Substance Use

Can Adderall Cause Depression?

young man holding pills adderall

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

Adderall and Depression

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or those suffering from narcolepsy might feel symptoms of depression without medication. But can ADHD medication, such as Adderall, actually lead to depression?

Adderall and other prescription stimulants affect neurodivergent people (those with ADHD) differently than neurotypical people (those without ADHD). Depression is one of the central nervous system (CNS) adverse effects the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) listed in its drug labeling for Adderall. When an individual with ADHD takes a stimulant drug exactly as prescribed, depression is a rare side effect, but it is more likely when Adderall is used recreationally

Are you worried that Adderall could be causing your depression? If you believe that you or a loved one is misusing or abusing Adderall, Zinnia Healing can help. We offer inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment options and supportive care for Adderall abuse. Reach out to speak with a caring member of our staff at (855) 430-9439.

How Does Adderall Affect You Mentally?

Adderall and other ADHD medications can relieve ADHD symptoms, helping individuals feel more focused and alert. The active ingredients in Adderall, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, stimulate the brain’s neurotransmitters, resulting in dopamine and norepinephrine release. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates euphoric feelings and can improve a person’s sense of well-being.

Dopamine levels are typically low in people with ADHD. It’s this dopamine deficiency that causes a constant need for stimulation. ADHD medications work by upping dopamine and other neurotransmitter levels. While increasing dopamine may appear counterintuitive, ADHD medication is therapeutic for those with ADHD because these increased neurotransmitters bring their overactive minds into a state of normal stimulation.

For neurotypical individuals, however, the effect is not the same. Adderall’s dopamine boost within a normally functioning brain elicits a state of increased euphoria, wakefulness, and coping ability, which helps explain why this is one of the most misused and abused substances among high school and college students.

Can Adderall Cause Depression?

If a person has mental health issues, Adderall can exacerbate those issues. People diagnosed with psychoses, manias, or depressive disorders, such as bipolar disorder, need to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of adding Adderall to their treatment plan. A person with bipolar disorder requires acute monitoring if prescribed Adderall.

Depression is one of Adderall’s potential side effects. However, as also noted by the FDA, this adverse reaction is not common. Adderall most often can cause depression in those who:

  • Have a history of mental illness or other behavioral symptoms
  • Don’t take it as prescribed
  • Don’t have a prescription

For some patients with a depressive disorder, a doctor might prescribe Adderall to help elevate mood, energy, or focus. This is typically a last resort, however, and only prescribed if a patient has been prescribed other medications and showed no improvement.

Adderall can also lead to depression if someone who’s been prescribed a high dose for a long period of time suddenly stops taking the medication. This situation can also result in extreme lethargy.

What’s the Relationship Between Adderall and Depression?

Adderall is linked with depression in some cases. For instance, doctors might prescribe Adderall against its labeling for patients with co-occurring disorders (depression and ADHD). The idea behind this off-label use is that increased energy and alertness can alleviate depressive symptoms.

Today’s research shows Adderall’s effects on cognitive ability are minimal, but its effects on an individual’s sense of well-being or overall mood are substantial.

Are you worried about your or a loved one’s Adderall use? If you think you might be addicted to Adderall and you’re ready to stop taking it, reach out to one of our caring specialists at (855) 430-9439. Zinnia Healing can help.

How Does Adderall Affect Mood?

Before diving into Adderall’s effects on mood, it’s essential to know some of this medication’s general side effects:

Looking at these side effects, it’s not hard to see how Adderall might affect a person’s mood. Some of the most common changes in mood due to these side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Panic
  • Irritability
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Overall changes in mood not experienced previously

The side effects and withdrawal symptoms a neurotypical person may endure vary between people according to age, dosage, and other criteria, typically subsiding within two weeks from the last time taken. People with ADHD taking Adderall at their prescribed dose might not experience any notable side effects.

People taking Adderall without a prescription might also wonder, “Does Adderall cause mood disorder?” Mood swings or behavioral shifts can accompany the misuse of Adderall. For some individuals, stimulants can even be responsible for panic attacks and the onset of psychoses, such as hallucinations.

What Are the Emotional Side Effects of Adderall?

Aside from the potential for depression, some of the emotional side effects of Adderall can include:

  • Mood shifts
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Anxiety
  • Suspiciousness
  • Suicidal thoughts

These emotional side effects can be attributed to how Adderall changes the chemistry and functions within the brain. Emotional changes can be tough to manage, but worse still is the bodily damage Adderall can do, such as heart, stomach, and liver problems.

Taking more Adderall than your prescribed dose or taking Adderall without a prescription can lead to dependency and addiction.

Does Adderall Make Depression Go Away?

If your doctor prescribes Adderall with one or more antidepressant medications, you may see improvements in your energy and activity levels, moods, and overall feelings of well-being. That said, Adderall for the treatment of depression is an off-label use. There aren’t enough studies yet to support the benefits of Adderall for depression in light of the potential for drastic side effects.

Did your doctor prescribe Adderall for ADHD maintenance and you’re ready to taper off? Or did you begin taking Adderall without a prescription to help you stay focused at work or school and you want to stop taking it? Zinnia Healing can help. Call our caring specialists at (855) 430-9439. If you’re not ready to chat on the phone, contact us online.

Related Articles