Could one of the most widely prescribed ADHD medications increase a person’s risk for harmful psychological side effects? In today’s post, we investigate an important question about a popular prescription drug: Does Adderall cause depression or other mental health challenges?
History of Adderall
The medication that we know as Adderall has been authorized for use in the U.S. for more than a quarter of a century:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Adderall to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 1996.
- Five years later, in 2001, the FDA approved an extended-release version of this medication (Adderall XR) to also treat ADHD.
But the history of this drug extends much farther back in time than the mid-1990s. Here’s a quick overview:
- Amphetamine (which is one of the primary active ingredients in Adderall) was discovered in 1887 by a Romanian chemist named Lazăr Edeleanu.
- The substance was virtually ignored until 1927, when Gordon Alles, a chemist from the U.S., independently synthesized it while seeking a substitute for ephedrine.
- In the 1930s, amphetamine began to be sold under the brand names Benzedrine and Dexedrine. These medications were marketed as a treatment for various concerns, including narcolepsy, chronic pain, and mild depression.
- During World War II, military personnel from many nations regularly took Benzedrine tablets as energy boosters.
- In the 1970s, clinical trials began to assess the effectiveness of Benzedrine, Dexedrine, and other amphetamines to alleviate behavioral problems among children who we would now recognize as having ADHD.
Today, millions of people in the U.S. take Adderall to help them manage ADHD symptoms. In 2021 alone, U.S. physicians wrote more than 41 million prescriptions for Adderall.
Side Effects of Adderall
Virtually every type of prescription medication poses a risk of negative side effects. In the case of Adderall, possible side effects include:
- Headaches and stomach aches
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Abnormal heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Frequent need to urinate
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Abdominal pain
- Sexual dysfunction
In the next section, we’ll discuss the potential mental and behavioral health impact of Adderall use, including answering the question, “Does Adderall cause depression?”
Does Adderall Cause Depression?
Thus far, we’ve established that millions of people take Adderall for legitimate medical purposes. We’ve also described the various physical side effects that can result from the use of this medication. Now, let’s focus on how Adderall use can affect your psychological well-being.
In other words, does Adderall cause depression, or can it increase your risk for other mental health challenges?
Yes, Adderall use has been linked with an increased risk of depression. However, the risk is greatest among people who are abusing this medication. This is also true among those who abruptly end their Adderall use after taking the drug for an extended period.
Also, people who have struggled with depression prior to taking Adderall may find that this drug exacerbates their depressive symptoms.
Other potential mental and behavioral health effects of Adderall use include:
- Agitation and irritability
Again, while anyone can develop depression or other mental health side effects after taking Adderall, the risk is greatest among people who have been intentionally misusing the drug or who stop taking it suddenly, without tapering their use.
What to Do if You’re Experiencing Problems from Taking Adderall?
If you experience physical, psychological, or behavioral problems after taking Adderall, your first step should be to discuss your concerns with the physician that prescribed the medication to you.
Depending on various personal factors, the right choice may involve adjusting your dosage level or switching you to another medication. But you should never make this type of decision on your own. Any changes in prescription medication use should always involve a consultation with the prescribing physician.
If you have been abusing Adderall, the best step is to stop engaging in this dangerous behavior. If your Adderall abuse has led to addiction, this may not be simple to accomplish. But when you get the right type of help, you can end your Adderall abuse for good and learn how to manage any future urges to misuse it or any other prescription medications.
What if You’re Addicted to Adderall?
If you believe that you have become addicted to Adderall, you should consult with your family doctor or another qualified healthcare provider. This professional can conduct an evaluation, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Adderall addiction is a treatable condition – but there’s no single service or course of treatment that works for everyone. This is why it is so important to get help from a provider that can assess the full scope of your needs and then develop a truly individualized treatment plan for you.
Depending on the severity of your Adderall addiction, you may need to start with a detoxification, or detox, program. This short-term program can help you rid your body of Adderall and manage the symptoms of Adderall withdrawal.
Once you’ve completed detox – or if you didn’t need that service – the next step in your care may involve residential rehabilitation, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programming, or traditional outpatient services. When you choose a provider that offers multiple levels of care, you can be sure you won’t be shoehorned into a one-size-fits-all approach.
Contact Our Adderall Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Detox is a trusted provider of personalized care for adults in southern California who have become addicted to Adderall and other prescription medications.
Our Adderall addiction treatment center in Los Angeles offers a full continuum of care in a safe and highly supportive environment. At LA Detox, all patients complete thorough assessments before beginning treatment, and every person follows a customized plan that reflects their specific history, needs, and goals.
To learn more about how we can help you achieve successful recovery from Adderall addiction, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.