Concerta (methylphenidate) is a brand-name oral tablet that’s prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As with other drugs, Concerta can cause side effects, which may be different in adults and children.
Concerta belongs to a drug class called stimulants. The drug is available in a generic version. Concerta is available as an extended-release tablet.
Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects of Concerta. For a general overview of the drug, including details about its uses, see this article.
Concerta can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if they last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Concerta in clinical studies:
Mild side effects can occur when taking Concerta. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Concerta’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects that have been reported with Concerta include:
- decreased appetite
- dry mouth
- abdominal pain
- increased sweating
- weight loss
- decreased libido*
- upper abdominal pain, in children
- feeling more tired than usual
These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Concerta and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.
* For more information, see the “Side effect specifics” section below.
Concerta may cause serious side effects. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Concerta’s prescribing information.
If you develop serious side effects while taking Concerta, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects that have been reported and their symptoms include:
- Heart-related problems, including stroke and heart attack. Symptoms can include:
- Seizures. Symptoms can include:
- Psychiatric problems. Symptoms can include:
- aggression or hostility
- feeling depressed
- Priapism. Symptoms can include:
- erection lasting longer than 4 hours
- having pain with an erection
- Problems with circulation in your fingers and toes. Symptoms can include:
- fingers or toes that are very pale or blue in color
- tingling or numbness in fingers or toes
- Vision changes. Symptoms can include:
- blurred vision
- trouble focusing on objects close or far away
- Slowed growth rate in children. Symptoms can include:
- lower height compared to average for age
- lower weight compared to average for age
- Drug dependence.*†
- Allergic reaction.†
* Concerta has a
† For more information, see the “Side effect specifics” section below.
Side effects of Concerta in children and adults are similar. However, children taking the drug in clinical studies were more likely to have upper abdominal pain. This side effect was common in this age group. But upper abdominal pain was extremely rare in clinical studies of adults taking Concerta.
Other side effects reported in children, but not adults, taking Concerta include:
However, these side effects were not common in children taking Concerta.
If you have additional questions about how side effects in children compare with those seen in adults, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also view Concerta’s prescribing information to view a full list of side effects reported by children and adults in clinical studies.
Concerta may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.
Does Concerta cause side effects that are long term?
In rare cases, taking Concerta can cause long-term side effects. For example, if you have a heart attack, you’ll need to take medications long term to help prevent another one. Stroke, a rare but serious side effect of Concerta, can also cause long-term damage.
Most side effects caused by Concerta are temporary and should go away after a few days or weeks.
If you have side effects that don’t go away, bother you, or become severe while taking Concerta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can discuss how to manage your side effects. They’ll likely recommend you stop taking Concerta and suggest other treatments for your condition.
Do Concerta’s side effects vary based on the strength I’m taking (18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, 54 mg)?
It’s possible. But clinical studies of Concerta didn’t look at whether side effects varied based on the strength of the drug.
For a full list of side effects reported in these studies, see Concerta’s prescribing information. If you have questions about side effects from Concerta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Are there withdrawal side effects from stopping Concerta?
It’s possible to experience withdrawal side effects from stopping Concerta. Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can occur when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on.
Withdrawal side effects reported when people have stopped taking Concerta include:
- priapism (prolonged, painful erection)
- severe depression, if misused* by taking more Concerta than prescribed over a long period of time
If you’re interested in stopping treatment with Concerta, talk with your doctor. They can help you safely stop taking the drug. Depending on your dose, they may have you slowly decrease your dose over time. This can help prevent withdrawal side effects when stopping your treatment.
* For more information, see the “Concerta and misuse” section below.
What are the side effects of Concerta vs. Strattera?
Concerta and Strattera can cause some similar side effects and others that vary.
Concerta and Strattera are both approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These drugs may cause some of the same mild side effects, including:
Concerta and Strattera can also have different side effects. In clinical studies, people taking Strattera reported urinary hesitancy (trouble starting or maintaining urination). This wasn’t a side effect seen in clinical studies of Concerta.
If you’d like to know more about how Concerta and Strattera are alike and differ, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Learn more about some of the side effects that Concerta may cause.
Concerta can cause side effects that may affect your emotional state. In addition to anger, the drug was also reported to cause:
- frequent or intense changes in emotions or mood
It’s important to note that aggression and hostility are often seen in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can be difficult to distinguish between symptoms related to this condition and side effects caused by medications prescribed to treat it.
What you can do
Talk with your doctor if you experience unusual or increased anger while taking Concerta. They’ll likely recommend you stop taking the medication and suggest alternative treatments for ADHD.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- feelings of hopelessness
- loss of interest in things you typically enjoy
- ongoing feelings of sadness
What you can do
Talk with your doctor right away if you feel depressed or have changes in your mood while taking Concerta. They may want to monitor you more often while you’re taking this medication. They may also recommend stopping treatment with Concerta and trying a different therapy for your ADHD.
Anxiety is another possible side effect that was reported in clinical studies. It’s one of the more common side effects reported by adults. It was also one of the more common side effects that caused people to stop taking Concerta in these studies.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- feeling nervous or restless
- feeling weak or tired
- increased sweating
- trouble concentrating
What you can do
Talk with your doctor right away if you feel increased anxiety or have changes in your mood while taking Concerta. They may want to monitor you more often while you’re taking this medication. They may also recommend stopping treatment with Concerta and trying a different therapy for your ADHD.
It’s possible you’ll have decreased libido from taking Concerta, but this was rare in clinical studies.
With decreased libido, you have a reduction in your sex drive.
What you can do
If you’re concerned about decreased libido while taking Concerta, talk with your doctor. They may recommend ways to treat this side effect. But they may also recommend you stop taking Concerta and try a different treatment for your ADHD.
Concerta has a
Concerta should be taken with caution in people with a history of drug or alcohol dependence. This is because regular use of Concerta can cause dependence. With dependence, your body needs a medication or substance to function like usual. Dependence can cause behavior that is different than usual in some people.
What you can do
Be sure to let your doctor know if you have a history of alcohol or drug dependence before you begin taking Concerta. They may want to monitor you more often while you’re taking this medication.
Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:
- skin rash
- swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
- swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
What you can do
For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, talk with your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep taking Concerta.
If your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.
There are important precautions to consider before you begin taking Concerta. These are discussed in detail below.
Boxed warning: Risk of drug dependence
Concerta has a
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Concerta. This drug may not be the right treatment for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include:
Anxiety or agitation. You should not take Concerta if you have anxiety or agitation, as the medication may worsen these conditions. Talk with your doctor if you have anxiety or agitation or have had these conditions in the past. Your doctor may recommend alternative treatments for your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, you should not take Concerta, as it may worsen this condition. Before starting Concerta, talk with your doctor if you have glaucoma or have had it in the past. Your doctor may recommend alternative treatments for your ADHD.
Tics or Tourette’s syndrome. If you have tics or Tourette’s syndrome, taking Concerta may worsen your symptoms. If you have a family history of either condition, you may have a higher risk of developing tics or Tourette’s syndrome with Concerta. Talk with your doctor if you or your family members have tics or Tourette’s syndrome.
Use of an MAOI drug in the past 14 days. Certain drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) should not be used with Concerta. Taking MAOIs with Concerta can cause a severe increase in blood pressure. This may cause a heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. If you’ve used an MAOI within the past 14 days, talk with your doctor before taking Concerta.
Heart problems. If you have an abnormal heartbeat, coronary artery disease, or other serious heart problems, you should avoid taking Concerta. This is because Concerta may raise your risk for severe side effects, including heart attack, stroke, or sudden death. Before starting Concerta, talk with your doctor about any heart problems you have.
Mental health conditions. Taking Concerta may worsen certain mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and depression. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your mental health before you start taking Concerta.
Seizures. Taking Concerta may increase your risk for seizures if you have a seizure disorder or have had seizures in the past. Talk with your doctor about your complete medical history, including whether you’ve had seizures, before you begin taking Concerta. Your doctor can help determine if Concerta is safe for you.
Circulation problems in your fingers and toes. Treatment with Concerta can cause circulation problems in your fingers and toes. If you already have circulation conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease, you may be at higher risk for this side effect. Before starting Concerta, talk with your doctor about any circulation problems you have.
Certain gastrointestinal problems. If you have narrowing in your intestines or other digestive problems, Concerta may not be safe for you. This is because the tablet may block your intestines after you swallow it. You should be cautious when taking Concerta if you have small bowel inflammatory diseases, short gut syndrome, cystic fibrosis, or motility disorders. Before you begin taking Concerta, talk with your doctor about any gastrointestinal or digestive issues you have.
Allergic reaction. You should not take Concerta if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to Concerta or any of its ingredients. Talk with your doctor about other treatments that might be better choices for you.
Alcohol with Concerta
It’s recommended that you avoid alcohol during your Concerta treatment. Drinking alcohol may increase your risk for certain side effects of Concerta, including:
In addition, you should not take Concerta if you have a history of alcohol dependence. With dependence, your body needs the drug to function like usual.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much alcohol, if any, is safe for you to consume while taking Concerta.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Concerta
Pregnancy. It’s not known if it’s safe to take Concerta during pregnancy. More studies are needed to know if this drug is safe to take while pregnant. Before you start taking Concerta, tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Breastfeeding. It isn’t known if Concerta is safe to take while breastfeeding. This is because it’s unknown whether the drug passes into human breast milk or if it can cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. If you’re breastfeeding or considering it, talk with your doctor. They can talk with you about the risks and benefits of taking Concerta and recommend healthy ways to feed your child.
Misuse refers to using a drug in a way other than how it’s prescribed. With dependence, your body needs the drug to function like usual. And withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can occur when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on.
Concerta is classified as a Schedule II prescription drug. Drugs in this category are considered to have a high risk for misuse.
If you have a history of drug dependence or misuse, your doctor can help determine whether Concerta is safe for you.
Side effects from Concerta aren’t common and are usually mild when they do occur. Most mild side effects tend to go away on their own within a few days to weeks. In rare cases, Concerta can cause some serious side effects that may require treatment. Talk with your doctor if any side effects last, are bothersome, or become serious.
If you’d like to learn more about Concerta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects from taking the drug.
Besides talking with your doctor, you can do some research on your own. These articles might help:
- More information on Concerta. For details on other aspects of Concerta, refer to this article.
- Drug comparison. To learn how Concerta compares with similar drugs, see the following articles:
- Dosage. For information about the dosage of Concerta, view this article.
- Interactions. To find out about Concerta’s interactions, see this article.
- A look at ADHD. For details about ADHD, see our list of related articles. Our mental health hub may also be helpful.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.