Adderall is an FDA-approved medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It helps people with ADHD better focus and reduce hyperactivity and impulsiveness. When it comes to anxiety, its symptoms can become worse after long-term Adderall use. It happens because the medication can produce side effects similar to ADHD symptoms, including irritability, restlessness, and nervousness. Keep reading to discover whether you can use Adderall for anxiety relief or if it will only exacerbate symptoms.
An Overview of Anxiety
According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety is a fairly common condition that affects 40 million adults in the USA. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. The most common one is GAD, which is diagnosed when individuals experience trouble controlling their anxiety over six months and have other related symptoms.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Increased heart rate
- Stomach issues
- Difficulty sleeping
Adderall: Uses and Effects
The Adderall prescription medication contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is a controlled substance that falls under a class of drugs known as central nervous system stimulants. The medication works by altering norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. It activates the sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response.
While Adderall is helpful, it has some side effects, which are listed below:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
Other intense side effects include:
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Worsened mental health conditions
- Heart attack
Individuals with a higher risk of experiencing these side effects include those with:
- Other mental health conditions
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol use disorder
- Substance use disorder
Additionally, individuals who suddenly stop taking Adderall may experience withdrawal symptoms. People going through this should speak with a medical professional to find a plan that helps them wean off the medication.
Does Adderall Help With Anxiety?
Whether Adderall can help with anxiety is a bit of a complicated question. In some individuals, it can help with anxiety; however, there is the chance that it can also contribute to or cause anxiety symptoms.
People with anxiety caused by ADHD may benefit from Adderall because it is designed to increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter intended to improve focus. Increasing dopamine concentration in the body helps individuals with anxiety feel calmer and at ease.
Can Adderall Cause Anxiety?
Individuals who take Adderall and don’t have ADHD could experience increased anxiety symptoms. This happens because Adderall is a stimulant that makes individuals without ADHD feel nervous or jittery.
However, a study on 13 individuals without ADHD determined that Adderall didn’t impact their neurocognitive performance. On the other hand, misusing stimulants can worsen anxiety symptoms.
Managing ADHD and Anxiety
Managing ADHD and anxiety is crucial for individuals with both conditions. Often, medical practitioners begin with treating the disease that affects a patient’s life most before treating the other. Usually, doctors suggest different options when treating these two disorders. For example, they might prescribe stimulant medication for ADHD and opt for therapy and specific anti-anxiety drugs when treating anxiety.
Doctors monitor a patient’s symptoms and progress to determine what treatments work best and make necessary changes if the symptoms don’t improve. They’ll consider the patient’s symptoms and lifestyle to choose a unique treatment plan that fits their situation.
Common medications prescribed to treat anxiety include benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Zoloft and Prozac), and beta-blockers (Propranolol). Some medicines help manage anxiety symptoms quickly and are suitable for short-term treatment. Others reach their effects within a few weeks and require more prolonged treatment.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is among the common non-medical approaches to treating anxiety. It helps identify factors adding to anxiety and determine ways to minimize them. For some anxiety disorders, exposure therapy can be recommended. In addition, therapy can be combined with medication for better results.
Stress Management Techniques
Individuals with anxiety can also learn stress management techniques to better cope with anxiety triggers. It can be deep breathing, yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. All these techniques work better when paired with medication or therapy.
Conclusion: Can Adderall Help With Anxiety?
Adderall isn’t the best solution for individuals with anxiety disorders because it is primarily used to treat ADHD. Many other medications are better suited for anxiety treatment. Moreover, the link between Adderall and anxiety is still unclear. Some patients with ADHD-caused anxiety may notice their symptoms reduce when they take Adderall, but those dealing with anxiety without ADHD should seek other treatment options.
Individuals with ADHD and anxiety should consider speaking with a qualified medical professional for help. A doctor can determine the proper medication and develop a treatment plan for unique symptoms.