Adderall and Anxiety

This article will explore the connection between Adderall and anxiety symptoms. Read on to learn more.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is the brand name for a class of drugs that contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The medication works to regulate chemicals in the brain to address symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It only comes in a pill form and is taken orally. No other methods of taking the medicine are authorized for regular use.

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adderall and anxiety


What Does Adderall Do?

Adderall works by regulating the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are what send messages throughout the body. One of the most important neurotransmitters for mood and behavior are the ones related to dopamine. In people with ADHD, dopamine can be immaturely absorbed back into the brain. This lower level of dopamine can then cause the symptoms associated with ADHD such as hyperactivity and difficulty concentering.1

Adderall tries to counteract this by regulating the reabsorption of dopamine back into the system. By returning dopamine levels to normal, the ADHD related symptoms start to disappear. However, it should be noted that using Adderall is not a permanent fix to address ADHD. Rather, it just treats its symptoms.2

Can Adderall Cause Anxiety?

The relationship between Adderall and anxiety is not as cut and dry as many might think. It is pretty common to have both ADHD and an anxiety disorder at the same time. There could be several for this issue, but one of the most common is the anxiety from social situations or how others perceive their illness. Some studies estimate up to half of people with ADHD already suffer from anxiety before starting a medication regime based around Adderall.

Stimulants and Anxiety

Even for those who were already not predisposed to it, there are various reasons why Adderall might cause anxiety symptoms to manifest. Firstly, because it is a stimulant, it causes heart rate and blood pressure to go up. These two physical effects have been linked to causing anxiety. This medication can also cause insomnia in some and lack of sleep is another factor that might trigger anxiety.

Dependence and Anxiety

Using Adderall might produce a mild “high”. Because of this, people might become accustomed to the increased dopamine levels and become anxious when they must wait for the next time to take the medicine.

How Could Adderall Make an Anxious Person Feel Better?

Those suffering from anxiety might feel that Adderall makes them feel better due to the immediate releases of dopamine in the brain. Since dopamine is a powerful chemical that regulates mood, some people like the temporary relief it provides. However, this is a double-edged sword since it is this fleeting level of dopamine that can lead to a path of addiction.

Can You Become Addicted to Adderall?

It is incredibly easy to become addicted to Adderall, which is why it is so important to only follow prescribed guidelines from a doctor while taking it. Since it is classified as an amphetamine, this kind of drug class can quickly lead to tolerance and dependence, where the body expects the substances, and adapts to its presence. Unfortunately, not every addiction is a result of misuse.

One of the other ways to become addicted is through building up a tolerance. Different people respond in different ways to medication. There are many types of ADHD medications on the market and some medications work better for others. Adderall is not exempt from this dilemma. Therefore, people who do not respond well at first to Adderall might have their prescriptions increased or abruptly ended to try other medications. Either way, this can cause cravings, which can also increase anxiety.3

How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?

The amount of time Adderall stays in the body depends on a variety of factors. Age, gender, weight, dosage, frequency of use, metabolism, and hydration levels are all factors impact how long it will remain in the body. The way the body eliminates the drug is through metabolizing. It is the metabolites that are generated from this process are what is measured in drug tests.

Adderall’s Half Life

Metabolizing is measured by what is known as the half-life, which is how long it takes for half of the substance to leave the body. The half-life of Adderall is about ten hours.

As for the exact number of hours, this will depend on the type of test used to measure it. Urine tests are by far the most common and this will detect it up to ninety-six hours after the last use. Blood and saliva tests last up until about fifty hours.

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Treatment for Adderall Addiction


Unlike some other drug classes, like opioids, there is currently not an FDA approved medication to help address withdrawal symptoms. Stopping “cold turkey” is not recommended since there are several serious side effects that Adderall withdrawals symptoms can cause, including affecting heart rate. For this reason, attempting to get treatment for Adderall addiction should only be done in a medically supervised setting.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Once in this setting, after detox, one of the more common treatments is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also known as CBT. CBT is a tried and true method of replacing the reward system that drugs formerly occupied in your mind. By going to the root cause of what motivated the substance abuse in the first place, therapists can create unique plans to address individual motivations. CBT reinforces the idea that new behaviors and motivations have to be learned. This therapy takes some time and work but has been shown to produce lasting results.

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