Can Adderall for ADHD Cause Depression?

Can Adderall for ADHD Cause Depression?

Written by :

Arooj Anjum

Arooj Anjum

Biomedical Engineer


People with ADHD are prescribed Adderall to manage the symptoms, but the question remains, ‘Can Adderall cause depression?’  The answer is Yes. Before we go into further details, let’s see how we can help.


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What Causes Depression?


Depression is the most common mental health condition in the USA and worldwide. It leads to feeling constantly sad and down. Depression affects our sleep, our behavior, and our thinking.


The main cause of depression is unknown, although several factors, like genetics and life events, play a major role. Treating depression on time is important, especially if you have to deal with other mental health disorders. Finding the right treatment for depression can be tough because of the tight competition between mental health professionals. 

What is Adderall Use?


Adderall is a stimulant drug that affects the CNS. It is mainly prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy in adults. Adderall is the brand name which consists of amphetamine salts and dextroamphetamine salts. This combination enhances mood and increases attention and resistance to fatigue while helping to reduce impulsivity and agitation in patients with ADHD.


Due to this, Adderall is commonly misused by some young people, like athletes, for better performance or just for recreational purposes. 

Can Adderall Cause Depression?


There is a strong link between Adderall and depression. Some studies suggest that Adderall can cause depression, while some people use Adderall off-label to treat depression.

Treating Depression with Adderall


Off-label use of Adderall is for treating symptoms of depression in individuals with ADHD. Unlike SSRIs antidepressants, Adderall is a stimulant drug that enhances mood, attention, and overall energy, working as a mood booster for individuals experiencing depression symptoms.


Adderall’s dosage for ADHD depression is very low, and it is usually used in combination with other medicines.

Adderall Reaction Depression


Taking high doses of Adderall or stopping the drug abruptly can cause depression. Adderall should only be used with a prescription because it is and can be misused. Unfortunately, many teenagers and college students get into Adderall abuse because of the euphoric effect it has. They fail to realize that all mental health medicines come with side effects. Adderall can also cause dependency and has a withdrawal effect. 


Some common withdrawal symptoms are depression, insomnia, fatigue, and suicidal feelings. So, yes Adderall can cause depression. Therefore, the first line of treatment for depression and ADHD patients with depression is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors SNRIs. Both SSRi and SNRi are FDA-approved mood disorders ADHD medications. They are usually the first treatment options on the onset of depressive symptoms.

Alternative Treatments for Depression


In case your doctor feels medicine is not for you, then some alternate techniques can be applied; for example,

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Mindful-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
  • ABA therapy for ADHD

When all fails, then Adderall for depression should be used. Some additional risks of Adderall are withdrawal effect and dependency. People having depression usually misuse the drug because of the mood-boosting effect. Vyvanse is an alternative medicine that can be used to treat ADHD symptoms, but always visit a medical professional and get a proper medical consultation for your depression. 


Things to Discuss with your Doctor Before starting Adderall


If you have ADHD and your doctor puts you on Adderall, then don’t worry about it causing depression or not. Your doctor knows the best.

  • Do not use Adderall if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, or heart disease. 
  • Tell your doctor about any history of substance use disorder.
  • Can Adderall cause depression? Yes, discuss any other mental health condition with your doctor first.
  • Do not start Adderall if you have taken monoamine oxidase inhibitor MAOI in the last 2-weeks.
  • Adderall has some severe reactions. Be cautious if you have any underlying mental health conditions like psychosis, mania, or depression.
  • FDA warns people who have either bipolar disorder or ADHD to take caution before using Adderall
  • The FDA recommends that you tell the medical professional if you suffer from seizures, thyroid, liver, or kidney disease and have Tourette’s syndrome. 
  • Stop taking Adderall if you get pregnant between the treatment and visit a medical
  • Specialist immediately.
  • The FDA does not recommend taking Adderall while you are breastfeeding.
  • Keep all prescription stimulants and prescription medication away. Substance abuse with Adderall is common. 

Possible Side Effects of Adderall


Like other psychiatric medications, Adderall has some adverse effects. Some are minor, while others are serious.

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures 
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Stomach cramps

Individuals using Adderall for extended periods notice fatigue and lethargy. Adderall can cause depression, and therefore, it is important to discuss all your concerns with a healthcare professional before getting Adderall prescribed for ADHD.

Adderall Warnings and Drug Interactions


Before starting Adderall, talk to your doctor and provide them with a list of medications you use daily. Do not keep any medical history from your doctor;

  • People with pre-existing heart conditions suffered from serious cardiovascular events, and some even died due to using Adderall. If you have any heart issues like serious heart rhythm abnormalities and cardiomyopathy, tell the medical professionals. 
  • Stroke and myocardial infarction were reported in some individuals using ADHD. 
  • Stimulants like Adderall increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Make sure you keep a constant check on these two.
  • Some cases of peripheral vasculopathy were reported in individuals after using Adderall. In case of any tingling or pain in fingers and legs, contact the medical emergency.
  • Adderall increases energy levels and dopamine levels, which is why people misuse it. Adderall addiction is common.

Adderall has some serious drug interactions. Do not use Adderall with the following;

  • Antidepressants
  • MAOIs
  • Blood thinners
  • Blood pressure drugs
  • Decongestants
  • Medicine for seizures 
  • And antacid medicines

Note– Do not use Adderall or any other prescription drug if you have pre-existing mental health conditions without discussing with the doctor first. Adderall can worsen some symptoms, like increasing the manic episodes.

Bottom Line


If you are wondering, can Adderall cause depression, the answer is yes. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant used to manage ADHD symptoms. If you are using Adderall for narcolepsy or ADHD, your medical professional will keep a close eye on you.


Remember, Adderall is not a drug for depression; do not start taking Adderall on your own. It is not the antidepressant medication of doctors’ choice. Seek medical help, discuss your symptoms, and get the best treatment plan from a doctor in case of serious side effects like suicidal thoughts or if you notice Adderall symptoms.


Depression can be a challenging journey, but seeking support and taking steps towards self-care can lead to profound growth and resilience.


1. Can Adderall cause depression?


According to the information given by the FDA, depression is a side effect of Adderall. Although someone rarely gets depression with Adderall. The only possibility of depression is when someone misuses the medicine, like using it without a prescription or using it for recreational purposes.

2. Can Adderall make you numb?


Yes, even with the right drug administration, people feel emotionally numb and cannot connect with others. If you are on Adderall, discuss your concerns with the prescribing doctor.

3. Can Adderall calm my nerves?


Yes, Adderall is a stimulating drug, and when taken, it will boost the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, making you feel relaxed and focused.

4. What are the withdrawal symptoms of Adderall?


If you stop Adderall abruptly, without tapering, you are likely to have the following symptoms;

  • Tiredness and fatigue, low mood, and feeling down- 6 to 36 hours after you took the last dose of Adderall
  • After 3 to 5 days, the symptoms of withdrawal are at its peak. You may feel extremely lethargic, extremely depressed, and even irritable. Some people reported nightmares and headaches.
  • After 5 to 7 days, the withdrawal symptoms begin to subside, and naturally, you start feeling better. However, a small percentage of the people might still feel unmotivated and moody.
  • A month after stopping Adderall- usually by this time, no withdrawal symptoms are noticed. However, individuals with high tolerance to this drug may still have some side effects. Or people who were on Adderall for over a year.


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