Adderall & Anxiety: Does Adderall Help or Worsen Anxiety?

June 11, 2021


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects more than half of U.S adults. In some situations, ADHD co-exists with other forms of anxiety, making it difficult for the affected persons to function normally. Generally, anxiety is a type of mental disorder characterized by fear and excessive worrying. This makes it difficult for the affected persons to control their attention, and they are impulsive and hyperactive.

However, most people don’t understand what’s the link between anxiety and ADHD. Generally, while ADHD cannot cause anxiety, it is a predisposing factor to anxiety disorders. As such, symptoms of both conditions may overlap, making it difficult to know if someone with ADHD has anxiety disorders. That said, Adderall is a drug of choice prescribed for patients with these conditions.

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What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant popularly used to treat ADHD and sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. The drug is made from a combination of Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine and is effective in enhancing mood. Its chemical formula is akin to MDMA and Methamphetamine, commonly known by its street name Ecstasy.


What Does Adderall Do?

When taken in therapeutic doses, Adderall improves attention span and enables one to concentrate for longer periods. It also helps patients with narcolepsy stay awake for prolonged periods. Doses of Adderall range between 5mg to 30mg and can be taken either once or twice per day.

Unfortunately, Adderall has become a recreational drug for most users because of its stimulating effects, especially for high school and college students. Abusing them gives them a sense of power that boosts their academic and sports performance. The drug also appeals to those with eating disorders looking to curb their appetites.

Side effects of Adderall include restlessness, headache, dizziness, slowed speech, dry mouth, and excessive sleep. Severe effects of Adderall include seizures, hallucinations, and worsening mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.


Anxiety Disorders
Major Types of Anxiety Disorders


Does Adderall Cause Anxiety?

Prescribing Adderall for anxiety is not common in medical setups. ADAA research notes that using a stimulant, non-stimulant, and non-medical treatment for ADHD and anxiety can help patients improve their attention, concentration, and control impulsiveness. However, since medications react differently with different patients, it is possible for patients under Adderall treatment to feel more anxious when taking drugs to treat ADHD.

If the patient feels more anxious, this increases their forgetfulness and impair their focusing ability. Essentially, ADHD drugs increase brain functioning and alter how messages are sent between nerve cells, which can cause mood disturbance, such as anxiety. This primarily occurs if Adderall is taken in high doses.


Does Adderall Help with Anxiety?

More than half of ADHD patients also experience anxiety disorders. This justifies why most doctors and patients prefer Adderall for ADHD when they have anxiety. Typical ADHD symptoms include distractions, lack of focus, and continuous worrying. Continuous ADHD treatment has proved that anxiety and ADHD are closely associated.

While Adderall isn’t an anti-anxiety drug, it is a stimulant that enhances a person’s motivation, mood, attention span, and energy. More studies on the effectiveness of Adderall for anxiety are still ongoing.

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Does Adderall Affect Women Differently?

Women’s brains react differently to Amphetamines like Adderall. Several studies have shown that Adderall has profound effects on men’s brains than women’s. Men are more prone to Adderall abuse and addiction compared to women. Fortunately, rehabilitation can be done through medication-assisted treatment programs for those with addiction.


Treating Adderall Abuse and Anxiety as Co-Occurring Conditions

Addiction to Adderall isn’t the same as addiction to any other drug. Signs of Adderall addiction include talking excessively, social withdrawal, aggression, fatigue or exhaustion, excessive sleeping, and unusual excitability. Affected persons may also lose weight dramatically, demonstrate impulsive behavior, and suffer from financial and relationship problems.

Approximately 60 to 80% of ADHD patients often have co-existing disorders, especially anxiety, which makes treatment of ADHD difficult. As such, healthcare service providers usually try to find the source of these problems, at work, school, or family, before prescribing the appropriate treatment.

Like with other drugs, Adderall effects are not permanent. Patients can continue using the drug if they want to experience increased energy, self-confidence, and attention. However, if someone develops anxiety due to Adderall, they should consult with their physicians on the best way of managing anxiety. Anti-anxiety drugs, such as Valium and Xanax, can help. However, if the use of Adderall is the primary cause of anxiety, the drug may be stopped.

Doctors may also recommend CBT and Adderall for anxiety and ADHD patients. CBT or cognitive behavior therapy is effective in calming the symptoms of anxiety. The therapy helps identify and understand individual thinking patterns, and benefits can be realized after 12 to 16 weeks.


Precautions About Adderall


Non-Stimulant and Non-Medical Treatment for ADHD and Anxiety

Most doctors prescribe stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD. However, non-stimulant drugs, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medications, can also help alleviate symptoms of ADHD. For best results, patients should consult with medical professionals before using any medication, especially if the drugs can potentially worsen the condition.

It is worth noting that the side effects of Adderall resemble those of other stimulant drugs. Therefore, patients may experience these side effects, even when taking the normal doses of Adderall. Any escalating side effects should be discussed with health care professionals.

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Get Professional Help

If you or your loved one is struggling with anxiety, ADHD, or Adderall addiction, a formal treatment plan might be beneficial. Medically instituted detox programs are safe and effective in treating ADHD, anxiety, and Adderall withdrawal.

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