Ritalin and Depression

Recently I heard of a person being prescribed and antidepressant and Ritalin for depression. The problem is, Ritalin is a stimulant, and depression that manifests in irritation or rageful outbursts is exacerbated by it. A quick search on Ritalin and depression led me to the article, Attention Deficit Disorder and Medication: The Basics, which states:

Sometimes medication failure is due to lack of communication between patient and doctor (and sometimes school). The doctor, patient and family should be clear about exactly which symptoms they expect the medication to treat. Patients should ask questions. They should inform the doctor if there are side effects or if the medication does not seem to be working.

If medication is still not working as expected, it may be time to re-evaluate the diagnosis. Individuals with ADHD may also have other disorders at the same time. Anxiety and depression may superficially resemble ADHD. Occasionally a medical illness may masquerade as a psychiatric condition.

Medication can only take the individual part of the way to recovery. Therapy, community support, coaching and the individuals own determination are important parts of treatment.

Further searching brought me to the transcript of a t.v. interview caled Senior Depression: Healthy For Life from the Eyewitness News Newsroom. The doctor, Helen Lavretsky, M.D., (a geriatric psychiatrist at UCLA), stated:

Normally, an individual who is with geriatric depression, late life depression, responds or shows some signs of improvement in depression after weeks to months of active treatment.

In order to provide faster effect, she prescribes low doses of ritaling to “kick start the effects of anti-depressants in her patients.” She “treated 21 elderly patients with ritalin, along with their traditional anti-depressants. Many felt better in as little as 72 hours.”

However, she noted that the energizing effect of ritalin is brief. By prescribing this with antidepressants, the goal is that the efficacy of the antidepressants will have taken root when the ritalin effect wanes.

In any medical situation, it is in your best interest to be curious, ask questions, and do your research. Learn what your medicine is for and the various effects it has (including side-effects). Check with your doctor to learn what foods and medicines (over the counter or prescription) are contraindicated — that is, could cause a toxic reaction if the medicine is combined with that other substance.

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One Comment on “Ritalin and Depression”

  1. mike Says:

    When I took anti-depressants (seroxat) i found it did not have the effect i was hoping for. Yes, my anxiety and fear of failure etc. are gone most of the time, but I was so tired I could sleep all day, could not concentrate on my work etc. Then to be able to reach a deadline I took some speed (I had been taking it prior to taking a.d. as a form of self-medication I guess) and the combination is great, because the I have no speed-dip of paranoia that come with the longer use of it, and i am energetic and alert. So I did not wurprise me to read that ritalin (which is similar to speed) was being described for depression! Also i was thinking maybe i need an a.d. that is not working solely on serotonin but also on noradraline/dopamine such as Efexor or something.