Question: I’ve taken various antidepressants over the years and they don’t seem to do much good. Finally, my doctor prescribed Ritalin and I am feeling pretty good on this. But I’m concerned about long-term effects. Is it OK to take Ritalin for life?
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Ritalin is NOT an antidepressant. Some psychiatrists may use Ritalin "off label" as a supplement to an existing antidepressant regimen, but this is generally not recommended. Ritalin is an amphetamine, and is not intended for use with depressive disorder. It is habit forming in adults. It is not safe to be used for life as it will have numerous adverse health consequences when used in some adults, and its use requires close and continued monitoring. It is approved as an attention-deficit disorder medication, usually in children, and is definitely not a first line drug for depressive disorder in adults or children. Be sure to see your doctor regularly when prescribed this medication.
The warning for Ritalin is that misuse or abuse of the drug can result in serious (possibly fatal) heart and blood pressure problems. It must be used with caution by people who have mental/mood disorders or a history of alcohol/drug abuse. Before taking this medication, your doctor would have asked for this history. Do not increase your dose by yourself, take it more often, or take it for a longer time or in a different way than prescribed. Doing so may result in a decrease in the effect of this drug, drug dependence, or abnormal thoughts/behavior (paranoia).