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Does Adderall Help with Anxiety: How the ADHD Medication Affects Anxiety Symptoms

Does Adderall Help with Anxiety: How the ADHD Medication Affects Anxiety Symptoms

By Kire Stojkovski M.D
Editor Jonathan Hoarau Published 03 November 2021
Time to read 13 min

Anxiety is a common and often debilitating condition affecting millions worldwide. For those with ADHD, the challenges of managing anxiety can be even more complex since the two conditions worsen the symptoms of one another.

In recent years, many people have turned to Adderall as a potential treatment option not only for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but also to relieve their anxiety symptoms.

The relationship between anxiety and Adderall remains very complex, as it can alleviate or increase anxiety symptoms, depending on the individual.

To make matters even harder, ADHD often exists together not only with anxiety but other mental health conditions, like depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder, which require highly personalized treatment for each individual.

Does Adderall help with anxiety? In this article, we’ll examine the evidence surrounding Adderall’s impact on anxiety. We’ll also explore its potential as a treatment option for ADHD, anxiety symptoms, and other disorders. Finally, we’ll check out possible natural alternatives to Adderall, including MindVitality and other nootropic supplements.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety: Key Takeaways

  • How Adderall affects those with ADHD: Adderall may calm anxiety in people with ADHD by relieving symptoms if administered correctly and under medical supervision
  • What people with ADHD can do if Adderall doesn’t stop anxiety: With approval from a medical professional, you can pair Adderall with anxiety medication. On the flip side, you can use non-stimulant treatment for ADHD alongside anti-anxiety medicines and treatments if your doctor approves
  • How Adderall affects those without ADHD: People who think like their peers have a higher neurotransmitter baseline. Consuming Adderall pushes that above normal levels, which is more likely to increase hyperactivity and anxiety in people without ADHD

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety and How Does the Medication Work?

Adderall is the brand name of a prescription medication, a powerful stimulant also called by its generic name amphetamine dextroamphetamine.

Adderall works by considerably increasing the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. They are responsible for motivation, mental clarity, and optimal brain function [1] [2].

A diagnosis of ADHD seems to be associated with lower levels of those essential neurotransmitters, which is why Adderall is prescribed to compensate for the deficiency. By increasing compounds like dopamine to natural levels, the reward pathway in the brain responsible for motivation, drive, and concentration can work more effectively.

It’s essential to take Adderall under medical supervision so that a qualified professional can see how doses affect your ADHD symptoms and overall mental health and make adjustments if necessary. Unfortunately, many people illegally use Adderall as a study drug to improve their focus and productivity.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety? How It Affects People Without ADHD

Adderall can cause the opposite effect on people who don’t have ADHD symptoms because they don’t have a neurotransmitter deficiency. While it can calm down people with ADHD and allow them to focus, many people who are illicitly taking Adderall have reported hyperactivity and heightened anxiety symptoms.

Dopamine is a critical part of the reward pathway in the human brain, which is important for motivation and focus. One of the primary effects of Adderall is to raise and maintain dopamine levels, thereby relieving ADHD symptoms.

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety and Can It Calm You Down?

Taking Adderall increases the total amount of crucial neurotransmitters in your brain, helping you focus. However, while dopamine and other neurotransmitters are associated with good feelings, stimulants shouldn’t be used as a direct treatment for anxiety.

Adderall’s ability to reduce anxiety often results from improving ADHD symptoms [2].

People who deal with ADHD struggle with concentrating, organizing, staying on track, and finishing tasks on time. Improving their productivity and ability to function and reducing their hyperactivity serves to calm down anxiety in many cases.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety or Cause Anxiety?

Adderall use has been associated with increased anxiety, particularly in people without ADHD. It may not be surprising that anxiety symptoms can be caused by Adderall or stimulant drugs. Comparing Adderall to another common stimulant like caffeine might help you understand why it can make a person more stressed, jittery, and overstimulated.

Adderall and caffeine are both central nervous system stimulants. It can cause the same sort of jitteriness that caffeine does, as well as the same stress sensitivity. Increasing blood pressure and heart rate can also cause anxiety, particularly for those with an anxiety disorder.

Using Adderall illicitly as a smart drug is even more likely to lead to anxiety. Without medical supervision, a doctor won’t be able to regulate your doses, so you are more likely to take more than necessary. Unfortunately, your body is likely to develop tolerance, requiring higher and more frequent doses to get the same effect.

Over time, higher doses mean side effects may worsen while any positive effects on your mental health lessen as your body develops higher tolerance levels to Adderall.

Many people who struggle with taking too much Adderall without medical support usually deal with sleeping problems, greater sensitivity to stress, and difficulty focusing due to anxiety.

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality

Related Conditions to ADHD and Narcolepsy

Does adderal Help with anxiety infographic

The Federal Drug Administration has approved Adderall for two uses. The first is ADHD, as we’ve discussed. The other is narcolepsy, a condition characterized by “attacks” of sleep during waking hours [3].

Both illnesses are often found in patients with several related conditions. For example, patients diagnosed with narcolepsy are often already under treatment for depression and anxiety [4] [5].

Being diagnosed with ADHD comes with a higher risk of experiencing another mental illness. Some of the most common conditions include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Personality disorders [6]

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety? What You Should Know About Adderall and Anxiety Medications

While addressing ADHD symptoms may also help treat anxiety, other people also try to manage their anxiety in other ways. Additionally, it’s not unusual for those abusing Adderall as a study aid to struggle with anxiety. However, you should avoid mixing Adderall with several common treatments for anxiety disorders and depression.

Your doctor will have a complete list, but you should typically avoid using the following if you’re taking Adderall::

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • St. John’s Wort [7]

The risk may be particularly serious when using Adderall illicitly. It would not be surprising if those struggling with SUD also sought treatment for depression and anxiety, potentially causing adverse interactions between the chemical compounds.

medication you should avoid mixing adderall with infographic

Can You Take Adderall and Anti-Anxiety Medications at the Same Time?

You can, although there are some risks, and it’s best done with the advice of a doctor. Sometimes, doctors prescribe Adderall with an anti-anxiety medication that can cause side effects, judging that the benefits outweigh the potential adverse effects [8].

Other anti-anxiety prescription drugs may work well with fewer adverse interactions. However, there may be a few good reasons to try other options to treat ADHD. First, Adderall seems to be generally less effective when someone also struggles with anxiety, so there may be a better option.

Secondly, relieving other mental health issues may resolve attention problems. We’ve seen that treating ADHD can help with anxiety. The opposite may also be true, so addressing anxiety also improves your ability to stay motivated, focused, and mentally alert since your mind is less stressed and mentally exhausted all the time.

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety and What’s the Best Drug for Severe Anxiety?

This is a question best answered by professional medical advice tailored to your specific needs. When anxiety lasts for an extended period, it may be an anxiety disorder, such as:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

A doctor can offer a diagnosis and the right anti-anxiety treatment to help relieve your symptoms.

Which ADHD Medication Causes the Least Anxiety?

When anxiety symptoms persist, your doctor may try other ADHD drugs. Atomoxetine is the most common medication for this dual-diagnosis treatment [9].

It may treat ADHD symptoms but isn’t a stimulant and therefore is less likely to make anxiety worse. It can also be more easily used with other anti-anxiety treatments.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety: Managing Adderall-Related Anxiety

Sometimes, treating ADHD successfully may mean sticking with Adderall and managing anxiety by addressing it in another way.

Some anxiety symptoms, such as panic attacks or intrusive thoughts, might benefit from psychiatric treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other medications that are given only with the approval of a medical professional supervising the process.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety: Anti-Anxiety Medications

Most anti-anxiety medications can potentially cause adverse interactions with Adderall. Sometimes the side effects are minimal and worth it to treat symptoms.

However, changing medication may be necessary. A common combination of anxiety and ADHD is atomoxetine and fluoxetine [10].

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety: Stimulants for Anxiety and Depression

Stimulants are often used as a prescribed medication or illegally used as a coping mechanism for depression. People with untreated or under-treated depression may take stimulants like Adderall illicitly as a form of self-medication.

People often use stimulants when suffering from depression since it’s also closely linked to anxiety symptoms.

For example, people with depression usually experience acute numbness, lack of motivation, and chronic mental exhaustion. These symptoms can lead to more intrusive thoughts, and falling behind, which increases stress, and anxiety about your value and usefulness as an individual, all of which increase anxiety.

People with depression who have low self-worth, unstable mood, and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts should take stimulants like Adderall under medical supervision.

Higher than necessary doses can lead to dependence and even addiction. This is dangerous since tolerance to the drug makes overuse more likely and reduces the drug’s effectiveness in the first place. Suddenly stopping can send your body into a physical and mental shock and cause acute withdrawal symptoms that can worsen symptoms of depression as well.

In cases of related conditions, where ADHD is intertwined with depression and anxiety, speaking, getting advice, and following the instructions of a qualified professional is essential. This is the most effective way to get a healthy and optimal course of action that combines therapy with lifestyle changes and medications in suitable doses.

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality

Adderall Alternatives

Does Adderall help with anxiety? It may be clear at this point that Adderall is an excellent treatment for ADHD, which can also indirectly improve anxiety symptoms caused and worsened by the adverse effects of ADHD.

If you don’t have ADHD or a medical prescription from a doctor, it’s best to avoid using Adderall illegally. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for ways to boost your mental energy. Using stimulants illicitly probably isn’t a good idea, but there may be other options with fewer risks that are cheaper and more readily available, like OTC nootropics.

Some supplements include ingredients tailored to improve cognition, focus, memory, and reasoning. For example, Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab nootropics include citicoline, which is beneficial for brain function, and other compounds that protect your brain [11].

Here are some of the best alternatives to Adderall among the top nootropics:


Mind Vitality

MindVitality is a nootropic supplement that contains 17 natural ingredients supported by science. It claims to improve blood flow to the brain through ginkgo biloba. The supplement may  also enhance memory through bacopa monnieri and sharpen mental focus through pine extract.

MindVitality is the ideal solution if you want a natural alternative to Adderall that is vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and gluten-free.

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality

Addall XR

Addall XR

Addall XR is a nootropic drink that claims to boost your mental clarity and concentration. According to the manufacturer, it may help your body use the various neurotransmitters in your brain better.

Addall XR is a practical choice if you prefer a nootropic product in a handy beverage form instead of the usual pills.

Try an alternative to Adderall like Addall XR



Noocube is a nootropic supplement that includes 12 natural ingredients backed by science. It claims to slow down brain issues caused by aging through resveratrol. It may also reduce memory loss and brain fog through cat’s claw.

NooCube reviews show it is a viable option if you need a nootropic supplement that specializes in brain productivity.

Try an alternative to Adderall like Noocube

In addition to these top three supplements, you can also check out other popular nootropics by reading Brain Pill reviews and Hunter Focus reviews.

When To Use Adderall Alternatives

While Adderall can be helpful in some situations, you may consider using alternatives to Adderall such as the best nootropic stack in specific circumstances, such as:

  • When Adderall and other ADHD medications don’t interact well with other medications or cause more side effects than benefits, so you want to try natural solutions
  • Your local pharmacy has a shortage and you can’t get another Adderall prescription
  • You have developed tolerance to Adderall and are no longer experiencing cognitive benefits
  • Adderall is working, but you want to try additional OTC supplements to improve cognitive function further

FAQs: Does Adderall Help With Anxiety?

We answered some questions about the effectiveness and impact of Adderall on anxiety symptoms below.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety if You Have ADHD?

Yes, in many cases, taking Adderall under medical supervision can alleviate symptoms of anxiety indirectly by making tasks easier to do, increasing concentration and motivation, and reducing mental exhaustion and overload.

However, Adderall is not a one-size-fits-all solution and won’t help in all cases. If so, you can speak with your doctor to consider alternatives like MindVitality.

Does Adderall Help With Social Anxiety?

Adderall probably won’t directly help social anxiety since many complex factors, like lack of confidence, struggle to communicate effectively, fear of strangers, and judgment, can cause and worsen it. However, if Adderall improves brain function and your performance, it can indirectly make you feel more competent and confident, reducing social anxiety.

What Does It Mean if Adderall Makes You Calm?

If you take Adderall and it helps you focus, you may have ADHD. The effect might also be calming, as the lessening of symptoms of ADHD can be a relief.

Is There Medication for a Child With ADHD and Anxiety?

Atomoxetine has been used to treat ADHD successfully in some cases, but it isn’t a stimulant. It may be used with some common anxiety medications, but its suitability depends on the person’s age and condition. To get the right medication for you or your child, consult a medical professional.

Does Adderall Help With Depression?

Adderall isn’t approved as a treatment for depression. Several other treatment options with a better track record should probably be tried first.

Does Adderall Help With Anxiety: Conclusion

ADHD and anxiety symptoms often go hand in hand and feed off one another since symptoms of ADHD can worsen anxiety and vice versa. Navigating both is a highly challenging task that requires professional assistance and, in some instances, medication to alleviate the intensity of symptoms.

The evidence surrounding Adderall’s impact on anxiety is complex. While some individuals may find relief from anxiety symptoms with the help of this medication, especially if they have ADHD, others may experience little to no improvement, especially if they don’t have ADHD symptoms or are not taking the right dosage under medical supervision.

Ultimately, the decision to use Adderall for anxiety should be made with the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional who can help you understand the risks and benefits of this treatment option, supervise the process to see how you are responding, and switch doses or medications if necessary.

Seek medical advice to determine if Adderall or natural alternatives like MindVitality are right for you.

Try an alternative to Adderall like MindVitality



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2. Coughlin, Catherine G, et al. “Meta-Analysis: Reduced Risk of Anxiety with Psychostimulant Treatment in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Oct. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4617411/.

3. “Apa Dictionary of Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, dictionary.apa.org/narcolepsy.

4. Cohen, Alexander, et al. “Comorbidities in a Community Sample of Narcolepsy.” Sleep Medicine, Elsevier, 21 Nov. 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945717315587.

5. Lee, Min-Jing, et al. “Comorbidity of Narcolepsy and Depressive DISORDERS: A NATIONWIDE Population-Based Study in Taiwan.” Sleep Medicine, Elsevier, 5 Sept. 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945717303271.

6. Katzman, Martin A., et al. “Adult Adhd and Comorbid Disorders: Clinical Implications of a Dimensional Approach.” BMC Psychiatry, BioMed Central, 22 Aug. 2017, link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12888-017-1463-3.

7. “Adderall CII .” Access Data, Federal Drug Administration, www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf.

8. Gabriel, Adel. “The Mixed Amphetamine Salt Extended RELEASE (Adderall XR, Max-XR) as an ADJUNCTIVE to Ssris or Snris in the Treatment of Adult ADHD Patients with COMORBID Partially Responsive Generalized Anxiety: An Open-Label Study.” ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, Springer Vienna, 4 May 2010, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12402-010-0025-z.

9. “Summary of Findings.” Guidelines and Recommendations for ADHD in Children and Adolescents [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK174630/.

10. “Managing Adhd in Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Comorbid Anxiety in Primary Care.” Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc., 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1896299/.

11. Abad-Santos F, Novalbos-Reina J, Gallego-Sandín S, García AG. Tratamiento del deterioro cognitivo leve: utilidad de la citicolina [Treatment of mild cognitive impairment: value of citicoline]. Rev Neurol. 2002 Oct 1-15;35(7):675-82. Spanish. PMID: 12389156.