Methylphenidate: what is it and what is it used for?

Methylphenidate is a drug indicated for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is also used to treat postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and narcolepsy.

However, it can also be used, yes, always under medical prescription, to treat fatigue and depression cases resistant to usual treatments.

Knowing a little about the history of methylphenidate

The use of stimulants for the symptomatic treatment of narcolepsy dates back to the 1930s, when ephedrine and amphetamine began to be indicated.

Later, thanks to clinical research, significant progress was observed in hyperactive children to those who had been given amphetamines, specifically, bencedrine. It was already in 1944 during World War II that methylphenidate was first synthesized.

During the contest had been experimented with many chemical variants of amphetamine, in the search for molecules with analogous properties, but with less adverse or milder effects.

After, the methylphenidate patent was taken in 1954. The action of this drug on the human organism revealed, with respect to the drugs of its kind known so far, less neurovegetative side effects.

What is methylphenidate used for?

This drug belongs to the class of compounds with a piperidine structure. Increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain thanks to its ability to inhibit the reuptake of the respective monoamine transporters.

Methylphenidate has a structure similar to amphetamine, but it is not neurotoxic. In this way, its effects are not the same. Let's see in more detail what pathologies this medication is indicated for.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD

ADHD is a neurobiological disease that originates in childhood. To date its exact cause is unknown.

It is a neurobiological disorder originating in childhood, affecting more than 5% of children in the world. At present The exact causes of the development of this disease are unknown. The possibility of a combination of various risk factors acting together is assessed.

However, although the exact causes are unknown, yes it has been identified that genetic and environmental factors They have great influence on their development. In addition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has a probability of being inherited from 76%.

On the other hand, regarding the characteristic symptoms of this disease we can mention 3 nuclear symptoms:

  • Attention deficit.
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsiveness.

In order for these symptoms to be associated with ADHD, certain conditions must be met:

  • They must appear before the age of 7.
  • Stay on time for at least 6 months.
  • They must affect two or more areas in the child's life.
  • Having a significant impact, significantly deteriorating its performance.

Discover: Hyperactivity syndrome: symptoms and treatment

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

This syndrome is characterized by dizziness or a feeling of fainting in the person suffering from it. It is triggered when the autonomic nervous system does not work properly.

In postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, blood vessels do not contract enough to ensure adequate blood supply to the brain

In this way, to try to maintain a sufficient blood supply for the proper functioning of the brain, the autonomic nervous system causes the heart to increase the frequency of beats and the tachycardias appear.

This disease, for which methylphenidate is indicated, may occur for the first time after having an infection because of a virus or after an injury. However, it is very difficult to know if one of these circumstances is the cause of this condition.

Currently, research is underway to better understand the cause of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.


Methylphenidate is administered in patients with narcolepsy, a disorder whose main characteristic is extreme daytime sleepiness.

This disorder It is characterized by extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attack. People with narcolepsy often have difficulty staying awake for long periods of time regardless of the circumstances.

As with the other two pathologies, the specific cause of narcolepsy is unknown. However, it has been seen that patients with this disorder have low hypocretin levels. It is a substance in the brain that helps regulate wakefulness and sleep states.

Read also: Insomnia disorder: causes and treatment


Methylphenidate It is a drug administered under medical prescription, mainly for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is also used to treat other pathologies.

You should follow the doctor’s guidelines and the pharmacist’s recommendations, since it is a drug that has serious adverse effects and that a misuse of it could have serious health consequences.