What Are The Differences Between Methylphenidate And Adderall?

Methylphenidate, often sold under the names Concerta or Ritalin, is a powerful CNS stimulant that can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. The first version of the drug was created by, now known as Novartis Corporation, the chemist named Leandro Panizzon in 1944 to treat narcolepsy, barbiturate-induced coma, and depression. (1)

Several years later, people started using it to treat ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder among children. Its popularity grew in 1990 as the public stigma on ADHD diminished due to more studies shedding light to the disorder.

Meanwhile, Adderall is an amphetamine-like drug that can also treat various mental disorders including ADHD.  Shire Pharmaceutical’s subsidiary Richwood Pharmaceuticals created it back in 1996 in its instant-release version. Ever since it has turned to one of the most famous and abused psychoactive drug in the US. (2)

Uses Of Adderall And Methylphenidate

The Food and Drug Administration has given its approval for both Adderall and Methylphenidate as treatments for ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder that results in a person having some difficulty maintaining focus or controlling impulses.

Furthermore, both drugs have sown brain boosting properties. Several clinical trials were able to demonstrate that therapeutic either drug can improve a person’s inhibition control, initiative, working memory, and attention. (3)

Lastly, both drugs can effectively treat Narcolepsy in patients. However, this use may only be a side effect of both drugs due to their stimulating properties. Nevertheless, a patient will experience only minimal harm if he uses the drugs by a physician’s prescription.

Listed below are some uses exclusive to each drug:


  • Depression: Methylphenidate was created to treat depression in patients. Furthermore, studies have shown that the drug works best with patients who experience depression due to stroke, cancer, and HIV. (4)


  • Improve Physical Performance: Research has shown that amphetamines like Adderall can improve the physical performance of athletes and individuals. Hence, most sports commissions have banned the drug to avoid cheating.

Side Effects Of Adderall And Methylphenidate

Clinical trials have shown that Adderall can cause its users to experience hypertension or hypotension, Raynaud’s phenomenon (reduced blood flow to the hands and feet), and increased heart rate.

Furthermore, other studies were able to show that other common side effects of the drug include appetite loss, abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss. Some sexual side effects may also include erectile dysfunction or prolonged erections.

On the other hand, Methylphenidate users may experience some degree of dry mouth, appetite loss, nausea, anxiety/nervousness, and insomnia. The patient may also experience abdominal pain and weight loss while undergoing treatment with the drug.

The US’ Food and Drug Administration has placed both drugs under the Schedule II category for psychoactive drugs. This means that there is a risk of addiction and abuse when a patient misuses either drug. Make sure to take Methylphenidate and Adderall only in accordance with your doctor’s prescription to avoid any adverse effects or addiction.

Effect On Pregnant Women

The US FDA has given both Methylphenidate and Adderall a category C with regards to pregnancy. This means, only animal studies were able to show significant adverse effects on developing fetuses. Furthermore, more human studies are needed to fully establish the consequences of the drugs on unborn human fetuses.

Can Adderall And Methylphenidate Be Taken Together?

Adderall and Methylphenidate are both stimulant drugs. Hence, taking them at the same time may increase the risk of adverse side effects. Furthermore, there have been reports of people experiencing intense palpitations a few hours after taking both drugs together.

Taking the two drugs together can also increase the risk of tolerance and addiction as both drugs can be highly addictive is misused. Remember to take drugs only as prescribed by your physician. Lastly, avoid experimenting with any drug with the prior approval of a trained medical professional.

Also Read: Focalin Vs Adderall


Leandro Panizzon et al. Pyridine and piperidine compounds U.S. Patent 2,507,631 Issue date: 16 May 1950

Leonard BE, McCartan D, White J, King DJ (2004). “Methylphenidate: a review of its neuropharmacological, neuropsychological and adverse clinical effects.” Hum Psychopharmacol. 19 (3): 151–80.

Ilieva IP, Hook CJ, Farah MJ (January 2015). “Prescription Stimulants’ Effects on Healthy Inhibitory Control, Working Memory, and Episodic Memory: A Meta-analysis.” J. Cogn. Neurosci. 27: 1–21.