Does Adderall Cause Depression?

Adderall is a prescription medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but which has a number of negative side effects, especially when abused at high doses. Side effects can include depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on November 9, 2022

Adderall is a brand name prescription stimulant that is used for managing ADHD symptoms and also in the treatment of narcolepsy. Other ADHD medications include Ritalin and Vyvanse.

When Adderall or other stimulant medications are used as prescribed and directed, the side effects are minimal — including those related to depression and anxiety.

When a person misuses the medication and takes it in higher doses or more frequently than directed, they are more likely to experience negative Adderall side effects, such as depression.

While Adderall only causes depression in rare instances, a person who is abusing Adderall or experiencing withdrawal may find themselves more likely to experience depression.

There is also evidence to suggest that people who are already experiencing depression are more likely to abuse Adderall and other drugs to begin with.

Extended abuse of Adderall can change a person’s brain chemistry in significant ways. When a person stops taking the drug abruptly, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

One such symptom of withdrawal is depression, as abruptly stopping Adderall use depletes the central nervous system of dopamine and norepinephrine, two very important neurotransmitters.

A deficiency in dopamine in particular, has been linked to depression, although the association needs to be studied more.

How To Avoid Depression While Taking Adderall

Most of the time when a person is first starting on Adderall, their doctor will start them on the lowest dose possible, and only increase when and if it becomes necessary.

On the other hand, when someone is going off Adderall, their healthcare provider will usually have them taper off of the drug slowly to minimize potential Adderall withdrawal symptoms.

Both of these techniques, when used in combination, can minimize side effects of the drug and withdrawal symptoms as well.

It can also be helpful for a person to let their physician know if they are taking any other medications or supplements, or if they have a history of mental or behavioral health disorders.

A person with a history of mental health conditions, especially bipolar disorder, may want to stay off Adderall entirely and discuss alternatives with their physician.

Other Risks And Side Effects Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse does not just affect a person’s mental health, but can also affect their physical health and well-being.

Side effects of Adderall abuse can include:

  • racing heart rate
  • excessive sweating
  • dilated pupils
  • loss of appetite
  • mood swings
  • cravings
  • weight loss
  • flushed skin
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • addiction

Over time, abusing Adderall can increase a person’s risk of psychosis, heart attack, stroke, and even sudden death from hyperthermia.

The Link Between Adderall-Induced Depression And Withdrawal

It is a common misconception that Adderall can lessen symptoms of depression, because of the feelings of euphoria that it can cause while actively taking it.

While someone might feel better and less depressed in the short term after taking Adderall, they are only potentially making their situation and discomfort worse in the long term.

The more heavily a person uses stimulant drugs in order to combat the negative side effects, the stronger the side effects will be the next time that person experiences a crash and comedown.

With continued misuse and abuse, symptoms of anxiety and depression will become stronger and can lead to the person experiencing panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts, particularly during Adderall withdrawal.

Treatment Services For Adderall-Induced Depression And Addiction

If someone is experiencing depression as a result of Adderall addiction, professional therapy and counseling can be very beneficial.

Dual diagnosis treatment can be particularly helpful, as it works to address co-occurring disorders that a person might have, such as bipolar disorder or anxiety disorder.

Treatment options for Adderall drug use may also include prescribed antidepressants or sleep aids.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

While we specialize in early recovery at Bedrock Recovery Center, we can assist you no matter what stage of substance abuse recovery you are in.

Whether the help you are looking for is for you or one of your loved ones, recovery is just a phone call away.

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  2. Medical News Today
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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