How Does Ritalin Work?

Ritalin® (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is available in both brand-name and generic form, and is typically taken two or three times a day.
 
For those with narcolepsy, the medicine acts as a stimulant, helping people remain alert and awake throughout the day. However, the way in which Ritalin works for ADHD is not as easy to explain. How can a stimulant drug be useful for treating ADHD?
 
Although Ritalin is a stimulant, it can have effects that are opposite from what would be expected of a stimulant. The drug has a calming effect when used at the doses intended for ADHD treatment. It is thought that Ritalin improves ADHD symptoms by affecting certain chemicals in the brain.
 
(To learn more about how this medication works, click Ritalin. Other topics discussed in this article include dosing guidelines, what to expect in cases of overdose, available strengths of Ritalin, and more.)
 
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