ADHD Medication and Treatment Reviews

Concerta: ADHD Medication Overview

Concerta is a stimulant ADHD medication used to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults
Generic Name: Methylphenidate HCl

What is Concerta?

Concerta (Generic Name: methylphenidate HCl) is a central nervous system stimulant ADHD medication primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) in children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults up to age 65. Concerta may improve focus for people with inattentive ADHD, and decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior — hallmark ADHD symptoms for many patients.

Concerta contains the same active ingredient as ADHD medications like Ritalin and Daytrana. According to the FDA, Concerta is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. It has not been studied in children under the age of 6.

Concerta can also be used to treat narcolepsy.

What Is the Best Dosage for Concerta?

Concerta capsules are available in 18mg, 27mg, 36mg, and 54mg dosages. The time-release formulation is designed to maintain a steady level of medication in your body throughout the day. Dosage should not exceed 54mg daily for children and adolescents, and 72mg daily for adults.

Capsules should be swallowed whole with water or other liquids. If your child is unable to swallow the pill, your doctor may recommend another medication. Capsules should never by crushed or chewed. The Concerta capsule is designed to release the medication without dissolving the capsule. The empty capsule passes through the digestive tract and out of the body without being digested.

As with all medications, follow your Concerta prescription instructions exactly. Concerta is taken orally, with or without food, once daily. The first dose is typically taken first thing in the morning; it should be taken at the same time each day for the best results.

During treatment, your doctor may periodically ask you to stop taking your Concerta so that he or she can monitor ADHD symptoms; check vital statistics including blood, heart, and blood pressure; or evaluate height and weight. If any problems are found, your doctor may recommend discontinuing treatment.

Some patients report developing a tolerance to Concerta after long-term usage. If you notice that your dosage is no longer controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor to plan a course of action.

What Side Effects Are Associated with Concerta?

The most common side effects associated with Concerta are as follows: decreased appetite, dry mouth, sleep disruption, dizziness, stomach ache, increase sweating, headache, nausea, anxiety, weight loss, and irritability.

Other serious side effects include slowing of growth in children, seizures, priapism and eyesight changes or blurred vision.

Taking Concerta may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor. Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities and other serious heart problems have experienced sudden death, stroke, heart attack, and increased blood pressure while taking Concerta. Stimulants can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Concerta.

Also disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar illness, tics, or depression. The drug manufacturer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, recommends evaluating patients for bipolar disorder, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome prior to stimulant administration. Concerta may create new or exacerbate existing behavior problems, bipolar illness, or Tourette’s syndrome. It can cause psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teenagers. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or sudden suspicions.

Discuss circulation problems with your doctor before taking Concerta, which has been known to cause numbness, coolness, or pain in fingers or toes, including Raynaud’s phenomenon. Report to your doctor any new blood-flow problems, pain, skin color changes, or sensitivities to temperature while taking Concerta.

Stimulants like Concerta have a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially among people who do not have ADHD. It is a “Schedule II Stimulant,” a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule II drugs include Dexedrine, Ritalin, and cocaine. People with a history of drug abuse should use caution when trying this medication. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

What Precautions Are Associated with Concerta?

Store Concerta in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Concerta prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.

You should not take Concerta if you have any of the following conditions: allergy or hypersensitivity to methylphenidate HCI, anxiety, glaucoma, tics or history of Tourette’s syndrome, or if you are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

You should use caution taking Concerta if you have a history of heart or mental problems, seizures, abnormal brain wave tests, circulation problems, or esophagus, stomach or intestine problems.

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Concerta with your doctor. Animal studies indicate a potential risk of fetal harm. Concerta is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.

The safety of Concerta for children under 6 has not been established. The effects of Concerta on adults over age 65 have not been studied.

What Interactions Are Associated with Concerta?

Before taking Concerta, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Concerta can have a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction with antidepressants including MAOIs.

Tell your doctor if you are taking seizure medications, blood thinners, blood pressure medication, or any medication containing a decongestant.

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Concerta before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.

Concerta Sources:

More Information on Concerta and Other ADHD Medications:

Free Download: The Complete Guide to ADHD Medications
Primer: The Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD
5 Rules for Treating Children with Stimulant Medications

42 Concerta: ADHD Medication Overview Related Links

  1. I am a 54 year old female who was diagnosed with ADHD 18 months ago. I have taken Concerta since receiving the diagnosis. I noticed immediately positive changes in my behavior. During the past year I have been taking 72 mg of Concerta with no other medications. I take 36mg early in the morning, and the additional 36mg around 11a.m. I was unable to handle the total 72mg taken at one time, and it was not pleasant by 5p.m. when everything appeared to “leave” me. Now, the 36mg I take at 11 seems to carry me through the day and into the evening.

  2. I’m an adult with ADHD, primarily inattentive. I’ve been on Concerta since summer of 2015. I am currently on 54 mg. Best effects: emotional stability, motivation, bouncing back fast if distracted or forgetful, making intent equal action. Side effects: very small and short-lived, e.g., tiny headaches for just two days, grinding jaw (minor to start with, but none of that for months).

  3. I’ve been on Concerta at varying doses since I was diagnosed at age 21 and I’m now 24 years old. When I first started taking them I did notice an improvement and I shed a few pounds too! The thing is that I’m now on 108mg (even tried 126mg the other day) as I have been prescribed and I get no real benefit from them. When I don’t take them, I feel very lethargic.

  4. I was put on Adderall XR for ADHD. I started at the normal 5 mg dosage and then I started increasing my dosage according to my tolerance level. I’ve struggled with depression, so I’m on Celexa 10 mg daily as well. I decided that the stimulant medication just wasn’t doing it for me (I felt like it made my anxiety worse) so the doctor switched me to Concerta 36 mg. It was too much for me (I was like the walking dead!) so I went down to 18 mg. At first it seemed okay, but now I’ve noticed my symptoms of ADHD have been coming through.

    Not only has it been ineffective, but I’ve gained about 40 pounds since I’ve been on it. I started Concerta in October, and it seemed like suddenly I started packing on the pounds. My appetite has increased and my metabolism has slowed down it seems like. I’m 5’2”, and back when I was on the Adderall I was 110-115 pounds. Now I’m pushing past 150 pounds.

  5. I started taking Concerta (18 mg) 10 months ago for making mistakes at work. I immediately noticed a feeling like my head was clear and I could concentrate. Gradually it got back to where it was and my doctor increased the dose to 27 mg. Again, my head felt clear at first, but gradually that effect was unnoticeable. 4 months ago the doctor prescribed Lipitor for high cholesterol (just over the limit). I don’t know if it was coincidence or not, but I had more problems with insomnia (racing thoughts), but especially “foggy headedness.”

  6. I am 21 and was only diagnosed with ADHD in June this year. I will never take Concerta again! After only one low dose, I got very aggressive and I felt like I had no control over my own body and mind. I got really anxious and worried. I also started to feel really paranoid.

  7. For me, when I take Concerta 36mg, I know it works because I find it easier to manage my thoughts and to focus on key tasks. At the same time I know that taking Concerta, though helpful to feeling motivated, is not a guarantee that I will feel motivated.

  8. My daughter takes Concerta 18mg. When she takes it too late in the morning, she may have difficulty falling asleep at night. On those evenings, I give her chamomile tea and allow her to wind down with a book during bedtime. So far, it has been working well for her.

    1. I have the opposite problem. In high school, I took Concerta every morning before leaving for school at 7 AM. I would then inevitably crash between 7:30 and 9 pm, which caused some serious problems in my extra curricular activities. Falling asleep in the middle of a band concert tends to be viewed as rather disrespectful… I usually experience about a 30 minute period of complete and utter exhaustion about 12-13 hours after taking the drug. Then, I can’t stop eating, because the appetite suppressing side effect is gone and I’m hungry. As a college student, I’m now having to learn to focus better late at night. It’s pretty difficult on those nights when I’m trying to read or study and my average bedtime has changed to about 2 or 3 AM.

  9. I’m 16 and got diagnosed with ADD last summer. I started taking 18mg of Concerta about 6 weeks ago. Two weeks ago, I tried 27mg instead of 18– because my doctor felt that it was needed and I did too. However, by the next Sunday my irritability had gone through the rood, I had developed all of the side effects including a rash. So, after this I was moved back down to the 18mg tablet. All of the other side effects have gone away by today except for the rash. It’s only on my upper body especially on my breasts and stomach areas. Not only does it blister and peel, but it itches. I want to rip my skin off sometimes. My psychologist said that it isn’t normal but the doctor thinks it doesn’t have anything to do with the medication at all. However, I haven’t changed anything about my routine nor my diet.

  10. Diagnosed in Jan, got perscription in March, started yestorday. My son is taking Concerta 18. We are on day 2. The teacher said today he stayed in his seat, he looks normal to me just a little calmer. I spy on him in class and he’s focused and doing his work. Im shocked really. He doesnt want lunch but has a big breakfast and dinner. I probably shouldn’t but I stick it in 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate frosting….i couldn’t get him to swallow it any other way. Applesauce is too thin. Either way it works. I was scared but its okay..

  11. Warning!! A new generic Methylpehnidate ER Tab by Mylan (Manufacturers of Epi-Pen) was released in December of 2016. Because our pharmacy benefits provider, Express Scripts, uses the cheapest generic, and I thought all “bad” generics were pulled last fall it never occurred to me that my sons wheels falling off this spring were related to his medicine. Quite the opposite, we thought he needed a higher dose. Our son was a senior in high school, and has been on Concerta since Kindergarten. We’ve tried other drugs, but it is the only one that works for him. He takes two pills to make one dose. (27mg and 54mg) They only last 12 hours, so we’ve overlayed Intunive 4mg on top of it to help balance him around the clock. Otherwise he was awful in the morning. This spring he started failing classes deemed the easiest class schedule for a senior that his special education teachers had ever seen. One class was ceramics! At first we thought it was senioritis, then we thought maybe the new girlfriend, then I asked my teen to talk to his doctor about a higher dose. That was denied because he needs to gain weight. He was in a car accident and ticketed for distracted driving, and had two more tickets in the month of April. Finally I was at a parent teacher conference May 1st with two of my son’s three special education teachers. They said “he was a different kid than they had worked with for the past three and a half years.” BAM!! It was the drugs! I’ve always relied on his teachers to tell us when a new dose was needed. I called the doctor. My teen was 18 and I could no longer talk to her. She called my teen back. He couldn’t advocate for himself. I asked him to go to the doctor’s office and sign the release form. He couldn’t pull that off on his own. I had him meet me there and sign the form. Then we were granted an emergency meeting with the doctor, which my teen missed!! Around this time I discovered my teen had been switched to this new generic in January, and was never notified!!! I couldn’t believe that a PBM had the right to switch a childs medicine and not tell the parents!!! Especially to a new drug!!! It was absolute garbage for my child and did nothing for him. His senior year was ruined. He had become moody, irritable, irrational, extremely sad and lost his self esteem. It should have been the best time of his life, and instead he chose not to go to PROM. He skipped the senior dinner, skipped the senior party, and didn’t want a party at home. On top of that his job was delivering pizzas. Now his drivers license is in the hands of a judge we’ll see in July.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, I was getting the run-around from Express Scripts. When I called and complained about the garbage generic and asked my options they said my only options were that generic by Mylan or brand name Concerta at a price of around $350 for a 90 day supply. I asked my son’s physician for a 7 day supply locally and a 90 day supply via mail order. When I went to pick up the 7 day supply they asked me why not the generic by Actavis. It supplied 70% of the generic market, and was Concerta under a different brand name. WHAT!!!! I called Express Scripts…again my only options were Mylan and brand name. I asked for a supervisor, and went three levels up. That person when confronted put me on hold, then came back and said “yes, they could supply the Actavis if the script was written for that.” Then the 90 days would be the $29 for each of the two prescriptions that make the one dose. They also said that my child’s record would be labeled “Therapy Failure” for the Mylan generic. I was so angry, and felt betrayed! These people were looking out for their pennies, not my child’s welfare!!!! And they would gladly rip me off in the process!!!

    I hope all drug and PBM execs lose their jobs and drivers licenses and need to be hauled around by their parents!!! Greedy, horrible people!!!

  12. Diagnosed nearly 6 years ago (primarily inattentive) and since then, have been on the generic for Concerta (54mg after some trial and error). For the most part, I’ve been pleased with how it has worked for me. However, since last fall, I’ve been struggling – primarily with anxiety-like symptoms. My job has been quite stressful for for the last year and a half so I am sure that’s played a part…but given that this drug is a stimulant, I’m sure that does not help as well. I decided on my own to stop this drug end of January and seem to have been returning to ‘normal.’ I did see my provider this morning and she has now prescribed Strattera, so fingers crossed for good outcomes!

  13. I am a 22 year old female with ADHD, either the combined type or primarily hyperactive/impulsive. Rare bread. I have been on Concerta 18mg for about a month now I believe. I find it really helps me focus and retain information and be able to listen a lot more carefully to people, and it has definitely reduced the urge I have to interrupt or answer a question before it has even been fully asked. It has even made my writing nicer somehow, maybe because it is slowing my mind down? However, maybe it is because the dose is the lowest and I need a higher one, but, I find it has not necessarily helped with how fast I talk or how fast I do everything, leaving me to accidentally hurt myself HA, or not fully finish my thought or add 100 more thoughts when I am talking.

  14. I recently switch from Xendiate XL to Concerta XR after reading reviews and not getting any improvements from Xenidate. Dosage increased up to 72mg but did not feel like there were sufficient benefits so have asked for my medication to be changed again. Currently wheening off at a drop of 18mg every 4 days, and whilst i had no side effects going on, coming off is different. By 3pm i feel irritable, emotional and fragile. I make the majority of my ‘sales’ calls after 5pm and am really struggling and find myself hypersensitive to peoples comments and tones.

  15. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the start of my graduate program and was put on Mydayis. Once starting the medication I said to my doctor, “well this explains a lot” lol…It slowed my brain down enough to start making good choices and to see things 100% more clearly. However, I was recently switched from Adderall XR (Mydayis) to 54mg Concerta. The Adderall worked perfect for focus but came with the side effect of trichotillomania and mood swings. So far the Concerta has greatly reduced the trichotillomania and nearly eliminated the mood swings. However, it doesn’t work nearly as well for focus. Hopefully it proves to be enough though.

  16. I’ve been taking adderall since 2003. I changed back and forth between adderrall and vyvanse for a few years. I take 100mg of Zoloft and 2mg of Clonazepam. At it’s highest point, I was taking 6, 20mg adderrall pills per day. That’s the thing with adderrall, or any similar type medication, building up a tolerance. In November of this year, I flew to a country where they did not have adderrall, vyvanse, or zenzeti. I had no choice but to try concerta I’d tried to work without it, but the symptoms of ADHD overcome through the medication I’ve been taking for so many years, came through in abundance. I started on 72mg of concerta. While the effects of Vyvanse are what I consider to be best, concerta seems to work well enough. It does indeed give me headaches. For the first week I took it, I also experienced sleeplessness. I really could not fall asleep at night. Fortunately, the sleeplessness has gone away.

  17. I have two children with ADHD…..My daughter is now 11 and has tried Adderall and Vyvanse in the past, both made her very emotional and moody….Vyvanse made her very aggressive! It was so hard experimenting with the different medications till we finally found Concerta and BAM! What a difference! Wonderful! Her attention really perked up and because we do Karate together, I noticed a complete difference in her ability to focus and perform. She was winning medals, feeling confident and her self esteem soared! I feed her a huge breakfast because I do notice that it effects her appetite once she takes the 27mg pill shortly after. She is a bit on the thin side, but nothing too worrisome and her energy level is still as high as always. She goes to a private school with most kids without disabilities, and has an aide that helps to refocus her 40 percent of the time she is at school. She is on a competitive swim team and a green belt in Karate, she is able to be an average student in a highly rated school….I don’t think this would have been possible without the Concerta. She recently has started menstrating so we have had to increase the dose to 36 mg as puberty has effected the effectiveness. She was crashing and exhausted at around 4pm after taking 1 dose at 7;30 am. This higher dose helps her till about 7;00 pm. If I give her a pill later, she won’t be able to get to sleep. Insomnia can be a factor if she takes another pill or takes her dose in the afternoon.

    Her brother is 8 and takes 18mg. I notice it helps him as well, no effect on appetite, he loves his food, but it does help him with his focus in Karate. He is not as athletic as his sister, but is an academic genius with Math and science. He is on the Autism Spectrum but is also able to attend the same school with an aide and at 8 years old, he does grade 11 math. He struggles socially unlike his sister, but they are very close with each other and big sister looks out for him. I feel Concerta has been a real life saver for our family. After my daughter tried other drugs, this one has been the only one that really worked for us.

  18. I have been taking this medicine since I was in first grade I beleive.

    I stopped cold Turkey at 23.

    If I could go back in time and tell my parents not to put me on this meds I would.
    I was actually considered a success story and I always did well in school thanks to this drug.

    The problem is that if I didnt take it I would end up in trouble and suspended or sent home with 8 write ups.

    This medicine only temporarily fixes the problem and doesnt allow your brain to cop e or to catch up.

    Without ABA type therapy and grounding techniques and really breaking down organizing and modeling behaviors into small achievable goals and other therapeutic activities this medicine will make your child worse in the long wrong becoming completely dependent on it.

  19. My son was diagnosed with adhd and impulsivity symptoms in 2017. We started with the Generic version of Concerta and then decided to try the brand name after too many side effects of the generic version. We’ve had very positive results since. My son is 9 and the 27mg dose fits him well. His spirit and happiness is our priority and we feared that medicating his ADHD symptoms would take away his lively spirit. It did turn him into a zombie when we tried a higher dose and we quickly lowered the dose back down to the 27mg. He tells us all the time that he feels “normal” when he takes it. He’s able to control his impulsivity by at least 80%, he’s able to focus a lot better, he can communicate with ease and his stories are more linear, his appetite did not get affected but his sleep has been pushed to about an hour later. Bed time used to be 8h30 now it’s 9h30 sometimes 10. Best of luck to everyone trying to find the right medication.

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