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There are risks associated with the arbitrary use of these drugs, according to experts g1, do not provide scientific evidence that it “increases intelligence”. It can affect your ability to concentrate, but it can also have side effects such as increased anxiety, headaches, loss of appetite and even hallucinations, or worsen schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Understand below why.
What is methylphenidate and what is its mechanism of action?
Methylphenidate chloride, sold under the trade names Ritalin and Concerta, is part of a group of medicines called psychostimulants, medicines that stimulate our central nervous system. This means that like caffeine, nicotine, cocaine and even amphetamines, it causes variability in our moods, which increases the body’s state of alertness and arousal.
When our neurons communicate with each other, these drugs act on the very part of our brain that is the point of contact with nerve cells, synapses. It is in these areas that the information necessary for the functioning of our bodies is transmitted.
This whole process of information exchange takes place through so-called mediators, messenger molecules, which are released from one neuron to another.
Once the neurotransmitters have received their message, they are either broken down or returned to the nerve cells. But unlike other drugs that increase the amount of these substances, such as adrenaline, Methylphenidate works by blocking the reuptake of these molecules, stimulating more and more nerve cells and thus concentration processes..
What is the indication for the drug?
Methylphenidate is indicated for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy in children and adults.
Amilton Santos Jr., a psychiatrist and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Unicamp’s Medical School, explains that the drug’s precursor was first studied in the 1950s as a medicine for migraines, but its usefulness was soon abandoned. scientists understood that it exacerbated these conditions.
On the other hand, some children, who were more distracted and agitated, became more concentrated and focused with the use of medications. Therefore, a drug whose formulation has been improved over the years now helps in the treatment of ADHD, but not all cases require the use of the drug.
“He is not a cure. It is not the only form of treatment. We always say: in mental health, nothing is different from non-pharmacological approaches,” the doctor emphasizes.
Controversial impact on academic performance
Methylphenidate hydrochloride is a medicine that must be given according to the adjustment needs of each patient. In other words, an expert case-by-case assessment of the dose of the drug is required. He reports the dose according to the periods of greater school or behavioral difficulty in the ADHD patient.
“The cognitive effects of methylphenidate have been clearly demonstrated in people diagnosed with ADHD,” says Henrique Bottura, clinical director of the Instituto de Psiquiatria Paulista.
He explains that when used in therapeutic doses and for appropriate indications, it helps treat symptoms associated with the disorder, such as inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity, but the effectiveness of cognitive performance in people without the problem is questionable.
There is currently no evidence of long-term effects of methylphenidate on academic performance. Bottura points out that some studies have even evaluated the effects of the drug on the mathematical performance of children and adolescents, but the results of these studies have shown very little improvement.
“Many people today use this drug to improve their concentration because it is much more challenging today than it was years ago. However, the benefits [do metilfenidato] this has not been proven, ”he points out.
Psychiatrist Amilton Santos Jr. adds that the drug can even keep a person awake longer and therefore study more. But rest after studying, he points out, is just as important in these cases, because it is during these times that the brain organizes synapses and stores all the information learned during waking hours.
Arbitrary use of the drug at uncontrolled doses can cause increased anxiety, headaches, loss of appetite, and in some rare cases, even hallucinations. – Photo: Pexels
“But [o metilfenidato] does not increase human intelligence. It increases alertness in the body during its activity, a period of time during which a person can stay focused for a little longer, ”he points out.
The problem is that in people who do not have ADHD and who use it alone, this can cause several problems because the proper doses of the drug cannot be controlled.
“And then when the drugs run out, he feels really depressed, he feels depressed, without the courage, without the energy called sobriety,” the doctor warns.
What are the main side effects after over-the-counter use?
Self-medication with methylphenidate may not help the academic performance of those seeking “rise” in their studies, and in some cases may even result in serious health problems.
Researcher Fernando Freitas from the Laboratory of Mental Health and Psychosocial Care at the National School of Public Health (Ensp / Fiocruz) points out that because these drugs change brain chemistry and have a calming effect, they create a psychological addiction that stimulates the need to increase. dose.
“It helps to focus. You can focus on it more, you pay more attention, but this is fleeting,” he recalls.
The problem is that if a person has a normal ability to concentrate, it’s as if he or she has taken an “overdose of caffeine,” Santos Jr.
Therefore, indiscriminate use of the drug at uncontrolled doses may cause increased anxiety, headache, loss of appetite, and in some rare cases, even hallucinations and worsening of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
The problem, according to the doctor, is that patients often do not know if they are prone to these problems until the first episode occurs. Thus, he believes the key issue relates to managing the availability of this drug and the need for a medical partner.
“All medicines have indications and contraindications. People are more sensitive and less sensitive. So the most important thing is not to use them occasionally and without the supervision of an expert in the field.”