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Does Adderall Help with Anxiety: How the ADHD Medication Affects Anxiety Symptoms

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety

Anxiety is a common and often debilitating condition affecting millions worldwide. For those with ADHD, the challenges of managing anxiety can be even more complex since the co-occurring conditions exacerbate the symptoms of one another. 

In recent years, many individuals have turned to Adderall as a potential treatment option not only for ADHD but also to manage their anxiety symptoms. 

The relationship between anxiety and Adderall remains very complex, as it can alleviate or increase anxiety symptoms, depending on the individual. 

To make matters more challenging, ADHD often co-occurs with not only anxiety, but other mental health disorders, like depression, OCD, and bipolar, which requires treatment to be highly personalized to the individual. 

In this article, we’ll examine the evidence surrounding Adderall’s impact on anxiety and explore its potential as a treatment option for ADHD, anxiety symptoms, and other disorders. 

Does Adderall Help with Anxiety: Key Takeaways 

  • How Adderall affects those with ADHD – Adderall may calm anxiety in people with ADHD by relieving symptoms if administrated correctly and under medical supervision. 
  • What can people with ADHD do if Adderall doesn’t stop anxiety – With approval from a medical professional, you can pair Adderall with anxiety medication. On the flip side, you can use non-stimulant treatment for ADHD alongside anti-anxiety medicines and treatments if your doctor approves. 
  • How Adderall affects those without ADHD – Neurotypical people have a higher neurotransmitter baseline. Consuming Adderall pushes that above normal levels, which is more likely to increase hyperactivity and anxiety in people without ADHD.  

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Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall is the brand name of a prescription medication generically called amphetamine dextroamphetamine, which is a powerful stimulant. Adderall works by considerably increasing the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.

They are responsible for motivation, mental clarity, and optimal brain function [1] [2]. 

A diagnosis of ADHD seems to be associated with lowered levels of those essential neurotransmitters, which is why Adderall is prescribed to compensate for the deficiency. By increasing those compounds, like dopamine, to natural levels, the reward pathway in the brain responsible for motivation, drive, and concentration can work more effectively. 

It’s essential to take Adderall under medical supervision so that a qualified professional can see how doses affect your ADHD symptoms and overall mental health and make adjustments if necessary. Unfortunately, many people illegally use Adderall as a study drug to improve their focus and productivity. 

Does Adderall Help with Anxiety – How Adderall Affects People Without ADHD

Since neurotypical people, who don’t have symptoms of ADHD, don’t have a neurotransmitter deficiency, Adderall can cause the opposite effect. While it can calm down people with ADHD and allow them to focus, many people who are illicitly taking Adderall have reported hyperactivity and heightened anxiety symptoms. 

 Dopamine is a critical part of the reward pathway in the human brain, which is important for motivation and focus. One of the primary effects of Adderall is to raise and maintain dopamine levels, thereby relieving ADHD symptoms.

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Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – Can It Calm You Down?

Taking Adderall increases the total amount of crucial neurotransmitters in your brain, helping you focus. However, dopamine and other neurotransmitters are associated with good feelings, stimulants aren’t used as a direct treatment for anxiety. 

Adderall’s ability to reduce anxiety often results from improving ADHD symptoms [2].

Neurodivergent people who deal with ADHD struggle with executive dysfunction, making it harder to concentrate, organize themselves, stay on track with full focus, and finish tasks in a timely manner. Improving their productivity and ability to function and reducing their hyperactivity serves to calm down anxiety in many cases. 

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety or Cause Anxiety? 

Adderall use has been associated with increased anxiety, particularly in people without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It may not be surprising that anxiety symptoms can be caused by Adderall or stimulant drugs. Comparing Adderall to another common stimulant like caffeine might help to understand why it can make a person more stressed, jittery, and overstimulated.

Adderall and caffeine are both central nervous system stimulants. Adderall can cause the same sort of jitteriness that caffeine does, as well as the same stress sensitivity. Stimulating autonomic functions like high blood pressure and heart rate can also increase anxiety, particularly for those with an anxiety disorder.

Using Adderall illicitly as a smart drug is even more likely to lead to anxiety. Under no medical supervision, you don’t have a doctor to regulate your doses, so you are more likely to take more than necessary. Unfortunately, your body is likely to develop tolerance, requiring higher and more frequent doses to get the same effect. 

Over time, higher doses mean side effects may worsen while any positive effect on your mental health diminishes as your body develops higher tolerance levels to Adderall. Many people who struggle with excessive use of Adderall without medical support deal with trouble sleeping, heightened sensitivity to stress, insomnia, and inability to focus due to anxiety. 

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – Co-Occurring Conditions With ADHD and Narcolepsy

Does adderal Help with anxiety infographic

The Federal Drug Administration has approved Adderall for two uses. The first is ADHD, as we’ve discussed. The other is narcolepsy, a condition characterized by ‘attacks’ of sleep during waking hours [3]. 

Both illnesses are often found in patients with several related, co-occurring conditions. For example, patients diagnosed with narcolepsy are often already under treatment for depression and anxiety [4] [5].

Being diagnosed with ADHD comes with a higher risk of experiencing another mental illness. Some of the most common conditions include:

  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Substance use disorder.
  • Personality disorders [6].

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – What You Should Know About Adderall and Anxiety Medications

While addressing ADHD symptoms can also treat anxiety, any potential help managing anxiety is usually welcome. Additionally, it’s not unusual for those abusing Adderall as a study aid to struggle with anxiety. However, you should avoid mixing Adderall with several common treatments for anxiety disorders and depression.

Your doctor will have a complete list, but you should often avoid:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants.
  • St. John’s Wort [7].

The danger may be particularly grave when using Adderall illicitly. It would not be surprising if those struggling with substance use disorders also sought treatment for depression and anxiety, potentially causing a dangerous interaction due to negative interactions between the chemical compounds.

medication you should avoid mixing adderall with infographic 

Can You Take Adderall and Anti-Anxiety Medications at the Same Time?

You can, though there are some risks, and it’s best done with the advice of a doctor. Sometimes doctors prescribe Adderall with an anti-anxiety medication that can cause side effects, judging that the benefits outweigh the potential negatives [8].

Other anti-anxiety prescription drugs may work well with fewer adverse interactions. However, there may be a few good reasons to try other options to treat ADHD. First, Adderall seems to be generally less effective when someone also struggles with anxiety, so there may be a better option.

Secondly, relieving other mental health issues may resolve attention problems. We’ve seen that treating ADHD can help with anxiety. The opposite may also be true, so addressing anxiety also improves your ability to stay motivated, concentrated, and mentally alert since your mind is less stressed and mentally exhausted all the time, allowing it to focus. 

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Does Adderall Help with Anxiety – What’s the Best Drug for Severe Anxiety?

This is a question best answered with the help of professional medical advice tailored to your specific needs. When anxiety lasts for an extended period, it may be an anxiety disorder. Examples include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Panic disorder.
  • Social anxiety disorder.
  • A doctor can offer a diagnosis and the right anti-anxiety treatment to help.

Which ADHD Medication Causes the Least Anxiety?

When anxiety symptoms persist, your doctor may try other ADHD drugs. Atomoxetine is the most common drug for this dual-diagnosis treatment [9]. 

It successfully treats symptoms of ADHD but isn’t a stimulant and therefore is less likely to make anxiety worse. It can also be more easily used with other anti-anxiety treatments.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – Managing Adderall Related Anxiety

Sometimes, treating ADHD successfully may mean sticking with Adderall and managing anxiety by addressing it in another way. 

Some anxiety symptoms, such as panic attacks or intrusive thoughts, might benefit from psychiatric treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other medications that are given only with the approval of a medical professional supervising the process. 

Does Adderall Help with Anxiety – Anti-Anxiety Medications

Most anti-anxiety medication can potentially cause negative interactions with Adderall. Sometimes the side effects are minimal and worth it to treat symptoms. 

However, changing medication may be necessary. A common combination of anxiety and ADHD is atomoxetine and fluoxetine [10]. 

Does Adderall Help with Anxiety – Stimulants for Anxiety and Depression

Stimulants are often used as a prescribed medication or illegally used as a coping mechanism for depression. People with untreated or under-treated depression may take stimulants like Adderall illicitly as a form of self-medication.

People often use stimulants when suffering from depression since it’s also closely linked to anxiety symptoms.

For example, people with depression experience acute numbness, lack of motivation, and chronic mental exhaustion, which can lead to more intrusive thoughts, and falling behind, which increases stress, and anxiety about your value and usefulness as an individual, all of which increase anxiety. 

For people with depression who have low self-worth, unstable mood, and in extreme cases, have expressed suicidal thoughts, it’s crucial to take stimulants like Adderall under medical supervision. 

Higher than necessary doses can lead to dependence, and even addiction, which is dangerous since tolerance to the drug makes over-use more likely, and reduces the drug’s effectiveness in the first place. Suddenly stopping can send your body into a physical and mental shock and cause acute withdrawal symptoms that can exacerbate symptoms of depression as well. 

In cases of co-occurring conditions, where ADHD is intertwined with depression, and anxiety, speaking, getting advice, and following the instructions of a qualified professional is essential since this is the most effective way to get a healthy and optimal course of action that combines therapy, with lifestyle changes, and medications in suitable doses. 

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Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – Adderall Alternatives

Does Adderall help with anxiety? It may be clear at this point that Adderall is an excellent treatment for ADHD, which can also indirectly improve symptoms of anxiety, which many have been caused, and exacerbated by adverse side effects of ADHD.  

If you don’t have ADHD or a medical prescription from a doctor. It’s best to avoid using Adderall illegally. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not still looking for ways to boost mental energy. Using stimulants illicitly probably isn’t a good idea, but there may be other options with fewer risks that are cheaper and more readily available, like OTC nootropics. 

Some supplements include ingredients tailored to improve cognition, including focus, memory, reasoning, and more. For example, Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab nootropics include citicoline, which is beneficial for brain function, and other compounds essential with neuroprotective properties [11].

Across our Best Brain Pill Review, NooCube Review, and Hunter Focus Review, we explore various popular nootropics that may serve as viable alternatives to Adderall in specific circumstances, such as:

  • Adderall and other ADHD medications don’t interact well with other medications, or cause more side effects than benefits, so you want to try natural solutions. 
  • Your local pharmacy is suffering from a shortage and you can’t get another Adderall prescription.
  • You have developed tolerance to Adderall and are no longer receiving the positive cognitive benefits.
  • Adderall is working, but you want to try additional OTC supplements to improve cognitive function further.

Does Adderall Help with Anxiety – FAQs

If you have any remaining questions about the effectiveness and influence of Adderall on anxiety symptoms, we answer them below.  

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety if You Have ADHD

Yes, in many cases taking Adderall under medical supervision can alleviate symptoms of anxiety indirectly by making tasks easier to do, increasing concentration and motivation, and reducing mental exhaustion and overload. 

However, Adderall is not a one-size-fits-all solution and won’t help in all cases. If so, you can speak with your doctor to consider alternatives. 

Does Adderall Help With Social Anxiety?

Adderall probably won’t directly help social anxiety since many complex factors, like lack of confidence, struggle to communicate effectively, fear of strangers, and judgment, can cause and exacerbate. However, if Adderall improves brain function and your performance, it can indirectly make you feel more competent and confident, reducing social anxiety. 

What Does It Mean if Adderall Makes You Calm?

If you take Adderall and it helps you focus, you may have ADHD. The effect might also be calming, as a cessation of some of the frantic symptoms of ADHD can be a relief. 

Is There Medication for a Child With ADHD and Anxiety?

Atomoxetine has been used to treat ADHD successfully but isn’t a stimulant. It can be used with some common anxiety medications safely. To get the right medication, consult with a medical professional. 

Can Stimulants Help With Anxiety?

Many people wonder – does Adderall help with anxiety, and can other stimulants also positively benefit anxiety symptoms? In short, prescription stimulants aren’t usually used to treat anxiety directly, though they might be used to treat symptoms of ADHD, depression, and other co-occurring disorders. 

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Does Adderall Have a Calming Effect?

Adderall effects can help calm you down, depending on your mental health condition, brain chemistry, and how significant of a dose you take. Adderall tends to calm down people with ADHD by improving neurotransmitter deficiencies and reducing hyperactivity. It tends to have the opposite effect on neurotypical people since many get overly stimulated. 

We don’t recommend taking Adderall without a prescription, especially if you don’t have symptoms of ADHD or other neurodivergent conditions.

However, to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive function, try some of the best nootropic supplements, which use evidence-based and organic ingredients to improve mental health with fewer side effects.

Does Adderall Help With Depression?

Adderall isn’t approved as a treatment for depression. Several other treatment options with a better track record should probably be tried first.

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Does Adderall Help With Anxiety – Conclusion

ADHD and anxiety symptoms often go hand in hand and feed off one another since symptoms of ADHD can exacerbate anxiety and vice versa. Navigating both is a highly challenging task that requires professional assistance and, in some instances, medication to alleviate the intensity of symptoms. 

The evidence surrounding Adderall’s impact on anxiety is complex and multifaceted. While some individuals may find relief from anxiety symptoms with this medication, especially if they have ADHD, others may experience little to no improvement, especially if they don’t have ADHD symptoms or are not taking the right dosage under medical supervision. 

Ultimately, the decision to use Adderall for anxiety should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional who can help you understand the risks and benefits of this treatment option, supervise the process to see how you are responding, and switch doses or medications if necessary.

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2. 2.Coughlin, Catherine G, et al. “Meta-Analysis: Reduced Risk of Anxiety with Psychostimulant Treatment in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Oct. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4617411/.

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8. 8.Gabriel, Adel. “The Mixed Amphetamine Salt Extended RELEASE (Adderall XR, Max-XR) as an ADJUNCTIVE to Ssris or Snris in the Treatment of Adult ADHD Patients with COMORBID Partially Responsive Generalized Anxiety: An Open-Label Study.” ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, Springer Vienna, 4 May 2010, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12402-010-0025-z.

9. 9.“Summary of Findings.” Guidelines and Recommendations for ADHD in Children and Adolescents [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK174630/.

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11. 11.Abad-Santos F, Novalbos-Reina J, Gallego-Sandín S, García AG. Tratamiento del deterioro cognitivo leve: utilidad de la citicolina [Treatment of mild cognitive impairment: value of citicoline]. Rev Neurol. 2002 Oct 1-15;35(7):675-82. Spanish. PMID: 12389156.

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