Since the mid-1950s, doctors have been using Ritalin (also called methylphenidate) to treat a variety of conditions including depression, fatigue syndrome, and narcolepsy. Ritalin gained FDA approval for treatment of hyperactivity in children in 1961.
Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). This treatment has helped thousands of people control their symptoms. But because Ritalin is a stimulant like cocaine, it may cause undesirable changes in the brain over time. It also has the potential for abuse, and because it’s a legal prescription drug, many wrongly assume that it is not dangerous.
So what are the benefits of Ritalin, and what are the risks?
Ritalin is currently prescribed to approximately six million people in the US.
75% of these are children, with boys receiving Ritalin about four times more often than girls.