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Chemical structure of methylphenidate
Tablets of a drug containing methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is a drug which is similar to amphetamine. Its name is often shortened to MPH but is better known by the brand name of Ritalin. MPH stimulates the central nervous system. It does this by increasing dopamine transmission in the brain.[1]

The drug is commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. It is sometimes used together with other drugs to treat depression. In most countries, its use needs to be prescribed by a doctor.

The most common side-effects of taking the drug are nervousness and sleeping problems. About one in ten patients see these problems. Other side-effects include changes of blood pressure, headache, and weight loss. Rare cases of Tourette syndrome and psychosis have been reported, amongst others.

Sometimes, the drug has been prescribed to children, to help them stay focused in school. This use has been criticised by the media. Using methylphenidate in children may be problematic, because it has been linked with slower growth.[2] The media often use the name Ritalin for all drugs containing methylphenidate, and even for other stimulants used to treat ADHD. Ritalin is one drug containing methylphenidate, which is often used in such cases.

This drug can also provide euphoria and is addictive to a level, especially if abused.