Many people with depression turn to the prescription stimulant Adderall to reduce their negative thoughts and feelings. However, Adderall and depression isn’t an ideal combination. For some, Adderall for depression can result in depressive feelings.
Adderall and depression are closely related. Depression can affect the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. According to the Child Mind Institute, a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who receives a high dosage of Adderall can exhibit sad or listless behaviors.
However, the organization also states that about 5 percent of children prescribed Adderall deal with depression after taking the stimulant at recommended doses. The depression can subside upon cessation from Adderall.
Does Adderall cause depression in adults? According to Healthline, adults can experience depression once the effects of Adderall fade. Depression is also an Adderall withdrawal symptom. This means that someone addicted to Adderall can feel depressed if they suddenly stop using it.
Research promoting Adderall as an effective treatment for depression is anecdotal and outdated. Adderall and other prescription stimulants are intended to treat ADHD rather than depression. A medical professional can talk to people about proper treatments for depression.
Self-medicating with Adderall to reduce symptoms of depression can increase a person’s tolerance to the drug. An increased tolerance can cause people to want to take more of the drug to experience its effects. Abusing Adderall can lead to the development of a substance use disorder.
According to a 1999 study published in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, taking both antidepressants and psychostimulants like Adderall reduced symptoms of depression. However, the study included just 65 participants.
As of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Adderall as a treatment for depression. Instead, the FDA warns that Adderall can lead to depression. People who deal with depression should speak with their doctor before taking medications to reduce negative feelings.
The amount of Adderall that someone should take depends on individual factors. Factors that influence an Adderall dosage for people with depression include:
- A person’s history of taking prescription stimulants
- The existence of additional mental health disorders, like anxiety
- Genetic factors, including a person’s metabolism
While the drug can stimulate the central nervous system, Adderall is addictive and can harm a person’s health. People who abuse the substance can develop a drug addiction.
If you experience Adderall withdrawal, speak with a medical professional. A doctor can monitor you as you stop using the drug after extensive use. This person can identify signs of depression and suicidal ideations. If needed, a doctor might recommend treatment.
People with co-occurring disorders that involve Adderall and depression should receive treatment for both disorders. Treating one disorder without addressing the other can impede a person’s chances of reaching recovery.
Treatment for Adderall addiction typically involves inpatient treatment if the substance use disorder is severe. Outpatient rehab may be an effective option for people who are dependent on, but not addicted to, Adderall. Rehab for Adderall addiction and depression usually incorporates psychotherapy and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Depression treatment can involve cognitive behavioral therapy and MAT. Medications used to treat depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like Prozac, and antidepressants. However, some antidepressants are addictive.
Important points to remember about Adderall addiction, depression and co-occurring disorders include:
- Failing to take Adderall as directed by a doctor can lead to depression
- Adderall is not an FDA-approved treatment for depression
- If you have depression, talk to your doctor about evidence-based treatments for depression
- Co-occurring disorders involving depression and Adderall addiction should be treated simultaneously
Bramness, Jørgen G. “Amphetamine-induced psychosis – a separate diagnostic entity or primary psychosis triggered in the vulnerable?”www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, December 5th, 2012. November 28th, 2018.
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). “Psychosis with Coexisting Substance Misuse”. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2011. November 28th, 2018.
Regier Darrel A., MD, MPH; Mary E. Farmer, MD, MPH; Donald S. Rae, MS; et al. “Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse. Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study”ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed, November 20th, 1991. November 28th, 2018.
Wade, D. “Substance misuse in first-episode psychosis: 15-month prospective follow-up study”. Cambridge University Press, September 2006. November 28th, 2018.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.