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What is an ADHD Patch?

Anna T.
Anna T.

An ADHD patch is a small adhesive worn on the skin to medicate someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, throughout the day. In most cases, the patch should be worn for up to nine hours at a time. After the patch is removed, the medication typically stays in the system for two or three more hours. This patch was designed for children who are not able to take oral medications for ADHD. Children who have trouble swallowing pills or are afraid to try to swallow a pill may be able to wear this patch and get the same benefits of other prescription ADHD medicine.

The ADHD patch contains methylphenidate, which is also the active ingredient in most other ADHD medications. There was some cause for concern when the patch was initially released because experts believed it had more risks associated with wearing it than other drugs prescribed for ADHD. It was finally determined that these risks were no greater than the ones associated with prescription ADHD medication and that it should be beneficial for children suffering from ADHD to wear. When the patch was first released, it was designed to be worn for 12 hours, but has since been redesigned to be worn for only nine hours.

A child with ADHD playing.
A child with ADHD playing.

Some of the more common side effects associated with wearing the ADHD patch may include skin irritation, weight loss, and insomnia. Some children who wear the patch also develop cold-like symptoms and may feel nauseous. Other side effects of wearing the patch that are generally considered serious may include depression, vision problems, and persistent headaches. Possible problems that should be brought to a doctor's attention also include irregular heartbeat, seizures, and excessive anxiety. Parents should pay close attention to how their children react to the ADHD patch, particularly during the first few days of use, to be sure that no serious side effects are going to occur.

In most cases, a patient who is unable to use the ADHD patch is not advised to stop using it all at once. Doctors typically recommend that an ADHD patient is weaned off the patch slowly. This is often done by lowering the dosage over a short period of time. People who quit using the patch all at once may experience negative side effects including mental confusion and severe depression. Parents of a child on the ADHD patch should speak with a doctor if it appears the child cannot use the patch, and follow the doctor's advice on how to stop using it.

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    • A child with ADHD playing.
      By: Elena Stepanova
      A child with ADHD playing.