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ADD & ADHD Center

Effects of Ritalin Withdrawal

author image Helen Nnama
Helen Nnama has six years of writing experience. She is a health contributor to TBR Journal, editor of fertility confidential manuals, published poet, and a greeting card writer. She has a B.S. in microbiology, an M.S. in epidemiology, and is an M.D. candidate. A former state HIV/AIDS epidemiologist and NIA fellow at Johns Hopkins, she has research experience with published work.
Effects of Ritalin Withdrawal
You may feel tired. Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Ritalin, generically known as methylphenidate, is a prescription medication used to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. This drug is a central nervous system stimulant that works by modifying the amounts of natural substances in the brain. Ritalin is also used to treat narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder which causes excessive sleep in children and adults. Ritalin can be habit-forming in some patients; in these cases, the doctor might order drug withdrawal which causes several effects.

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Fatigue is one of the possible effects of Ritalin withdrawal, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. When used for long periods, Ritalin typically increases attention, wakefulness and focus. A sudden or abrupt halt in use, however, can have the opposite effect. The therapeutic effect of the stimulant is no longer achieved causing moderate to severe fatigue.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, depression is another effect of Ritalin withdrawal. Ritalin as a drug is prescribed to increase the patient’s level of dopamine, a brain chemical responsible for regulating attention, movement and pleasure. When this drug is abused and taken chronically, it can produce a rapid increase in dopamine levels that can lead to serious complications. Therefore, when drug use is stopped, depression can occur.

Disturbed Sleep Patterns

Disturbed sleep patterns are possible effects of Ritalin withdrawal, as stated by MedlinePlus. Regulating sleep is one of the actions of this drug. Ritalin is even indicated for patients who sleep excessively to control their sleep disturbance. With chronic Ritalin use, patients have a substantial decrease in sleep. Sudden stop or drug withdrawal can either exacerbate this decrease in sleep or increase it to abnormal levels.


Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, malnutrition can occur as an effect of Ritalin withdrawal. Ritalin as a stimulant can decrease appetite which potentially leads to under nourishment and malnutrition. At high doses with repeated use, as well as with abrupt withdrawal, this drug can cause severe nutritional imbalances leading to harmful complications.

Cardiovascular Complications

Cardiovascular complications are a possible effect of Ritalin withdrawal, according to the MedlinePlus. Ritalin causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Ritalin abuse as well as drug withdrawal causes cardiovascular complications which can lead to stroke and even death.

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