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Central nervous system stimulant drugs

Central nervous system stimulant drugs are used to increase mental alertness and wakefulness.

Common drugs

Nervous system stimulant drugs
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  • Caffeine
  • Dexamfetamine
  • Methylphenidate
  • Modafinil

Central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drugs act by increasing activity in the brain, which increases wakefulness and mental alertness. Their main use is in the treatment of narcolepsy, a disorder in which a person experiences recurrent episodes of involuntary sleep during the day. Some CNS stimulants, including methylphenidate, are used to improve the attention span of children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

How do central nervous system stimulant drugs work?

CNS stimulants improve concentration and increase wakefulness by acting on a part of the brain that regulates mental alertness. These stimulants promote the release of certain chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) that increase nerve activity in this part of the brain.

How are central nervous system stimulant drugs used?

CNS stimulants are given orally longterm for the treatment of narcolepsy. Doctors avoid prescribing CNS stimulants over a prolonged period for a child because they may slow growth. Children taking methylphenidate may need to have blood tests at regular intervals, because this drug can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, thereby increasing the risk of infection.

What are the side effects of central nervous system stimulant drugs?

While you are taking CNS stimulants, you may experience reduced appetite, tremor, and palpitations. These drugs can also cause restlessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, shaking, and sweating. Some CNS stimulants produce symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations. Other side effects include rashes and allergies. If you take a CNS stimulant long-term, stopping treatment may cause withdrawal symptoms, including lethargy, depression, and increased appetite.

Posted 09.09.2010

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