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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Ritalin and Weight Loss

10/23/2000

Question:

I am a second grade teacher. One of my seven year old girls has been diagnosed with ADHD. She has been on Ritalin (I`m not sure of the exact dose) since June. There has been a remarked improvement in her behavior and academic achievement. Today her doctor took her off because she`s lost 4 pounds. I know Ritalin suppresses appetite but I`m concerned about this child being off any medication. Does Adderall effect appetite as much? Or are there other natural substances that could help? Also, what is the link between ADHD and serotonin? Thank you for your help.

Answer:

The great majority of the time individuals on stimulants do not continue their anorexia (not wanting to eat) after the first two to six weeks on medication. The small percentage that do (like this child) often respond without chronic anorexia when they are put on a different stimulant (although she may still have a few weeks of decreased appetite). In one person methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, generic) may suppress appetite severely while another person may get much more anorectic with dexedrine or with the dexedrine four salt combination (Adderall). However, only a medication trial can tell.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati