Does Adderall Abuse Cause Depression?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 29, 2021

Adderall can cause depression in some people. The drug is used to treat symptoms of ADHD, and works by altering the brain’s chemicals and level of stimulation. When misused, Adderall can cause the body to crash, leading to feelings of depression.

Does Adderall Cause Depression?

Adderall abuse can lead to depression in some people. It works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, creating a greater sense of focus.

These chemical messengers control energy levels and communicate with the parts of the brain that regulate emotions.

As Adderall alters the dopamine and norepinephrine levels, the brain may stop making enough of those chemicals on its own.

The body can then become dependent on the chemicals Adderall creates. So, when Adderall is not in a person’s system, the levels drop, and depression can follow.

How Adderall Affects People With Mental Health Disorders

Adderall may enhance existing feelings of anxiety, depression, and more. Depression is also a potential withdrawal symptom of Adderall abuse.

Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It’s used to treat symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, otherwise known as ADHD.

For those who have ADHD, Adderall can bring the level of stimulation down enough so that they can function better.

For those who do not have ADHD, however, Adderall can overstimulate the brain and have the opposite effect.

How Adderall Abuse Is Linked To Depression

When a person abuses Adderall, it produces extra dopamine in the brain. This surplus of dopamine causes the brain to overcompensate by stripping out dopamine receptors to maintain balance.

Fewer dopamine receptors in the brain means that the brain will require more and more of that substance.

If the body isn’t supplied with the chemicals it’s been accustomed to functioning with, it can crash. This mental and physical crash often feels like a serious letdown, creating feelings of sadness.

The body can also create a tolerance to the chemicals Adderall is producing. When a person who uses Adderall continues to increase the level of intake, it can lead to addiction.

Common Side Effects Of Adderall That May Lead To Depression

Adderall can cause a range of side effects that may contribute to or worsen depression. Some are mild, while others are more serious.

The following are side effects of Adderall abuse that may be linked to depression:

  • suicidal thoughts
  • insomnia
  • vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • cravings for Adderall
  • paranoia/suspicion of others
  • hallucinations
  • excessive fatigue
  • mood swings
  • aggression
  • irritability

Seeking Treatment For Adderall Abuse

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Contact our helpline today to learn more about treatment facilities that can help meet your recovery needs.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 29, 2021
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