Normally I focus on practices that lead to natural ADHD relief. We have this focus on
the blog. because lifestyle factors wield substantial impact on the ADHD mind. A change of personal habits can often be the solution on its own.
But for some people, medications may be the only option that works. Nothing works 100% for everyone, after all.
Ritalin is one of the most popular ADHD prescription medications available. It’s a powerful drug, and for those considering it, they should know exactly how it will impact their or their child’s minds.
How the brain processes rewards, chemically speaking
At its most basic level, the brain is a rather simple machine. When it receives the right amount of dopamine, pleasure signals are sent to the body. The brain then internally signals itself to focus on the pleasure trigger. Web MD writes:
“Dopamine is not only involved with movement and attention but with reward and motivation — it modulates brain signals that say, ‘This is important! Pay attention!'” Volkow says. “So we think Ritalin highlights the task the child is doing. “
How does Ritalin enter the picture? The issue with the ADHD brain, especially in young children, is that there are too many competing inputs that remove dopamine from where it should be, leaving the brain in a chronic state of deficiency. This chemical imbalance results in the chronic inattention that many with ADHD contend with.
Ritalin helps block out those other competing sources of dopamine uptake, helping the brain maintain the right level of reward centered pleasure and focus (through dopamine). For some people affected with ADHD, such a rebalancing of the brain’s dopamine levels suddenly gives them a level of chemically corrected focus they’ve never experienced before.
Of course with medications, nothing comes for free. You can read my own experience with ADHD meds in Getting Unstuck (free for download on the sidebar). The bottom line was that the effects were temporary for me. Many others share my experience of receiving only temporary effects from the meds.
You should also know that Ritalin is a Schedule 2 stimulant. This means it has some recognized medical use but also a strong potential for abuse, with side effects.
Side effects include decreased appetite, headaches, heart palpitations, eyesight changes or blurred vision, high blood pressure, and depression, among other symptoms.
Consider it an option. But not the first one
When people ask me if they should consider medication, my answer is always the same.
“Never exclude the possibility. But start on natural grounds first, if at all possible.”
Less medications in the body is generally a good thing, both for your body and your wallet. Healthy lifestyle activities and principles can have an enormous impact on our ability to control our minds. Even more importantly, we can implement these good habits on a lifelong basis and feel good about it, something that can not be said of medications.
High strength medications like Ritalin are somewhat like a fine surgeon’s scalpel: highly effective when done just right, but potentially harmful when done off path or too deep. This is why a prudent decision makes keeps them as a backup option.
Hopefully now you know when and when not to put Ritalin under serious consideration. We are blessed that such an option is even available to us in the ADHD community. I personally look forward to even more potent and safer medications that the future will bring us. As medicine evolves, the gap between medical and natural remedies will continue to get smaller.