Patients who suffer from depression and stress combined with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) often use stimulants like Adderall to maintain energy, attention, and alertness. Adderall can feel like a mood booster for the depressed.
However, doctors insist on caution because Adderall as a stimulant has been linked to both treatment and reason for depression.
What is depression?
Depression is a feeling of overwhelming sadness that is hard to shake. It’s usually characterized by withdrawal behavior when the person loses interest in activities they once found pleasurable.
If you’ve been experiencing extreme sadness lately, you aren’t alone. Depression is a common mood disorder.
A third of Americans suffer from depression every year. And what’s worse is that finding the correct treatment is not easy, especially when suffering from other mental conditions.
It’s always wise to work with mental health professionals when dealing with depression. But most depressed people who lack access to therapies and FDA-approved medications always turn to stimulants such as Adderall as mood boosters.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a drug containing equal parts amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s commonly used in the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD. It stimulates the central nervous system leading to cognitive and emotional effects such as enhanced wakefulness, better cognitive control, euphoria, and changes in a person’s sex drive.
Adderall intake also causes physical effects such as resistance to fatigue, enhanced muscle strength, and quicker reaction time.
For these reasons, other uses of Adderall are as an athletic performance booster, an appetite suppressant, an aphrodisiac, and a cognitive enhancer.
As an ADHD medication, Adderall often forms part of a treatment plan that may include social, psychological, or education measures.
Is Adderall approved for treating depression?
The FDA has not authorized the use of Adderall to combat depression or stress. Adderall is a controlled substance. Indeed, the organization warns that the use of Adderall in patients who suffer a combination of mental health disorders should be careful as the drug use is not without side effects.
Depression is a mood disorder that may be seasonal affective. Manic, treatment-resistant, clinical, or major depression.
Causes of depression include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, age, death or loss, genes, major events, gender, conflict, substance abuse, and certain medications. ADHD can also cause depression. ADHD and depression are usually diagnosed separately, and often, the depression is treated first before dealing with cognitive issues.
Medications used to combat depression are called antidepressants. They mainly include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), bupropion, serotonin, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Some patients who experience stress and ADHD often use Adderall as an unapproved treatment.
Unapproved usage of Adderall against depression
Many depressed people with no access to therapies or approved medications turn to Adderall to reduce negative feelings and thoughts.
A small number of studies suggest Adderall might help with depression. Data from Child Mind Institute says 5% of children who use Adderall handle depression well after using recommended doses. In adults, too, Adderall has been shown to keep symptoms of depression at bay; once the effects of Adderall fades, depression is seen to kick in.
Other than that, most praises about Adderall’s effectiveness against depression are completely anecdotal. Indeed, Adderall, together with other prescription stimulants, are recommended against ADHD only.
Additionally, the same studies warn that increased Adderall intake can cause increased feelings of sadness and other symptoms associated with depression. Most patients have reported feeling depressed after withdrawing from Adderall.
Therefore, Adderall against depression is only a temporary remedy. It’s always wise to speak to a medical professional about other proper treatment options for depression. These may include:
- Antidepressants such as SSRIs or SNRIs
- Alternative therapies including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), mindful-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
The use of Adderall against ADHD and depression comes with certain side-effects that can disappear shortly or last for a long while.
Off-label use of Adderall says it stimulates the brain, reducing negative thoughts and feelings. But long-time usage can also make you dependent on it. This happens when you develop increased tolerance to the drug and take more time to achieve stimulation. Increased tolerance leads to addiction which can develop into substance use disorder.
Other common adverse effects of Adderall use include:
- Stomach ache
- Dry mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Serotonin syndrome
- Blurred vision
- Suicidal thoughts after withdrawal from Adderall.
How long does Adderall last? Adderall use against cognitive disorders depends on genetic factors, the person’s history with stimulants, and the existence of other mental health disorders. Adderall can last in your system up to 6 hours/dose.
It’s often the case that people suffering from depression, stress, and a combination of other mental and cognitive disorders turn to stimulants, mainly Adderall, to help with their symptoms. But doctors and drug institutions warn that the use of Adderall against depression is not without side-effects.
While Adderall has been linked to reduced negative thoughts and enhanced mood in depressed people, withdrawal from the drug can cause feelings of sadness, decreased energy, concentration, self-esteem, and enhanced suicidal ideation.
Indeed, the FDA has not approved Adderall’s use against depression. Patients with depression and ADHD should speak with their doctor before taking any medication to combat negative feelings.