Posted by ed_uk on February 5, 2005, at 10:44:08
In reply to Re: Stimulants » ed_uk, posted by zeugma on February 4, 2005, at 19:22:37
>I suppose that famous 'paradoxical' calming effect isn't all it's cracked up to be, then?
I think this is something that often causes confusion! When parents say that Ritalin 'calms' their child they generally mean that it reduces hyperactivity ie. not that it 'calms' anxiety. As you know all too well, Ritalin often makes anxiety worse- although a few people do seem to find it anxiolytic. The fact that it can reduce hyperactivity is not really paradoxical at all! Because Ritalin often makes boring repetitive tasks seem interesting, and because it generally improves concentration, Ritalin can often reduce boredom and 'fidgety restlessness', even on people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD. This effect is certainly not unique to children ...nor is it unique to ADHD patients, as has often been claimed. Because Ritalin is commonly refered to as a stimulant, people find it very hard to understand how it can reduce hyperactivity. Perhaps it would be better just to refer to it as methylphenidate! Because it called a stimulant, people often think that it effects will be the opposite of a sedative such as Xanax. Pharmacologically, the effects of Ritalin are in no way 'opposite' to the effects of Xanax. Classifying drugs as being either stimulants or sedatives is really very crude!! After all, some people get hyped-up on benzos!
Whether or not Ritalin makes a person 'hyper' is very individual, it is not simply a function of their age or whether or not they have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some ADHD children get much worse on Ritalin, whereas other improve greatly. This also applies to ADHD adults. Similarly, some non-ADHD adults get very 'hyped-up' on Ritalin, whereas others find that it helps them sit still and complete masses of paperwork. As ever, drug response is very individual... and very difficult to predict. Response to Ritalin also depends on dose, most people would feel hyped-up if they took too much. The doses which are effective for hyperactive children are generally quite low. There is so much trial and error in psycho-pharmacology, much more that most pdocs would be willing to admit!