Adderall and Depression

How Are They Connected?

Table of Contents


Adderall, a stimulant typically used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has been linked with depression. We’ll explain the connection between Adderall and depression as well as Adderall’s off-label use and risk of addiction.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name for the combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It belongs to a class of drugs called stimulants. Adderall is generally prescribed to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy (sleeping disorder).

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Adderall reduces the symptoms of ADHD in 70% of adults and 70% to 80% of children immediately after starting treatment.1

Can You Become Addicted to Adderall?

Not everyone who takes Adderall will become addicted. The risk of developing an addiction is greater if Adderall is taken in higher doses and longer than prescribed.

When higher doses of Adderall are taken to reach a “high,” it means tolerance has developed to the drug. Cutting back suddenly will result in a range of withdrawal symptoms such as depression and tiredness.

Going from being dependent to addicted happens quickly. Addiction involves intense cravings, the inability to stop taking the drug, and taking dangerous risks to obtain the drug, among other signs.

Depression and Adderall

Can Adderall Cause Depression?

Adderall and depression are closely linked. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that enhances the effects of some naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

Long-term abuse of Adderall can cause severe changes in the brain and lead to a decrease in the amount of dopamine the brain produces naturally. As the brain gets accustomed to the large amounts of dopamine. It will have a hard time experiencing pleasure without the chemical support of amphetamine. Abruptly stopping Adderall can also lead to depression and suicidal thinking.

Can Adderall Help Depression?

Adderall is not approved by the FDA as an antidepressant. The FDA reports that having combined mental health disorders—such as ADHD and depression—may result in adverse effects if Adderall is used.2

When there is a combined mental health disorder, you should consult with your doctor before taking Adderall.

Is it Safe to Take Adderall for Depression?

Because stimulants like Adderall are famous for increasing alertness, attention, and energy, they can seem like mood boosters for people living with depression.3 The high can mislead people into thinking the drug helps with mental health when it is causing further harm.

Some may begin misusing Adderall in an attempt to self-medicate mental health problems. This behavior can easily lead to an addiction.

Depression should always be treated by a medical professional. Adderall should never be taken without medical consultation and personalized prescription.

The most widely prescribed medications for treating all forms of depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Adderall Alternatives

Vyvanse vs. Adderall

Just as Adderall, Vyvanse is also an amphetamine that works in the same way. It stimulates the central nervous system (CNS). It also increases the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Vyvanse carries a lesser risk of being abused as it can not be injected or smoked. Moreover, the body needs to break Vyvanse down before it can start to work.

Ritalin vs. Adderall

Ritalin and Adderall share a few similarities. They both are prescribed to treat ADHD and are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. The difference is that Ritalin works sooner and reaches peak performance sooner than Adderall. On the other hand, Adderall stays active in the body longer than Ritalin. Many people opt for Ritalin due to its short-lasting effects as they can better control the timing of side effects.

Modafinil vs. Adderall

Modafinil and Adderall are both stimulants used in the treatment of narcolepsy. Modafinil is also a controlled substance. However, it is scheduled as a type IV drug due to its less addictive properties than Adderall. Modafinil is not approved for treating ADHD, but there are instances where it may be prescribed off-label for this use.

Treatment for Adderall Addiction

The best way to address an Adderall addiction is to go to a treatment center. Most treatment centers offer detoxification services that include cleansing the body of all toxins.

After detox, there are two major types of treatment programs: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient treatment is more suitable to address severe cases of addiction. Outpatient is geared towards mild addictions and offers time for outside responsibilities.

During both inpatient and outpatient programs, regular one-on-one therapy sessions and support groups provide guidance and community.

This information should not replace a visit to a doctor or treatment center. If you are concerned that you or a loved one might be suffering from Adderall addiction, ask for professional help today.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

Related Content

Learn More

In-Network with Most Major Insurance Providers

Fill out our free and confidential form to see how your insurance could cover the cost of treatment. No commitment required.