Can Adderall Cause Depression?

December 28, 2023

a woman looking at camera, wondering if adderall can cause depression and anxiety

Each year, millions of U.S. adults grapple with depression, and the journey to find effective treatment can be challenging, especially when dealing with other mental health issues. Collaborating with a doctor or mental health professional is always beneficial when exploring treatment options. Adderall, a stimulant medication primarily prescribed for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), has been associated with depression – both as an off-label treatment and as a potential cause. Read on to learn more about this inter-relationship and find out how to get help.

Adderall and Depression

Adderall is a medication for treating ADHD that contains a blend of different amphetamine salts to act as a central nervous system stimulant, effectively managing ADHD symptoms. Prescribed for narcolepsy as well, Adderall functions by elevating dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, providing relief from ADHD-related challenges. While the medication is not intended as a cognitive enhancer, it is frequently abused for this purpose, especially among young adults. Misusing Adderall may trigger effects like addiction and depression. When used according to prescription guidelines, these effects should not occur, though.

Information provided by FDA regarding Adderall indicates that depression is a potential adverse reaction to the medication, although this is rare and typically associated with misuse or unauthorized use of the drug.

FDA advises caution for anyone with a history of bipolar disorder or other psychotic conditions when using Adderall. Screening for these mental health conditions is recommended for those exhibiting behavioral symptoms before starting the medication.

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In some instances, healthcare professionals may prescribe psychostimulants like Adderall to improve mood, energy, and concentration in individuals with depression or bipolar disorder. This approach may be considered when other treatments have not yielded positive results.

Abruptly stopping Adderall after prolonged high-dosage use may lead to the development of depression and extreme fatigue, as highlighted by FDA.

A review of studies suggests a potential association between the misuse of stimulant medication and symptoms of depression. This is particularly prevalent among college students. However, the study authors state that more research is needed to establish a conclusive link.

A woman looks out distressed, as she now understands that adderall can cause depression

Common Side Effects of Adderall

Common Adderall side effects may include:

  • Insomnia: Stimulants like Adderall can interfere with sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Loss of appetite: Some people may experience a reduced desire to eat while taking Adderall, which can result in weight loss.
  • Increased heart rate: Adderall can elevate heart rate, and in some cases, people using the medication may notice palpitations or a pounding sensation in the chest.
  • Nervousness or anxiety: Stimulant medications can contribute to heightened feelings of nervousness or anxiety.
  • Dry mouth: A common side effect of Adderall is experiencing a dry or unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Digestive issues: Adderall may trigger gastrointestinal discomfort like nausea or abdominal pain.
  • Headache: Some people may experience headaches as a side effect of Adderall.
  • Irritability: Mood changes, including increased irritability, can occur with the use of stimulant medications like Adderall.
  • Dizziness: Adderall may cause dizziness or lightheadedness in some individuals.
  • Increased blood pressure: Stimulants like Adderall can lead to elevated blood pressure in certain cases.

Discuss any side effects or concerns with a healthcare professional as soon as they arise, and take Adderall only as prescribed to mitigate complications.

What to Do If Adderall is Causing Depression

If you suspect that Adderall is contributing to feelings of depression or worsening your mood, take the following steps:

  • Consult your healthcare provider: Reach out to your prescribing healthcare professional immediately. Describe your symptoms and discuss any changes in mood or emotional well-being. They can provide guidance on making adjustments to the medication or dosage.
  • Be honest about your symptoms: Open communication is essential when addressing any mental health issue. Clearly communicate your emotional state, any changes you’ve noticed, and the duration of these symptoms. Be honest about any factors that may contribute, such as lifestyle changes or other medications or addictive substances that you’re using.
  • Follow professional advice: Your healthcare provider may recommend changes to your treatment plan. This could involve adjusting the dosage, switching to an alternative medication, or exploring other treatment options. Follow their advice closely and attend follow-up appointments to avoid relapse derailing your early recovery.
  • Consider therapy: In some cases, therapy or counseling may complement medication-assisted treatment. Mental health professionals can help you explore underlying issues and coping strategies.
  • Monitor your well-being: Keep a journal to track your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. Note any changes, improvements, or worsening symptoms. Share this information with your healthcare provider during follow-up appointments.
  • Engage in self-care: Focus on self-care practices, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management. These lifestyle factors can significantly impact mental well-being.
  • Connect with support: Reach out to friends, family, or a support network. Sharing your experiences can provide emotional support and perspective.

Always prioritize your mental health and seek professional guidance when needed. Never make adjustments to your medication regimen without consulting your healthcare provider.


Can Adderall cause depression and anxiety?

Adderall may potentially contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety as side effects, although very few people experience these effects.

Can Adderall cause depression in adults?

While Adderall is mainly prescribed to treat ADHD, some adults may report experiencing depressive symptoms as a side effect. Communicate any adverse reactions with your healthcare provider.

Can taking Adderall cause depression?

Taking Adderall can influence neurotransmitter levels in the brain, and in some cases, it may contribute to the development or worsening of depression. Individuals prescribed Adderall should monitor their mental health and consult their healthcare professional if they notice any concerning symptoms.

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Get Treatment for ADHD & Depression at Connections Mental Health

Depression is one of the most common mood disorders, and it is also highly treatable. At Connections Mental Health in Southern California, we treat all types of depression in an inpatient setting, providing you with the most structured and immersive recovery experience.

Our small team of experienced mental health professionals utilize therapies grounded in the most current psychiatric science blended with holistic interventions. As you address the underlying causes of your depression, you can benefit from the support of a small number of peers dealing with similar experiences. When you are ready to address major depressive disorder, restore functioning, and improve overall well-being, call Connections at 844-413-0009 and kickstart your long-term recovery from depression in Southern California.

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