ADHD and narcolepsy. For example, if you have adult ADHD, you may find yourself being more productive and happier when on Ritalin. But many people are wary of taking Ritalin due to the side effects that it may cause.

    The side effects of Ritalin in adults can be physical and/or emotional. Even at low doses, a person taking Ritalin may feel drowsy or overly awake and alert, have a suppressed appetite, experience nausea or vomiting, or develop an irregular heartbeat or a skin rash. At higher doses, more severe side effects may occur including delirium, fever and sweating, seizures leading to a coma, muscle spasms, pupil dilation, an increase in blood pressure, dry mouth, or vomiting. If you experience any of these side effects while taking Ritalin, see a doctor immediately to see whether you should discontinue the medication.

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    Emotional Side Effects

    Low doses of Ritalin can cause euphoric feelings. High doses can also create an exhilarated mood in some people, but in other people, they may instead lead to agitation, confusion, increased anxiety, and restlessness. People taking Ritalin may experience hallucinations or paranoia, especially those on extremely high doses. Some of these side effects of Ritalin in adults may be reduced by taking Adderall instead of Ritalin.

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    Other Side Effects

    Other possible side effects of Ritalin in adults include OCD-like tendencies and formication (the feeling that insects are crawling beneath the skin).

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    Long Term Effects

    Ritalin may have some long-term side effects, but these have not yet been sufficiently studied. However, what is known is that those who abuse Ritalin for a long period of time may experience several unwanted side effects such as increased anxiety and insomnia, as well as other symptoms similar to those seen in people who have paranoid schizophrenia. And people who inject Ritalin may develop lesions at the injection site.

    In the long term, people who are on Ritalin as prescribed by a doctor - if they are taking the appropriate doses for their weights - do not appear to develop dependency. But those who do abuse the drug tend to develop a dependence on it, and they may find that their tolerance level towards the effects that they seek rises, which means that they need more and more of the drug in order to obtain the same results. In fact, if they stop taking Ritalin, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as exhaustion and depression. They may also crave the drug and experience high levels of anxiety if they are unable to obtain it.

    NB: The content of this article is for information purposes and is not intended as a replacement for sound medical advice and opinion.

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    References

    Center for Substance Abuse Research. "Ritalin." http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/ritalin.asp

    PDR Health. "Ritalin/Ritalin-SR/Ritalin LA." http://www.pdrhealth.com/drugs/rx/rx-mono.aspx?contentFileName=Rit1383.html&contentName=Ritalin&contentId=507

All About ADHD Medications

If someone you know has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be overwhelmed with information. This series of article discusses various ADHD medications, most specifically Ritalin.
  1. Physical and Emotional Side Effects of Ritalin in Adults
  2. The Differences Between Ritalin and Adderall
  3. Medicating Hyperactive Kids: The Controversy Behind Ritalin and ADHD