Before addressing Adderall and bipolar disorder, it is important to fully understand what bipolar disorder is. Bipolar disorder, previously referred to as manic depressive disorder, is characterized by the presence of manic episodes and depressive episodes. Each may last for days or even weeks. Noticeable changes in behavior coincide with each type of episode.

Manic episodes may include:

  • Feeling extremely energized
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Increased activity level
  • Talking at a rapid pace, often in a tangent
  • Increased agitation
  • Racing thoughts
  • Extreme multitasking
  • Increased high-risk behaviors

Depressive episodes may include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Lack of pleasure
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide

When using medications like Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Ritalin or Adderall,  bipolar symptoms may be influenced and exaggerated. Some medications, especially stimulants like Adderall may induce a depressive or manic episode. If a history of bipolar disorder is present, medication should be carefully considered to avoid worsening symptoms.

Can Adderall Help with Bipolar Symptoms?

Patients living with bipolar disorder experiencing depressive episodes are likely to crave the euphoric feelings and sense of invincibility experienced during manic episodes. It is common for a person with bipolar disorder currently in a depressive episode to search for ways to induce a manic episode. Using stimulant drugs may have this effect or at least mimic a manic episode by increasing energy, focus and feelings of being powerful. An example of this type of stimulant drug is Adderall, which is often viewed as a relatively harmless drug because it is a prescription medication. However, when Adderall isn’t used according to a physician’s prescription it can be highly addictive.

Using Adderall to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Someone with bipolar disorder who experiences frequent depressive episodes may wonder about possible ways to improve their mood including :

  • “Can Adderall be used for bipolar disorder treatment?”
  • “Is Adderall for bipolar depressive episodes?”
  • “Is Adderall used to treat bipolar disorder mood swings?”

While people experiencing depressive episodes may want Adderall used for bipolar disorder to provide relief, using Adderall for bipolar patients can be risky. Someone with co-occurring bipolar and Adderall use disorder is likely to have more severe mood swings.

Adderall can induce a manic state initially but over time the experience of euphoric feelings while high decreases. People living with bipolar disorder who use Adderall or other stimulants chronically can induce states where the energy of manic episode is present in addition to the negative feelings and paranoia of depressive episodes.

Adderall Abuse and Bipolar Side Effects

Co-Occurring bipolar and Adderall use disorder side effects can be serious. Someone who uses Adderall and has a bipolar disorder is also more likely to experience longer and more intense depressive episodes.

Patients with co-occurring Adderall use and bipolar disorder are at higher risk of suicidal ideation and attempts. Adderall use may cause more rapidly cycling changes between manic and depressive states.

Adderall Abuse and Bipolar Treatment

Bipolar and Adderall use disorders can be difficult to treat when combined. Treatment for both disorders should occur simultaneously. Proper medication management for bipolar disorder is important for effective treatment outcomes because a bipolar depressive episode may be a trigger for Adderall abuse setbacks.

Key Points: Adderall Use and Bipolar

Some relevant facts to remember about bipolar and Adderall use disorders include:          

  • Treating bipolar disorder and a co-occurring substance use disorder requires a trained professional.
  • Co-Occurring bipolar and Adderall use disorder side effects can be serious   
  • Patients with co-occurring Adderall use and bipolar disorder are at higher risk of suicidal ideation and attempts.
  • Treatment for both Bipolar and Adderall use disorder should occur simultaneously        

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder, help is available at treatment centers across the country. The Recovery Village offers comprehensive treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders. For more information about our care options, reach out to a representative today.


Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Facing The Diagnostic Challenge of Comorbid Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. (2016, March 11). Retrieved from

Gonzalez, R., & Suppes, T. (2018, April 16). Stimulants for adult bipolar disorder? Retrieved from

Perugi, G., Vannucchi, G., Bedani, F. et al. Curr Psychiatry Rep (2017) 19: 7.

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.

Share on Social Media: