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Dr. Vijayakumar D.R MBBS, DPM, DNB (NIMHANS), CCST (UK)
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Psychostimulants

PATIENT INFORMATION ON PSYCHOSTIMULANTS

The name of your medication is methylphenidate

Use

Psycho stimulants are primarily used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. These drugs are also approved for use in Parkinson’s Disease and Narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder). Though they are currently not approved for this indication, psycho stimulants have been found useful in the treatment of refractory depression.

How quickly will the drug start working?

Some response to psycho stimulants is usually noted within the first week of treatment of ADHD and tends to increase over the next 3 weeks.

How does the doctor decide on the dosage?

Psycho stimulants come in various preparations including short-acting and slow release forms. The dose is based on the body weight and is usually given several times a day. Take the drug exactly as prescribed; do not increase or decrease the dose without speaking to your doctor.

How long should you take this medication?

Psycho stimulants are usually prescribed for a period of several years. Some clinicians may decide to prescribe “ drug holidays” to individuals on this medication, I. e., the drug is not taken at certain times (e. g., week-ends, vacations, etc.).

Side effects

Side effects occur, to some degree, with all medication. They are usually not serious and do not occur in all individuals. They may sometimes occur before beneficial effects of the medication are noticed. If a side effect continues, speak to your doctor about appropriate treatment.

Common side effects that should be reported to your doctor at the next appointment include:

  • Energizing/agitated feeling , excitability-Some individuals may feel nervous or have difficulty sleeping for a few days after starting this medication. If you are taking the medication in the evening, the physician may decided to prescribe it earlier in the day.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure-Speak to your doctor.
  • Headache-This tends to be temporary and can be managed by taking analgesics (aspirin, acetaminophen) when required. Blood pressure should be checked.
  • Nausea or heartburn- If this happens, take medication with food or milk.
  • Dry mouth-Sour candy and sugarless gum help increase saliva in your mouth; try to avoid sweet, calorie-laden beverages. Drink water and brush your teeth regularly.
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss-Taking the medication after meals, eating smaller meals more frequently or drinking high calorie drinks may help.
  • Blurred vision-This usually occurs at the start of treatment and may last 1-2 weeks. Reading under a bright light or at a distance may help; a magnifying glass can be of temporary use. If the problem continues, advise your doctor.
  • Mild hair loss-Inform your doctor.

Rare side effects you should report to your doctor IMMEDIATELY include:

  • Muscle twitches, tics or movement problems
  • Fast or irregular heart beat
  • Persistent throbbing headache
  • Soreness of the mouth, gums, or throat
  • Skin rash or itching, swelling of the face
  • Any unusual bruising or bleeding, appearance of splotchy purplish darkening of the skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, fever, or flu-like symptoms
  • Yellow tinge in the eyes or to the skin; dark-colored urine
  • Severe agitation or restlessness
  • A switch in mood to an unusual state of happiness or irritability; fluctuations in mood

Let your doctor know as soon possible if you miss your period or suspect you may be pregnant.

What should you do if you forget to take a dose of your medication?

If you take the psycho stimulant 2-3 times a day forget to take a dose by more than 4 hours, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule. DO NOT DOUBLE THE DOSE.

Interactions with other medication

Because psycho stimulants can change the effect of other medication, or may be affected by other medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking other drugs, including over-the-counter medication such as cold remedies. Always inform any doctor or dentist that you see that you are taking a psycho stimulant drug. 

Precautions

  1. Do not increase or decrease your dose without consulting your doctor.
  2. Do not chew or crush the tablets or capsules.
  3. Use caution while driving or performing tasks requiring alertness as these drugs can mask symptoms of fatigue and impair concentration.
  4. Report to your doctor any changes in sleeping or eating habits or changes in mood or behavior.
  5. Do not stop your drug suddenly as this may result in withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and changes in mood and behavior.
  6. This drug may interact with medication prescribed by your dentist, so let him/her know the name of the drug you are taking.
  7. Store your medication in a clean, dry area at room temperature. Keep all medication out of the reach of children.

If you have any questions regarding this medication, do not hesitate to contact your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse