Ritalin and other brands of methylphenidate are mild central nervous system stimulants used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. With the exception of Concerta and Metadate CD, these products are also used in adults to treat narcolepsy (an uncontrollable desire to sleep).

When given for attention deficit disorder, this drug should be an integral part of a total treatment program that includes psychological, educational, and social measures. Symptoms of attention deficit disorder include continual problems with moderate to severe distractibility, short attention span, hyperactivity, emotional changeability, and impulsiveness.