Does Adderall Help OCD?

Adderall is a stimulant medication, typically prescribed in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are very different disorders, they can produce symptoms that resemble each other in a variety of ways. Without proper tests, physicians sometimes mistake OCD for ADHD or vice versa. According to the results of a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology in late 2012, this used to be a common mistake made during initial patient assessments. This mistaken diagnosis can be quite bad for a patient with OCD.

Can Adderall Cause OCD Symptoms?

In some cases, stimulant medications, such as Adderall, can exacerbate or cause symptoms of OCD. An OCD patient who is prescribed Adderall may experience serious problems and worsening OCD symptoms. Some studies have also shown that children with ADHD who have taken Adderall for six months or more begin to show signs of OCD.

Adderall and OCD Side Effects

Side effects of Adderall use for a person with OCD can be challenging. If the person has co-occurring OCD and ADHD, Adderall may be necessary to reduce ADHD symptoms. Adderall can help a person with ADHD focus on completing tasks and allow them to concentrate more easily. However, the effect is different on a person without ADHD who is not already hyperactive or has uncontrolled thought processes.

For a person with OCD, Adderall may create more restlessness and irritability that is already present. OCD patients may become more agitated about their compulsions and focus more energy on obsessing over these compulsions. Some other effects that can occur may include:

  • Nervousness
  • Excitability
  • Increased fear, possibly over situations the patient is already obsessing over
  • Increased or added anxiety
  • Sleep problems

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Adderall Addiction and OCD

Addiction may accompany OCD, which can worsen the symptoms of the condition, even though the patient may be prescribed the medication to get relief from undesired symptoms. A person may be diagnosed with an Adderall use disorder if they are unable to control the use of the substance, experience social impairment, use substances in spite of risks or harm and experience tolerance and withdrawal.

Diagnosing co-occurring disorders can be difficult because the two conditions affect each other. It is often challenging to distinguish between real OCD and symptoms triggered by Adderall use. It is always important to obtain treatment for OCD and addiction at the same time. Treating one but not the other may increase the chances of relapse and the need for additional treatment in the future.

Key Points: OCD and Adderall

  • OCD can significantly impede a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks.
  • When addiction to Adderall is combined with OCD, normal functioning can become even more difficult.
  • Adderall may be prescribed to patients with OCD if proper tests are not completed because OCD and ADHD exhibit similar symptoms.
  • Adderall can seriously worsen the symptoms of OCD.

Addiction to Adderall combined with OCD only adds to the risk. If you are or a loved one is in need of help or assistance in treatment, The Recovery Village can help. Individuals who struggle with symptoms of OCD and Adderall addiction can receive help from our experienced medical team. If you or a loved one suffers from OCD, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative to begin your journey in finding the right treatment program for you.

Psychiatry Online. “Dexamphetamine for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” Psychiatry January 2003, Accessed December 2018
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