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Does Adderall Abuse Trigger Anxiety?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 28, 2019

Adderall is a prescription stimulant that comes with many potential side effects including anxiety. Addiction to Adderall may worsen anxiety and a formal treatment program may be needed to overcome Adderall dependence.

Adderall is a common prescription medication used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat certain sleep disorders such as narcolepsy.

Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and belongs to the stimulant class of drugs. Effects of Adderall may include increased energy, concentration, and focus. It can also help control certain behavior problems often associated with ADHD.

Adderall is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. Abusing this drug can have a number of adverse effects, one of them being anxiety.

Does Adderall Abuse Cause Anxiety?

Adderall is a central nervous stimulant that works by increasing chemicals in the brain. These chemicals include dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. An increase in these neurotransmitters can cause excitement of brain activity. This can result in anxiety.

Additionally, because Adderall is a stimulant, it can result in increased heart rate and blood pressure. These symptoms can lead to anxiety. The more of the drug a person takes, the more likely they are to experience this kind of anxiety.

Adderall can boost mood and energy and create a high for some people, especially when abused. As these feel-good effects begin to wear off, people can feel increased fatigue as well as anxiety over the drug’s waning effects.

People who are addicted to or abuse Adderall may also feel anxiety when they run out of the drug. Many people who abuse Adderall rely on it to deal with certain situations such as work and school. When they are not on the drug, people may feel anxious and out of control over these situations.

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How Does Adderall Cause Anxiety?

One way that Adderall causes anxiety has to do with how the drug affects the brain. Adderall increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain — specifically dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

The increased presence of these chemicals can cause heightened energy and brain stimulation. People often feel motivation and increased focus while on Adderall.

However, the stimulating effects of Adderall can cause some people to experience anxiety. This is especially true for people who abuse the drug.

People who are addicted to the drug may also experience anxiety when they run out of the medication. They may get anxious about the Adderall “crash” and not being able to take more of the drug.

Symptoms of anxiety caused by Adderall abuse may include:

  • feeling on edge
  • sleep problems
  • fatigue
  • excessive worrying
  • stress
  • nervousness
  • inability to focus

Dealing With Anxiety Caused By Adderall Abuse

There are a few different ways to deal with anxiety caused by Adderall. When anxiety is caused by Adderall abuse, the drug should be tapered off and stopped. Stopping Adderall abruptly could cause a number of withdrawal symptoms that may worsen the anxiety.

People who are abusing Adderall may also need to seek treatment to overcome dependence and addiction.

Getting Treatment For Adderall Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall abuse or addiction, a detox program and formal treatment plan may be needed. Medically supervised detox programs offer safe and effective ways to successfully withdraw from Adderall.

After a person has gotten the drug out of his or her system, an inpatient treatment program will likely be recommended. Inpatient programs provide intensive daily treatment that focuses on overcoming addiction and remaining sober in the long run.

To learn more about Adderall and anxiety or to explore treatment options for Adderall addiction, contact our treatment specialists today.

WebMD - What's the Link Between Anxiety and ADHD?

DailyMed - Adderall – dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine sulfate tablet

RxList - Adderall

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