What is Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
There are several disorders of the brain that can cause emotional and social problems, but arguably the most misunderstood is probably attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Typically diagnosed during adolescence, ADHD can cause destructive emotional outbursts and the inability to focus or concentrate.
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While it is rare, some high functioning adults may not be diagnosed until they are in college or even years later while working their first job. Despite when they are diagnosed, these individuals often find it hard to complete tasks and to fit in socially. The issues associated with ADHD can leave patients with low self-esteem, anxiety or even depression.
What is the treatment of ADHD?
Thankfully, with the increased push for effective therapies and medications, there has been an increase in treatments to help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.
What is Methylphenidate?
Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant marketed under several names such as Ritalin or Concerta that is designed to treat this condition.
Concerta vs Ritalin
While many may be under the impression that Ritalin and Concerta are the same medication, there is a fundamental distinction. Ritalin is a standard tablet whereas Concerta is a specially formulated capsule that is designed to slowly release methylphenidate preventing the need for the patient to take multiple doses throughout the day as they do with a prescription for Ritalin. This newer, extended-release formulation can last for up to twelve hours. It was developed using the cutting-edge technology of osmotic-controlled release oral delivery system (OROS). This method utilized the water in the stomach to allow the medication to be absorbed gradually through the process of osmosis. With the extended-release of the drug, the need to re-medicate children during the school day is eliminated.
While some patients respond equally as well to Ritalin as they do Concerta this isn’t necessarily the case for all individuals. If you are currently taking another medication for ADHD and are not happy with the number of doses required throughout the day, talk to your doctor about giving Concerta a try. This medication is highly effective when used as directed.
What is Concerta prescribed for?
ADHD is the most common condition that Concerta is prescribed for, but other off-label ailments respond well to this type of stimulant such as lethargy, depression, and obesity. Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant that affects certain chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It was designed to tweak the brain chemistry in two different but essential ways. To begin with, it blocks the reuptake of two specific neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, at the synapses of neurons. Secondly, Concerta promotes the release of additional dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Due to how this happens, the neurotransmitter levels are not high enough to induce the euphoria associated with amphetamines and opiates making addiction less likely if used as prescribed.
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What are the side effects of Concerta?
Concerta has been approved for individuals age 6 to 65 that are diagnosed with ADHD or one of several off-label conditions. If used as prescribed individuals should begin to feel more focused and have a better concentration level within thirty minutes of taking a dose, but the full effects will usually be felt from five to nine hours later with a total elimination from the body within 48 hours after ingesting. For most patients who have never taken Concerta, doctors will begin with a conservative dose to evaluate how the body handles it. A starting dosage of 18 mg/day is generally recommended then titrated to a higher dosage if needed to control the symptoms of their disorder. Patients who start at higher dosages than is required often complain about jitteriness and a rapid heart rate.
The following list is the most common side effects reported by Concerta users; they include:
- Decreased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Disruption in sleeping habits
- Stomach ache
- Increased sweating
- Weight loss
Unfortunately, as with any medication of this nature, individuals who desire to use a stimulate for reasons other than the correct diagnosis may seek out Concerta. Because of the time-released nature of this mediation, getting high is virtually impossible unless the capsule is broken apart and ingested immediately, snorted or injected. However, those who attempt to use this medication in this way may find themselves in danger of overdosing or becoming addicted. Most often individuals abuse stimulants for one of several reasons but the most popular are using it as a weight-loss measure, to improve academic performance or to prevent falling asleep. Unfortunately, some individuals falsely believe that Concerta is a safer alternative to using cocaine to get high. Misusing this and other stimulants is unwise and can be deadly especially if the dosage is at the higher end of the scale.
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How to ask your doctor for Concerta?
While most people find it to be an extremely effective treatment, Concerta is not for everyone, especially children who have severe anxiety, tics or Tourette’s Syndrome. Individuals who have a prior history of dependency on alcohol or drugs may not be the ideal candidate for treatment. Certain medications may affect the way this or any methylphenidate is metabolized in the body causing severe adverse reactions.
To help prevent or lessen any potential side effects, take Concerta at the same time each day, preferably early in the morning. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medication. Alcohol may cause the methylphenidate to be released too quickly into the bloodstream causing an accidental overdose. Be sure to use caution when driving or using heavy machinery while on Concerta as it may impair thinking or the time needed to react.
Some patients may be asked to discontinue Concerta for a short time so that their provider can evaluate how their behavior has been affected. Occasionally, patients may find that they need a stronger dose to achieve the same effects as it initially did. If this occurs, the provider may change to another type of medication to prevent a possible dependency.
If you or your child have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are not satisfied with the current treatment, speak to your doctor today about Concerta.