Ritalin for Children

Ritalin® (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a medication that is often used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is available by prescription only and is a type of stimulant medication. Healthcare providers generally will not recommend Ritalin for children under the age of six years old.
Although Ritalin is a stimulant, it can have effects that are opposite from what would be expected of a stimulant. Stimulants (like caffeine) can cause hyperactivity; however, when used at the doses intended for ADHD, Ritalin usually has a calming effect. While it is not known exactly how Ritalin produces this effect, it is known to affect certain chemicals in the brain.
When used for treating narcolepsy, Ritalin has a stimulating effect because it is taken in higher doses, which helps people stay awake during the day.
(Click What Is Ritalin Used For? for more information about using Ritalin in children, to find out how this stimulant works, and for a list of possible off-label uses.)
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