Dealing with anxiety disorders can leave people desperate for any form of relief. Unfortunately, people with mental illnesses like anxiety are also more likely to try self-medicating, and many turn to Adderall to manage their symptoms.
Does Adderall benefit people with anxiety — or does the drug simply worsen the symptoms?
This article answers the question while covering what Adderall is, why it is used, and alternative treatments for ADHD and anxiety.
Key Takeaways: Adderall and Anxiety
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a stimulant drug often prescribed in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is a combination of amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and the inactive ingredients colloidal silicon dioxide, cornstarch, magnesium stearate, and compressible sugar, among others.
Although adults can also have ADHD, most people develop the disorder as children or teens. ADHD symptoms include :
- Lack of attention
- Difficulty concentrating
- Regularly losing things
How Does Adderall Work?
As a drug used to treat ADHD, how Adderall works is by acting as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases the production and concentration of the norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters in your brain.
Dopamine plays an essential role in feelings of pleasure, while norepinephrine is an excitatory hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for boosting brain function.
Adderall Side Effects
As with all stimulant drugs, the side effects of Adderall vary from person to person and could range from mild jitters to severe sleeping issues.
Adverse symptoms caused by Adderall use include:
- High blood pressure
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Nervous behavior
- Increased heart rate
Since Adderall can elevate your heart rate, severe side effects of Adderall use could include events like a heart attack or stroke .
As with all potent drugs, Adderall has several contraindications, such as :
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitor treatment for depression or other mental illnesses as this could raise their blood pressure to dangerous levels
- Cardiovascular disease
- Severe hypertension
- People with a history of drug abuse
- People with co-occurring conditions like depression or bipolar disorder
Before taking any drug, especially Adderall, you should always consult with a medical professional to discuss possible side effects and risks considering your medical history.
Does Adderall Help Anxiety?
No, Adderall does not help with anxiety or similar mental health disorders like panic attacks or depression. Using Adderall to treat anxiety could worsen your symptoms as the effects of the drug could enhance your feelings of agitation, nervousness, and paranoia.
Can You Get Prescribed Adderall for Anxiety?
Although some people may be prescribed Adderall to treat an anxiety disorder that exists alongside attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are rarely prescribed as a treatment for anxiety on their own.
Should I Take Adderall If I Have Anxiety?
If you have a mental health condition or one of the many types of anxiety disorders diagnosed in Americans each year, you should not use Adderall as a treatment, whether prescribed by a doctor or not.
Not only can Adderall worsen the symptoms of anxiety, but it has a high potential for abuse and subsequent addiction.
Co-Occurring Anxiety with ADHD and Narcolepsy
Anxiety disorder usually doesn’t occur on its own. Many people who suffer from the condition also have co-occurring disorders like depression, ADHD, panic disorders, or even narcolepsy.
Around 25% of people with ADHD also have anxiety , and another 35% of people with narcolepsy show anxiety symptoms, too . This means people who use Adderall for their ADHD could also be experiencing the negative impact the drug has on their anxiety.
Does Adderall Cause Anxiety?
Not necessarily, since Adderall is often prescribed for ADHD patients to help them calm down and focus. Despite Adderall not directly causing an anxiety disorder, it could make pre-existing anxiety symptoms worse .
Since one of the neurotransmitters triggered by using Adderall is an excitatory hormone, using the drug could not only get you more worked up and make your anxiety worse, it could contribute to the development of a panic disorder and related panic attacks when used to treat anxiety symptoms.
Adderall and ADHD Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly half of the population of American adults diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also have some type or form of anxiety .
Does Adderall Help With ADHD Anxiety?
In many ways taking Adderall can help with anxiety symptoms if they are related to your ADHD. Struggling with ADHD means you might feel like you have no ownership over your brain, and you are constantly subject to the thoughts and impulses that pop into your head.
Although Adderall and anxiety aren’t a good mix on their own, using the drug to deal with your ADHD could help your mind feel clear enough to reduce many of the symptoms of anxiety you would previously have had no control over.
Which ADHD Medication Causes The Least Anxiety?
The stimulant with the least side effects is methylphenidate or Ritalin, most often prescribed for children and teenagers and least likely to cause anxiety.
Managing Adderall Related Anxiety
The mood disturbances caused by using or abusing Adderall can vary in severity but are often quite challenging to cope with. Thankfully there are several ways to deal with Adderall-related anxiety, the best of which are discussed below.
Anti-anxiety medication is often the first choice when managing anxiety caused by Adderall use, dealing with anxiety-related mental health issues, or simply when people feel anxious for no apparent reason.
The most commonly prescribed drugs for quick treatment of anxiety symptoms are called benzodiazepines and include:
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (Lorazepam)
Some medications for high blood pressure also have off-label benefits for treating anxiety or panic disorders.
If you are struggling with a mental health condition or are looking for other drugs than Adderall to help with your ADHD, there are a range of natural treatment options that may be more beneficial to your long-term recovery, especially considering Adderall abuse may eventually lead to addiction.
The alternative supplements for treating the symptoms of ADHD or anxiety are called nootropics. They are natural supplements that act as cognitive enhancers and can boost your motivation, focus, memory, and learning abilities to help counteract the adverse effects of these disorders.
One of the best nootropics available, Mind Lab Pro, is a Universal Nootropic with research-backed ingredients like citicoline and phosphatidylserine, both of which are proven to enhance brain regeneration while boosting your mental energy levels, thought clarity, and attention.
Another excellent option, Performance Lab Nootropics, contains four nootropic ingredients, including maritime pine bark and L-tyrosine, both of which significantly improve your cognitive function and boost the sectors of your brain most often affected by ADHD.
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Adderall and anxiety.
Is Adderall Addictive?
Using Adderall for an extended period or taking it as a dual diagnosis treatment without a doctor’s prescription could lead to addiction and the possible development of other substance use disorders.
Adderall abuse can quickly cause your body to become dependent on the drug, meaning you can’t function normally without it. Once you develop this physical and psychological dependence, you may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms between doses, leading to a full-blown Adderall addiction.
For many, an Adderall crash can become so severe it leads to suicidal thoughts, extreme mood swings, and depression.
Getting addiction treatment if you believe you are abusing or are addicted to the drug is essential, and if you think your loved one may be misusing Adderall or prescription stimulants of any kind, you should encourage them to seek counseling and addiction treatment
addiction treatment to help them recover.
Does Adderall Have a Calming Effect?
Most ADHD drugs like Adderall are stimulants, meaning they increase your energy and feelings of excitement, confidence, and focus. If you don’t have ADHD, Adderall will only rile you up, not calm you down.
Can Stimulants Help With Anxiety?
In most cases, stimulants like Adderall and caffeine will only result in increased anxiety symptoms. These drugs are not prescribed for the treatment of any mental health disorder, only for the treatment of ADHD and similar conditions.
Does Adderall Help With Stress and Anxiety?
No, Adderall increases the negative feelings associated with these conditions as it is a central nervous system stimulant, not a sedative.
What Is the Best Drug For Severe Anxiety?
Severe anxiety is a mental health disorder best treated with prescription medication like Xanax for immediate relief. Long-term recovery may involve therapy alongside other longer-acting drugs.
Does Adderall Help With Depression?
No, using or abusing Adderall could lead to withdrawal symptoms that could worsen your depression and mental health by producing negative feelings and thoughts.
Trying to treat a mental illness can be challenging. Although Adderall use is adequate in managing ADHD, it does not benefit people with anxiety.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek therapy and medication made specifically for your condition, as in many cases misusing Adderall could lead to addiction and a range of adverse effects on your mental health.
And if you’re looking for a holistic, natural aid to relieve your symptoms, nootropics could help you combat ADHD and anxiety without using synthetic drugs like Adderall.
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