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The Link Between Adderall Use and Depression

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Adderall is a medication that often comes up when people talk about treatments for ADHD and ways to improve focus and alertness. It’s a drug that can really help those who struggle to concentrate because of ADHD or feel extremely sleepy due to a condition called narcolepsy.

But there’s more to Adderall than just helping with these issues. Some people wonder if it could also make users feel depressed. Below, we take a closer look at this concern and talk about what we know regarding Adderall and feelings of depression.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a medicine that doctors prescribe to treat ADHD, which makes it hard for people to focus, and narcolepsy, which makes people fall asleep when they don’t want to.

It’s composed of two main ingredients, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, that wake up the brain by increasing the availability of dopamine and norepinephrine. Under medical supervision, Adderall can help people suffering from ADHD and narcolepsy improve their concentration, focus, and better control their behavior.

What Is Depression?

Depression is more than just a fleeting blue mood. It is a pervasive and persistent sense of despair that can significantly interfere with daily life. Recognized by symptoms such as enduring sadness, loss of interest, and fluctuating appetites or sleep patterns, depression can stem from a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

How Does Adderall Affect Mood?

While Adderall has proven efficacy in managing ADHD symptoms, it comes with a spectrum of side effects. Side effects of Adderall can include increased anxiety, restlessness, and other mood disturbances.

Given its mechanism of enhancing parts of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, Adderall can sometimes lead to an emotional rollercoaster, particularly when the medication wears off, potentially triggering mood swings or depressive states.

Can Adderall Cause Depression?

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When it comes to Adderall and depression, the research is mixed. Some studies suggest that people who take Adderall, especially those with ADHD, might experience depression or other mental health difficulties. But it’s not clear if Adderall is the direct cause of these feelings.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Dopamine Effect: Adderall increases dopamine in the brain, which usually helps improve attention and focus. Dopamine is a chemical that also makes us feel good. However, when Adderall wears off, some people might feel down because their dopamine levels drop quickly.1
  • ADHD Medication and Mood: Researchers have noticed that teenagers and adults who have ADHD and take medicines like Adderall sometimes report feeling sadder or more depressed than those who don’t take these medicines. Yet, because ADHD and depression often occur together, it’s hard to tell if the medicine, the ADHD, or something else is causing these feelings.2
  • Risks Adderall Abuse: Taking Adderall without a doctor’s supervision, or taking too much, can mess with mood. People using Adderall for non-medical reasons might experience mood swings.3
  • The Crash After Stopping: Stopping Adderall suddenly after using it for a long period of time can make people feel very tired and depressed. Feeling these withdrawal symptoms is sometimes called “crashing” and can feel like a very bad mood that’s hard to shake off.4

Risk Factors for Depression in Adderall Users

Individuals with a pre-existing mood disorder or a family history of such conditions may have an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms with Adderall use. Dosage and duration are also critical factors; higher doses and long-term use can heighten the risk.

Moreover, those who misuse Adderall, particularly without medical oversight, may face a greater danger, as the drug’s impact on brain chemistry can be unpredictable and potentially harmful when not used as intended.4

Individualized Help for Depression and Addiction

Our exploration of Adderall’s uses and its potential links to depression brings us to a vital consideration: the necessity for comprehensive treatment approaches.

At Adelante Recovery Center, we recognize the dual challenges posed by Adderall addiction and depression. Our dual-diagnosis treatment programs are designed to address the intricacies of both conditions, offering a path to recovery that is rooted in understanding the unique needs of each individual.

If you or someone you know is struggling with these issues, we encourage you to reach out and learn how our tailored treatment plans can provide the help needed to move forward.

Disclaimer: If you’re worried that Adderall is making you feel depressed, please speak with your doctor. Everyone’s body reacts differently to medication, so it’s important to get personalized advice about your treatment.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adderall-withdrawal
  2. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/depression-adhd-link
  3. https://misuse.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/error/abuse.shtml
  4. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf

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