Adderall for Treating Depression

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The prescription medication Adderall is a stimulant derived from amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is approved by the FDA as a treatment for attention-deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and for narcolepsy. It is used occasionally to treat depression as well, though this is an off-label (non-FDA approved) use.

How it Helps

  • Adderall is a psychostimulant that accelerates the functions of the central nervous system. It provides a boost in physical and mental energy, which are often limited or absent in people suffering from depression.

Temporary Use

  • Because Adderall only alleviates a few symptoms, it is most often used temporarily until more traditional treatments begin to work. People also build up a tolerance to the drug, and it is fairly addictive.

Problems

  • Besides being addictive, Adderall can exacerbate depression symptoms after it alleviates them. Like other amphetamine compounds, Adderall typically results in a mood crash after it wears off, sapping a person of energy and leaving them feeling down.

Side Effects

  • Adderall side effects can include dry mouth, loss of appetite, headaches, insomnia, raised blood pressure, gastrointestinal distress, accelerated heart rate, mood changes, dizziness, weakness and heartburn. Some of these may amplify the symptoms of depression.

Alternatives

  • Because Adderall can aggravate depression as much as treat it, depression patients may prefer alternatives for mental and physical energy. Caffeine and brisk aerobic exercise are natural alternatives. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly used to treat depression, can also be beneficial in this regard.

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