Concerta is an FDA-approved prescription medication for the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, for both adults and children. It is not intended to be used for weight loss. However, upper abdominal pain in children and adolescents and decreased appetite in adults were the most commonly observed side effects in greater than 5 percnt of individuals taking the medication during clinical testing, according to concerta.net. Both side effects may be associated with weight loss in some individuals taking the medication.
Intended Use of Concerta
Concerta is a central nervous system, or CNS, stimulant that comes as an oral medication. CNS stimulants are the most common prescribed pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD. Concerta is FDA-approved for individuals ages 6 to 65 in doses ranging from 18 mg to 108 mg. The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual," DSM-IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists ADHD as a psychiatric morbidity, and suggests presentation of certain symptoms to warrant prescription medication for treatment. Only a doctor of medicine, preferably a psychiatrist or ADHD specialist, should prescribe Concerta.
CNS Stimulants to Treat ADHD
Concerta and other central nervous system stimulants are thought to treat symptoms of ADHD by blocking the reuptake of the catecholamine neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinepherine, from the presynaptic neuron and increasing the release of those neurotransmitters into the extraneuronal space. Essentially, people with ADHD are not stimulated enough, contrary to some popular thinking that they are “too stimulated.” By altering your brain chemistry to sustain higher concentrations of naturally occurring stimulants, you are better able to focus and pay attention.
Potentially Grave Side Effects
FDA approval for prescription drugs requires thorough double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans. In other words, volunteers do not know whether they are getting a sugar pill or the medication, and the researchers do not know until the study data are recorded who received the medication. The website concerta360.net contains patient information regarding the potential side effects of Concerta. The side effects that warrant the most caution are sudden cardiac death and new or worsening psychiatric symptoms. These side effects are common to CNS stimulants and not unique to Concerta. However, your doctor must know your complete medical history and current medications in order to assist you in making an informed decision as to whether to take Concerta.
Other Unintended Side Effects
The first weight loss medications were CNS stimulants. It is possible, if taken at a non-therapeutic dose, one higher than is recommended, that an adult might experience decreased appetite. Certainly, decreased appetite could lead to weight loss. However, the potential side effects of even the clinically approved dose of Concerta greatly outweigh the potential side effect of weight loss. Additionally, it is illegal for a physician to prescribe a drug for a purpose other than the one approved by the FDA. Concerta has not been approved as a weight loss drug. For children and adolescents, certainly, having an upset stomach or abdominal pain might cause reduced food intake, which could lead to weight loss. Any changes in weight while taking the medication should immediately be reported to your doctor.
Differences between Concerta and other CNS Stimulants
The most common prescription CNS stimulants are Amphetamine HCl, and Concerta is not of that drug type. Because Concerta is not amphetamine-based, you are less likely to experience decreased appetite, and therefore weight loss, taking Concerta compared with other CNS stimulants. The National Institute of Mental Health also has medication and information about unintended side effects for all psychiatric medications, and is more lay-reader friendly than wading through the Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharmaceutical website. Your doctor should also answer any concerns or questions you may still have.