Does Adderall Make Anxiety Worse?

woman is frustrated because she's crashing on adderall and has anxiety

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ADHD and Anxiety

Anxiety can come on as a result of ADHD. When this happens, your worries are often about how much or how little you are getting done. You might feel anxious and overwhelmed about your ADHD.

But also, when you have both, your worries are usually about a wide variety of things. It is not tied to any struggles you may have due to ADHD.

Having both ADHD and anxiety can be extremely stressful. Especially when the medications you’re prescribed for ADHD potentially contribute to your anxious state.

Treating ADHD and Anxiety

Getting treatment for ADHD can decrease your stress, improve your attention, so managing tasks is easier. It can also give you more mental energy to handle anxiety symptoms easier.

However, anxiety is a completely different condition from ADHD. Treating both disorders simultaneously may be the best route to go. A few treatments work best for both, such as; cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, meditation, and prescription medications.

The most common medicine that is prescribed for ADHD is stimulants. Such as methylphenidate and amphetamines. Even if you have anxiety in addition to ADHD, these medications may work well. But, also keep in mind that anxiety is a common side effect of stimulants.

Your doctor will be unaware of how the medication will affect you until you take it. But, stimulants can make anxiety worse. In this case, though, there are other medications you can take—specifically non-stimulant ones such as Strattera. Or you may be given an anti-depressant to help as well, such as Wellbutrin or Effexor.

Adderall and Anxiety

If Adderall is taken at a normal dose, it still can exaggerate existing psychiatric conditions. These conditions include anxiety.

If you find yourself taking more Adderall than prescribed, or are on too high of a dosage, then you may very well end up in an anxious state regularly.

Stimulants stimulate the body and put the body systems on high alert. Sometimes, this state of alertness can turn into a constant state of fight or flight.

Adderall and its Effect on the Body

Adderall is a combination drug that includes amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Having both of these drugs means having two central nervous system stimulants in it. When these stimulants get to the brain, it acts as a naturally occurring substance in the brain.

The substances it increases in the brain are dopamine, also known as adrenaline and norepinephrine. Dopamine is the reward chemical that causes Adderall to give off a euphoric feeling. It also helps the brain to be less distracted by other things.

The other substance, epinephrine that goes along with dopamine, affects the sympathetic nervous system, known as the body’s fight-or-flight system. The chemicals involved in the process produce alertness, clarity, focus, and decreased appetite. The effects of Adderall can sustain that flight-or-fight response for a longer period.

Of course, these effects have a price to pay. The side effects of Adderall are dizziness, headache, insomnia, psychosis, and depression. Taking this drug as prescribed can also limit addiction risk as that is a very large and growing concern with Adderall.

Understanding the “Adderall Crash”

An Adderall crash can cause intense feelings of anxiety. As it is with most drugs, the effects of Adderall wear off with time. As the effects of Adderall wear off, an individual might go through an “Adderall crash,” where they deal with unpleasant symptoms.

Although extended-release versions reduce the chance of this happening, many individuals take immediate-release tablets.

Adderall is also known to speed up the heart and raise blood pressure because of the flight-or-fight response lasting longer due to the drug. When patients stop taking Adderall, they can reduce or possibly avoid withdrawal symptoms. A healthy and stable withdrawal can happen slowly, coming off the drug over multiple months.

However, if you come off of it quickly or quit cold turkey, then other symptoms may be noticed, such as;

  • Having intense cravings for the Adderall
  • Being agitated or irritable easier
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Fatigue
  • Having feelings of depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Vivid and or unpleasant dreams or nightmares

If you take Adderall or larger doses for a long period, you are more prone to these experiences.

Timeline of Adderall Withdrawal

Please remember that some patients may not experience these or may have different symptoms. Within the first 1 to 3 days of withdrawal, certain symptoms start. These can be exhaustion, fatigue, feelings of depression, and increased sleep but of poor quality.

After that, you may notice more symptoms linked to the Adderall crash. The following symptoms may last from 7 to 10 days. Body aches and pains, headaches, increased appetite, mood swings going from anxious to agitated, then fatigued and worn out.

Paranoia- feeling like they are being judged or someone is out to get them, trouble concentrating, and trouble sleeping. If you stop taking Adderall suddenly, there can be some longer-term or lingering symptoms due to the withdrawal.

Usually, you will start to see improvements in mood and activity within 1 to 3 months of stopping the drug.

Coping With an Adderall Crash

The following tips from the guide could help you cope with an Adderall crash.

  • “Assure yourself that cravings are only temporary. The longer a person spends without taking the drug, the better they can resist cravings.

  • Create an environment that fosters better sleep. An example is a cool, dark room with quiet or white noise. People should instruct others not to disturb them and refrain from distractions, such as using their smartphones.

  • Stay hydrated and nourished. Drink plenty of water and eat nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Teas, such as chamomile or drinking warm milk may also help.

  • Stay relaxed. Do activities that do not involve too much concentration. Examples can include deep breathing or listening to music.

  • Avoid other stimulants. Anything else that acts as a stimulant could make sleeping and resting harder to achieve. These substances include caffeine and cigarettes.”

Use of Adderall and Xanax

Xanax is used to treat generalized anxiety disorders and panic disorder. It can make you feel more calm, relaxed, and tired. Researching these two drugs together is important because it can be dangerous and ultimately ineffective long-term.

Xanax is only supposed to be used as a short-term drug, though many individuals do end up using it long-term. Using Xanax long-term can create dependency, addiction, and very complex and painful physical withdrawal.

Taking Xanax and Adderall medications together can make both drugs less effective in their goal. This means each drug may not work as well to treat what it is prescribed.

Adderall is a stimulant that makes you feel more focused and awake, and Xanax is essentially the exact opposite. Xanax is designed to create feelings of calmness, peace, and comfort.

Adderall can increase panic attacks and worry. Adderall can also make it difficult to sleep.

Taking both Adderall and Xanax puts the body in a difficult position where it handles two different types of chemicals designed to do the opposite.

One is trying to help you stay calm and sleep while the other keeps you awake and focused.

Adderall Can Bring About Psychosis

Psychosis is a serious psychiatric condition where a person’s thinking becomes disorganized to losing touch with reality.

Symptoms of Adderall Psychosis

  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t real or aren’t there- hallucinations
  • Delusions, fully believing things that aren’t true
  • Paranoia, or feeling extremely suspicious of things and people.

There is a theory that some common side effects of Adderall could add to psychotic symptoms.

Other side effects include the following

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping

A continued lack of sleep or not having a good sleep quality can worsen symptoms like headaches and extreme nervousness. These symptoms could turn into paranoia that has been linked to psychosis.

Also, if you have a history of mental illness, you could be more likely to develop psychosis from using Adderall. However, the reason for this is still a bit of a mystery.

One of the theories is that your body responds differently due to increased chemicals in the brain. The increase in chemicals is caused by the use of Adderall. Those with amphetamine-induced psychosis usually have higher rates of norepinephrine in their blood.

Compared to amphetamine users without psychosis.

Norepinephrine is a chemical that Adderall increases in the brain. This means that those in an induced psychosis typically take a drug like Adderall versus those using amphetamines and don’t have psychosis.

How to Get Help for An Adderall Addiction

Adderall can worsen your anxiety, but there are ways to deal with it. The drug can cause anxiety to be brought on as well. Talking to your doctor can help alleviate these symptoms. Switching the medication to a doctor’s recommendation is also helpful.

Suppose you have concerns or questions about yourself or a loved one. Please feel free to contact us. We are always available to help you with anything you may need.

Addicted to Adderall and looking for a way out? Our helpline is free. No obligations, ask the questions you want about drug rehab treatment options. Dial (888) 906-0952 and press 1.


[1] Medical News Today: Adderall Guide

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