Available for more than 60 years, methylphenidate continues to be one of the most effective medications for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children today. In fact, although there are other drugs such as atomoxetine, tricyclic antidepressants, reboxetine and bupropion, methylphenidate has remained the drug of first choice.
In reality, methylphenidate has come a long way since it was created, although it maintains the same active ingredient. Therefore, today it is possible to find this medicine with different trade names, including: Concerta, Ritalin, Rubifen, Medicebran, Methylin, and Focalin. It also has different forms of action ranging from short and intermediate effect to prolonged effect, which can last up to 12 hours.
Its efficacy has been proven in different placebo and double-blind scientific experiments. Thus, it has been possible to conclude that it is between 65 and 85% effective in children with ADHD, which means that only 20-35% of patients do not respond positively to its mechanism of action. . Long-acting methylphenidate is also known to have greater efficacy than short-acting methylphenidate.
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The benefits of methylphenidate
The effects of methylphenidate in improving ADHD symptoms are undeniable . In fact, treatment with methylphenidate is known to improve children’s attention span, as well as enhance their short-term memory and improve reaction times. This drug also controls impulsivity and considerably improves learning.
The use of methylphenidate also reduces behavioral alterations associated with ADHD such as: disruptive behaviors, impulsiveness, oppositional behaviors and restlessness. In addition, it positively influences the child’s interaction with his environment, reducing the risk of developing transgressive behaviors in youth and adulthood.
What are these positive effects due to?
The mechanism of action of methylphenidate directly affects the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to the attentional symptoms of ADHD. When the dose is increased, it also affects the nigrostriatal pathway and improves the symptoms of hyperactivity. In fact, a study recently conducted at the University of Massachusetts has used functional magnetic resonance imaging and has found that methylphenidate has the ability to “normalize” the unusual activation seen in some brain areas of children with ADHD.
The adverse effects of methylphenidate
We cannot forget that methylphenidate is a medicine and, as such, can have adverse effects, although e should be clarified that these are not severe and that they usually disappear over time, without the need to resort to additional treatment.
However, among the Adverse effects of methylphenidate include a decreased appetite that can lead to weight loss. Children also often suffer from insomnia, stomach pain, and headache. Occasionally, they may also exhibit irritability, emotional lability, and tics.
Although perhaps of greater concern are the long-term effects of methylphenidate. In some studies it has been suggested that this drug can interfere with the normal growth of children, although it has also been observed that during adolescence they usually recover the appropriate height for their age without major problems. Even so, it is recommended to monitor these parameters for the duration of the treatment. Reference is also made to changes in blood pressure and heart rate, although these are isolated cases.
In any case, it is best to keep the child under medical control and adjust the dose accordingly. depending on how you react to the medication since, as a general rule, the benefits of methylphenidate far outweigh the risks.
Important note: The information that you have been able to read in this article is indicative, so before using any type of medication you should always go to your doctor so that he can inform you exactly depending on your particular case. This information should in no case be taken as medical advice.