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Adderall For Anxiety Disorders: A Counterintuitive Treatment Option

One counterintuitive treatment that has emerged in recent years for social anxiety disorders is that of the medication Adderall. The reason that this is a counterintuitive treatment option is due to the fact that most anxiety disorders are thought to be a result of overstimulation. Since many individuals with anxiety are overstimulated, treatment with a “stimulant” like Adderall wouldn’t make much sense – because this would provide further stimulation and possibly lead to increases in anxiety.

Although the first line of treatment for anxiety is typically an anti-anxiety medication or SSRI, some individuals don’t seem to get any relief. Going through medication after medication and becoming frustrated and more anxious from the fact that you can’t seem to find relief is a recipe for hopelessness. If you have tried many of the traditional treatments and have a psychiatrist willing to work with you, trying Adderall for social anxiety may be beneficial.  In some cases psychiatrists may prescribe Adderall for treatment-resistant depression as a supplemental treatment to an SSRI.

How does Adderall reduce social anxiety?

Adderall is a psychostimulant that causes dopamine to be released into the brain. Additionally, it does release norepinephrine and can affect serotonin. This drug makes most people feel good, focused, and productive. It releases social anxiety by stimulating the brain so that during social situations, you don’t have difficulty thinking of what to say; it makes you feel calm and focused at the optimal dose.

1. Pro social effect

While on Adderall most people feel more social, outgoing, and willing to talk. As I already mentioned, it basically primes your brain so that you don’t have to work hard at thinking of things to say during social situations; the socializing is automatic.

2. Increased energy

If you take the proper dose, you should notice increases in energy. Taking too high of a dose may result in jitteriness and/or bouncing off the walls. A slight increase in energy is normal and helps with the anxiety too.

3. Optimism

In many cases of anxiety disorders, sufferers feel an overwhelming sense of doom and pessimism. This drug stimulates activity in the brain to make you feel more optimistic.

4. Mood booster

The fact that this is a stimulant and releases dopamine typically makes people feel happier or a little more chipper than they normally would.

5. Sense of calmness

When taken at certain doses, this medication can actually make you feel calm and focused. You feel in control and as though you can handle anything.

Personal experience taking Adderall for anxiety disorder

I personally take Adderall to help my treatment resistant depression, but I have found that it also works wonders for my social anxiety. I take a very small dose of 5 mg as needed when I feel really down in the dumps. I also have a mix of schizoid and avoidant personality disorder traits, so taking this medication really helps when I need to be social.

Prior to using the medication, I was very anti-amphetamines. Having researched them and having spoken with my psychiatrist about them, he told me that they are among the safest medications out if used properly. The reason many people experience problems with Adderall is because they are misusing it. I certainly can see how people could become addicted to this medication with relative ease.

If you are a person with addictive tendencies, this probably isn’t a good option for you. I still limit myself to taking it only when I absolutely need it. I classify needing it as in significant social situations and when I feel deeply suicidal. I don’t like to take it often or at high doses because I don’t want my body to become conditioned to this powerful medication.  Additionally, there is sometimes a wicked Adderall crash that some people may not be able to handle – even at low doses.  In my opinion, this crash is still considerably more favorable than withdrawing from an antidepressant or anti anxiety medication.

Why prescribing Adderall for anxiety is NOT very common

If you have done your research on Adderall, you should know that it is a controlled substance and is not considered a first line treatment option for anxiety. It is primarily used to help individuals with ADD and/or ADHD. For these individuals it is thought to help stimulate activity that just isn’t there. Part of what causes anxiety in certain people is an actual underproduction of brain activity.

If you have an overstimulated brain, which is also common in anxiety, this may not be a good treatment option. Always work with a qualified psychiatrist when trying new medications and determine what you think will work best. Having taken this medication and trying it for myself, I understand why it’s not commonly prescribed for anxiety and tough to get.

Additionally, I want to make it clear that just because Adderall works for your anxiety does not mean that you originally had ADD or ADHD. Although anxiety can be a comorbid diagnoses with ADD, don’t automatically assume you have ADD or a variation because this drug works. This medication “works” for a lot of different things including narcolepsy.

In people without ADD and/or ADHD the potential for Adderall abuse increases significantly; hence it being a highly regulated substance.

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63 thoughts on “Adderall For Anxiety Disorders: A Counterintuitive Treatment Option”

  1. My Oncology Psychiatrist tried something with me that no other Psychiatrist ever bothered to do… he asked me about a million questions about my symptoms, really listened to my answers, and we started to fix my mind! I did NOT want anything systemic ever again, and somehow he suggested Adderall for my excessively compulsive thoughts and behaviors.

    And after some tweaking of dosage, it works! I am not 100% cured by any means, because I have a lot of other things going on, a lot of anxiety disorders, bipolar, severe depression etc., but I can have a conversation now instead of turning into a ball of emotional goo.

    I can stop the really strange compulsive behaviors that I KNOW are wrong but just couldn’t STOP before. I can focus thoughts into cohesive sentences now and have a discussion. I feel like maybe I could go out in public and talk to someone…soon.

    So, we can’t really explain WHY it works… but it does! I am working on my agoraphobia now with thoughts that maybe I really could beat it, and it’s because I see this working so well for me in other areas. Long story (not) short, it gives me hope and makes me think I really could “fix” some of me.

    It is a good tool. No matter what anyone else says. You don’t ALWAYS have to fit into a box, with one title or one easy little diagnosis. Sometimes it’s messy & more complicated & you need to find a Dr. who cares enough to help.

  2. I tried everything from SSRIs to a SNRI, and benzos, herbal supplements… Nothing worked better than Adderall to help calm negative intrusive thoughts and prevent over-focusing (to a point). Benzos numbed me out and made me sleepy, but still not able to think clearly. I feel a pronounced clarity, increased confidence in my social skills, and less unsure of what to do or say.

    I was a health nut before taking Adderall, and nothing seemed to help much at all. My only concern with Adderall was being too passive (okay with everything), and the crash, even at a low-dose. But, I was up and out the door, not obsessing or over-worrying, calm and collected, but less creative, much less.

    Anyway, I am wondering if there is an alternative, other dopamine substances on the market that are less dangerous for you. (I tried Dex, and Vyvanse, not calming at all). Best of luck to everyone.

    • I wasn’t able to read everyone’s comments to their fullest because I bounce around a lot. However, I have to agree that everyone is different, and everyone needs help in different ways. As far as the one being attacked if you will, and called a “know it all” and her thoughts of not being liked are real… well that was an a-hole move.

      The way I read that post was, you can tell she/he wrote that with anxiety behind it, and for someone to tell he/she whoever wrote that, her thoughts and fears are real, and no one likes her/him because they are a “know it al jerk” is just the worst thing anyone can say. From experience my own social anxiety I tend to turn to what I know, and what I have learned to strike a conversation with ppl.

      My anxiety triggers me to behave as if I am a genius, and start speaking in textbook formality, to a group of ppl I know well, and a group of ppl I just met. It is the other people’s perspective of me thinking I am a “know it all” when really it’s how my brain tells me society will only accept me if I have things to offer, my brain automatically goes to “I need to behave as if I am smart and have a lot of really good information to share.

      I also become argumentative or if you will rebuttals tend to be my go to” not that I want to resist and argue. But anxiety makes your brain process things very differently. So be kind. This is a forum that should help support, and understand those who suffer from similar day to day anxiety and stressors.

      P.S. adderall has saved my life as well. When you truly need it, and do not abuse it, it calms your mind enough to think about one thing at a time, slows down impulsiveness, and allows you to listen instead of talk a million miles an hour in social settings. It has helped me sleep better, and over all feel better. But it is not for everyone.

  3. I have been prescribed Adderall for my anxiety and really helps me with what you have listed under 2, 3, 4 and 5. And I only take it when I need it I don’t want to become dependent on a pill to live my life.

  4. I’ve just been prescribed the tiniest dose of Adderall (2.5mg twice a day or as needed) for Anxiety/ADHD. It’s like somebody just put a warm, cozy sweater on my mind. Now that we’re comfortable, we can get to work.

    It’s only been a few days but I am so… comfortable, for a change. I will be curious to see how it feels over the long term. I love that I don’t have to take it daily, like SSRIs which, it turns out, I don’t metabolize well anyway.

    Wishing everyone here a calm, bright, fun and healthy life. xo

  5. Can’t we all just agree adderall works for some and not others? I’ve always has intense social shyness, think everyone is looking at me or talking about me. Effexor was the best at curing these thoughts, along with age. After I had my children, I was prescribed adderall for depression (I’d sleep all day). It made my long battle with social anxiety sky high however, it helped everything else.

    I no longer felt overwhelmed, I could tackle my problems. I just felt like everyone was looking at me while I did it. My doc does actually prescribe xanax with the adderall *shock* for sleep… just like with effexor. The side effects of adderall kind of suck. Your mind will want to do more, organize things… It’s meant to help people who cannot focus. I don’t think it’s great for depression but it does wonders on my anxiety.

  6. I was prescribed adderall when I was in fifth grade for ADHD. At first it was amazing I could focus and get stuff done. But it did anything but make me more social. After about a year I began to develop anxiety and depression, but wasn’t aware of what it was. In the middle of seventh grade I was put on Zoloft. And now I’m also on Wellbutrin.

    Adderall gives me terrible anxiety, but I can’t function without it. I hate it. It feels as if it sucks the soul out of you. I don’t even know who I am anymore because I don’t know what’s me and what’s the drugs. The short term affects are amazing, but the long term effects cause depression and anxiety, and if you already have a mental illness it may make it worse. This may not be the case for everyone.

    • There ARE alternatives to ADHD and ADD other than Adderall that I would suggest you look into. I hope you find a better solution that doesn’t cause suffering.

    • Miranda, try .25 to 1 mg of Xanax with your Adderall and see if it makes a difference. It doesn’t take much Xanax to do the trick but be sure to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice or you’ll hurt your liver in the long term. Check with your doctor. For me the Adderall solves depression and ADHD, and yes it does help with social anxiety, but a small amount Xanax takes all of the edge off.

      • LOL, at any doctor RXing Adderall and Xanax together. They call that the “Elvis diet”, and one would need a super liberal Shrink to prescribe such a mix. I’m not saying it’s not a plausible combo, just that with the mighty hand of the FDA and DEA, one won’t find many if any willing to do it.

  7. After reading this forum, I’ve realized that people with anxiety are just very defensive. Why is everyone attacking each other for giving input on a situation that they are personally going through. All of us are made up of completely different genetic makeup. Meaning that, what May kill me, would make your life a lot better.

    This article was beautifully written and gave some good information on a New road to go down if the current one is too rigid. Everyone stop yelling at each other and let’s find a way for all of us individually to get rid of this 7th layer of Hell we call “anxiety.”

  8. I suffer from AvPD and consequently very low self seem that causes social anxiety in the rare social situations I face. ADD medication was amazing for me to start saying yes to hanging out with fried. Before I would only go out with my friends of there was alcohol involved, and I would proceed to drink over 10 beers to reduce anxiety but of course I’d only end up making a fool of myself.

    With Adderal I have all the confidence alcohol would give me without acting like a drunk. It allowed to finally meet girls and have them actually interested in me. Now I’m not cured from AvPD. But I hang out with my friends much more often (once or twice a month) and I have at most 3 or 4 drinks (I’m a big guy).

    So I guess it really depends on the root of your anxiety, in my case, adderall gave a boost of self-esteem and it made more talkative, which was something I needed in my life. This is why we should have more freedom when it comes to drugs. If I were to say to a doctor that I wanted a adderall prescription to take once or twice a week to feel better, they would never allow me to have it… and I would keep drinking like a bum.

    Give the people drug education and free-will!

    • I stopped hanging out with friends because of what you described. I would get so drunk “automedicating” my insecurities and my lack of confidence and it would make me feel great for a minute, but then I would just make a fool of myself… and not even remember any of it. I was prescribed Adderall a couple months ago, and I am not only less Anxious, but more focused, more active and have a way healthier lifestyle.

      I don’t feel the need to drink a million drinks in social settings to calm my anxiety, and instead of hiding from society, I feel like reconnecting with people – even the ones I made myself look like a fool at one point in life. For years, people told me that I was fine and that everything was in my head… What a great help for my low self-esteem: “now I am not just very anxious but I am crazy as well.”

      I was hitting rock bottom and had anxiety for EVERYTHING in life; indeed, I was diagnosed with GAD and depression. Adderall has improved so many aspects of my life, I am making changes slowly and feel so much more confident. For a long time I just did not want to believe that I might need something to help me in life (because of what people would tell me), that I could just overcome anything if I would put your mind to it; well, NOPE!

      I tried yoga, meditation, acupuncture, Kava root, weed (makes me way more anxious), moving to another State (yes, I did, to escape from my reality), isolating myself, nothing!! Some people need an extra help and there is nothing wrong with that. Just like we need food and vitamins, some people need Adderall – I know I do.

  9. After over a year of paranoid psychotic episodes and ptsd problems I asked my Dr for adderall for concentration not thinking it was going to help those problems. I was already prescribed klonopin for panic attacks. When taken at the normal 40mg a day dose this drug has completely changed everything for the better. It’s given me control over my brain for the most part.

    People don’t scare me, I’m not paranoid about much anymore, and things I didn’t understand that made me go insane and believe these delusions have started making sense and I’m able to control my impulses so much more. It’s like a pill of truth. I couldn’t see how my actions were affecting myself and others, but this drug has made me very insightful. Not a cure all but I wouldn’t have made all the progress I have made with adderall.

    So bizarre how this powerful stimulant when properly taken takes away the paranoia, I’m very grateful for this drug.

  10. I’m so happy you made this article. I thought I was the only one who noticed a decrease in anxiety once I started this medication. I am 19 years old and I’ve been prescribed anti-anxiety medications to help with my anxiety and insomnia but I found that it just made me drowsy and actually made my insomnia worse because I would feel so drowsy during the day that at night all I wanted to do was watch movies.

    It was a little tricky at first but once I figured out the right dose and schedule, I find my insomnia has improved as well due to the come down of the medication. Since the come down is calm, I’m able to fall sleep more easily. I also found a correlation between my insomnia and anxiety. On days where I sleep less than 5 hours, my anxiety becomes significantly worse. I guess I have the form of anxiety that you described as stemming from under stimulation. I would like to mention that my anxiety isn’t the “typical” kind.

    I don’t “feel anxious” I just suffer from the physical effects of it. I become sweaty, experience numbness in my face, all the while feeling jittery and self conscious. Then once I’m alone, I become so depressed and unmotivated. It wasn’t uncommon for me to spend the entire day in bed. Or entire weekends without ever leaving the house. I knew I didn’t really have adhd when I went to the doctor. I would just feel so anxious and depressed all the time that I had no motivation to do anything. In high school it was fine, because I did well on tests so I maintained high grades.

    Initially I asked my doctor for the medication with the thought that it would help me get some studying done. Now that I’m in college, I can’t get by on my own intelligence anymore and actually have to sit down and study. But my mental health conditions just made it so difficult. I had no idea that once I started the adderall I would notice my anxiety, depression and insomnia improve. I actually thought it would make it worse. I did notice, however if I take the medication on days where I will have “typical” anxiety, such as during presentations or performances, or during work (I still don’t know why my job makes me anxious but it does) the adderall worsens the somatic effects of my anxiety and it can lead to heart palpitations.

    So I just avoid the medication on these types of days. I have an addictive personality, so I try to lay off the meds whenever I can. I don’t take it on days when I work or on the weekends unless I have to study. I’m on a small dose, and want to keep it that way so by limiting the days I take it, I feel like I can avoid my body becoming tolerant. Overall, this medication has helped me significantly. I feel normal now, I have hope, optimism for the future. I would have days where I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to tomorrow.

    I know my demons still hang over my head and no medicine will make them go away, but just living a day without them controlling my life has been so freeing. I don’t know how long I will stay on Adderall. I’m hoping that they will become more manageable as I get older. On a side note- I noticed a huge increase in my cravings for cigarettes once I started adderall. I used to smoke about 5 sticks a day, but when I’m on adderall, I can smoke half a pack. I wonder why this is?

    I’m not complaining, quitting my nicotine habit isn’t too high on my priority list (I figure I’m young, will probably quit once I have a real job) just a little side effect I noticed from the adderall. Again, thanks for writing this! I hope more physicians will consider adderall an effective treatment for anxiety caused by under stimulation. For now, I’m just going to tell my doc it’s helping my “adhd.”

  11. I have found that adderall is the only thing that helps my anxiety, after nearly 20 years of trying every other drug. I have not found it to be addictive as was the lorazepam I was given . Withdrawal was horrible on lorazepam! But I have been off and on adderall several times with no problem.

  12. Well, my boundless joy cannot be contained now that I have found an article that has cemented my convictions about how, Adderall, at least in part, can heal an anxious mind. We have been lied to. Speed does not kill, it makes us more alive. I would love to convince my Pdoc of this wonder nugget, but I don’t think she would buy what I am selling. She is a rabid “anti-adderallite”. Not to be confused with Seinfeld, the rabid anti-dentite. She likes the Modafinil and Nuvigil though. More on that later in this long diatribe of a post…

    Anyway, I have OCD and all that comes with it. Won’t get into specifics, because just about anyone who is reading this, I’m sure, knows what is involved with this torturous, complex, biological disease. It has been my constant friend for over 36 years. I tried a course of medications in my early twenties, but it did not bode well. No SSRI’s back then. I could not take the side effects of MAOI’s or tricyclics. Should have done CBT, but it was too expensive. I am doing it now though.

    And hey, I was in college and didn’t want to be a medical malcontent through what was the best time in my life. I had beer to drink and women to conquer dammit! Who needs good mental health at 21? Ah, the 70’s and 80’s. I knew them well. Fast forward to 2013, and through a series of deaths and financial misfortune, I could not put my finger in the dyke any longer. Cracks were getting bigger and the flood of anxiety just burst through the dam. Off to the medical professionals I went.

    The last two years have been an SSRI, and various “other drug” roller coaster ride to see which one could finally put the brakes on my Anxiety/OCD. Up first was Luvox. Luvox was good. I was on it the longest. It was an OCD hammer. After three months of taking the drug it finally kicked in. Driving was pleasurable. I could actually talk to people – in public! However, my new found mental freedom was to be short lived because when you are hammer, everything else is nail. Not only did Luvox deconstruct my OCD, it also helped me join the ranks of the walking dead.

    I was officially a zombie, but without the whole “I need brains” part. Which, was not a bad thing, at first. Zombification was a welcome feeling compared to the decades long psycho circus that was going on in my head. Nothing was left except a few clown cars and stray elephants. Luvox was the ring master that kept the OCD stragglers in their respective corners and away from the forefront of my consciousness – and I liked it! I was no longer a slave to feeling every emotional molecule in the universe, being forever hyper-vigilant and bowing to the ever persistent whims of rumination and checking rituals. It was pure mental freedom.

    As long as I could move about with a shuffled gate that could only be mistaken for your average street zombie, I was still moving ahead, and that was good enough. However, my forward progress was slowed by the onslaught of exhaustion and the need to nap. Yes, I was now the first ever, sleeping zombie. And turning down the dosage did nothing. Even at the low end of the prescription spectrum, I was never to become the walking kind of zombie again. “Sleep” was my mantra, no brains.

    So, we try Modafinil to stay awake. Does nada at 300mg. At 600mg we are feeling good, but we cannot take that amount for a sustained period of time. Our internal organs could explode. And after its effects have left the party, the crash, it cometh. Now we are over stimulated, shaky, can’t sleep, and headaches are involved. No more Modafinil. Onto Prozac. Not bad. Three months in, and it, too, makes me sleepy and stimulated at the same time. Don’t know how those polar opposite feelings occupy the same space, but they did, and it was not a good feeling at all. No more Prozac. Still tired? Well, you want to try Nuvigil?

    Oh, you mean the patent extender of Modafinil but much more expensive? Sure, why not. I was able to get on the MAP (Medical Assistance Program) and my normally 300 dollar a bottle of Nuvigil was now 4 dollars. I was good to go. Strike two. Nuvigil, like Modafinil, works at the high end, but does not perform at the “mg” it’s is currently prescribed. Another one goes down. Put that up on the shelf with the other medical contenders for my mental appeasement. How about Gabapentin? Yea, it makes all the right chemical moves in all the right places. Bathes the brain in GABA. Not taxing on the liver. Doesn’t hit the addiction center in the brain. Might work to ease anxiety.

    Let’s give it shot. And, a shot, I did receive. Now I have a nice, albeit little, scare under my chest from the rash I got from it. Well, there’s always Nortriptyline. Yes, and that is why I am writing this post at 4:30 in the morning because it is suppose to help me to sleep better. This has been day three and the same reaction has happened each time. I take 10mg of Aventyl at 8:00 pm and it is guaranteed to keep me up till at least six in the morning. Please don’t ask why we agreed on Aventyl. I was part of that decision for reasons that I cannot explain here. I am already working on a War & Peace novel in the form of this post.

    Then I have to take Diphenhydramine to get to sleep. I won’t be taking Aventyl tomorrow, after I sleep away, well, most of tomorrow. So, with all that being said, what does any of this rambling diatribe have to do with Adderral and it’s affect on the anxiety ridden masses? While I was withdrawing from Prozac, and oh yea, a low dose of Valium (forgot to mention I took that too – did not do a thing for anxiety) I was hit with about two weeks of some really bad depression. The kind I had not experienced in a long time. It was a mental gut shot. Nausea, headache, and the overall feeling of being extremely low down.

    But I have “gutted out” worse and did not feel the need to get my Pdoc involved, because this too shall pass. For whatever reason, I was looking over the various bottles of med’s that wound up on the “also tried” list and was drawn to the half used bottle of Nuvigil. Don’t ask me why I thought it might help me “clean up the funk” that had invaded my brain, but I cut the tab in half with a razor and took about 150mg of it, consequences be damned. And I immediately thought after taking said Nuvigil, that this was a stupid idea. What if it increases my depression and anxiety levels? I needed a powerful Benzo or something that would calm me down not jack me up.

    But, I had an overwhelming need to put some hep in my step, and pride in my stride. I was willing to take a little discomfort post Nuvigil crash, so I could get out of my own head and regain some energy – if possible. It had been about a month since I had taken the drug so I really thought it would not even work. Especially since I cut it in half. But, stranger things have happened and they did. Nuvigil, surprise it to say, cured my depression at least temporarily. I started taking the full dose every day and within a few weeks, I wouldn’t say I was back to full steam, but I was no longer a sad sack and relatively happy. No OCD either.

    Until I read this article, I did not think that my hypothesis that Adderall or any other amphetamine or dopamine enhancing drug could help people with anxiety, just make it worse. But, I now had proof that it did work for depression, which is the wonder twin of co-morbidity that accompanies OCD and most anxiety disorders. And, it is the one that stays with me the most. Yea, OCD and anxiety is always there, but the depression can be very debilitating as well.

    You could make the argument that since Prozac has a long half-life, that I still was jacked up on serotonin and it played a bigger part in my rapid recovery from dumpster town. And I would say no, because the withdrawal, or whatever was happening to me at the time, was causing the problem. Nuvigil was the cure. And I am not saying that everyone should get on Adderrall, Ritalin, or Provigil, if you are having anxiety problems. But it is a component that needs to be explored.

    And everyone with anxiety will have their own bio-chemical individuality. Stims like Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, will be a hard sell to a medically entrenched community that does not think that any of these drugs should be part of the equation when it comes to treating OCD related anxiety, and certainly not panic disorder. I cannot get Adderrall for that very reason. When I asked my Pdoc if she would consider it, she said no, because it will increase my anxiety levels.

    I think she also afraid of any legal consequences as well, since it is high up on the “schedule”, and you have to specifically prescribe it for ADD/ADHD. She does now like to off label this category of drugs. Docs are very skiddish about prescribing stims, and would rather go the SNRI route or alternatives like Wellbutrin, Concerta, or Strattera. I realize that Adderall is not to be taken lightly, but being overly cautious doesn’t help either.
    I would love to try it and see if it works. I think it would provide a cleaner energy and better focus then Nuvigil. I would not take it everyday, and don’t like being a slave to any drug. Plus, I am afraid of dependency.

    And, while I don’t think that this drug will work in the same way it worked for me, or anyone else who has derived a positive experience from it’s use, (I have a friend who has OCD and Anxiety and he quit taking Ritalin after one week – made his skin crawl – he had bad crashes as well) I do think that there is a thin slice of the population that can benefit from it’s addition to their daily regimen. Like I said before, OCD is a complex problem. How much is too much Adderrall or any substance that keeps dopamine level high?

    Can the beneficial effects be sustained over a long period of time? What happens if it stops working? Then there is the issue of addiction and dependency issues. All of which is up for consideration and debate. But, I will tell you that Nuvigil, in times of depressive crisis has worked for me. It made me a chatty, happy person, that wasn’t afraid to say hello to complete strangers. Adderall, I’m sure, does not solve the whole puzzle of anxiety. But at least I know it’s mechanism of action, is a piece of the puzzle I no longer have to search for to assist me in my continued recovery. Be well, all. Keep calm and carry on. -Robert.

    • Appreciate you sharing your story. Oddly enough, my psychiatrist refuses to prescribe Provigil and/or NuVigil and prefers to prescribe Vyvanse (or Adderall). I had suggested to trying NuVigil as I thought the drug would be “cleaner” and he said that Vyvanse is just as safe, etc.

      While I don’t agree, I think that your experience (as well as mine) show that increasing dopamine levels can be effective for certain people in the treatment of anxiety (at least over the short-term). Whether there are significant long-term implications from taking dopaminergics is another story. Glad you found something that works.

      • Hey Gloom… Ha! Maybe we should switch Pdoc’s! Wow, it is amazing how different opinions are in this field! Would love to try Vyvanse or Adderall. Nuvigil is good, but, like I said, it is hit or miss. But, when depression struck, it handled it like a champ. It was a happy accident. I hope that at some point, you can convince your mental health professional to try either Nuv-Pro, because it just might be a “cleaner” drug for you.

        If you are having the jitters, grinding your teeth, or feel like your skin is crawling after you take V or A then it definitely is worth a shot. Anyway, as I mentioned before. I dig your blog. Thanks for letting me vent… On hale it up.. -Robert

  13. After signifigant experience in dealing with anxiety and chronic depression, I believe that Adderall, not Prozac or Viagra, will turn out to be the wonder drug of the last 30-40 years. I can truthfully describe my life as B.A. and A.A. -before & after Adderall. And I have tried EVERYTHING at 60 years of age. Just imagine the possibilities of this med! It will be a less hurtful inner world for untold millions!

  14. I am here because I am and have been dealing with PTSD for 12 yrs. My treatments have been with social workers and more VA doctors than I can count. I have tried every benzo and dosage and nothing really works. I basically feel tranquilized and no sense of well being, feeling of dread, social anxiety, and nightmares linger in the fog. I have problems with the focus of work and projects, let alone with communication and compassion problems with people. I have had a better time of things with this medication and Medical Grade pot (2 joints a day). This medication allows me to focus on the prize and not over stimulate on my surroundings. (I still notice every person in a waiting room and have my self comforting corks) the MG mellows me. It does not turn me into a drooling wet wash cloth on the couch with no self drive. I feel that this route of relief will never be mainstream and may not get the research.

    • I used to lament the same sad imagining; that pot would never be mainstream. But I think it just- may! It’s legal in how many states now? The truth is, Cannabis prohibition has caused more conflict, and cost and ruined more American lives in the past year than marijuana ever has, WORLDWIDE, or ever will. Watch the film “Culture High” on Netflix. You’ll feel even better about your meds.

  15. I started taking Adderall because one of the things I have is ADHD, in addition to social anxiety and OCD. I have found the it does work wonders for my social anxiety. I wasn’t expecting that pleasant side effect at all because my DR warned it could make it worse. It might make OCD thoughts increase a little but at the same time when I’m on Adderall, I don’t worry about them as much. Still trying to figure it out long term, I’ve only been on it off and on since April. There is a crash when you go off it for a few days so I might start taking it 7 days a week till it no longer works. From what I hear it can lose its effectiveness over time with some people.

    • Hello JW -Are you still taking Adderall? I was wondering how this has affected your OCD symptoms now that its been a year since your post. My son has OCD and ADD. The Dr has prescribed Adderall and this concerns me.

  16. Very good informative comments. They helped me as I am debating whether to take adderall for my add and social anxiety. My greatest fear is to get addicted. I’m not sure How to tell if I have an addictive personality or not. How can I find more about that? What helped you in this case?

    • You can take an official personality test. Have you ever been addicted to anything in the past? If no, chances are you don’t have an addictive personality. I’d look more into this if in your shoes.

  17. Hello,

    I like very much that you are speaking to the subject of “counterintuitive” drug responses. When first diagnosed with ADHD,
    I was prescribed Adderol in accelerated dosing. From the outset it put me to sleep. I could barely work (high responsibility demanding high creativity) but my psychiatrist tripled original dose. I would get through long weeks, only to sleep until noon on weekends (and my little girl was five).

    Now that little girl is almost 19. She took an old Adderol on the morning of her ACT test last fall. It so calmed and focused her that she is now taking for anxiety, though sans ADHD.

    Lots of questions; lots of possibilities. You are good to share in such straightforward manner.


  18. I have had similar experiences with Adderall, given that I take the proper dose. I suffer from general anxiety as well as an eating disorder, and have found that contrary to most of research I’ve done and what I have been told by my psychiatrist, Adderall has actually helped relieve some of my symptoms. I have found that I am calmer when studying (I usually experience intense anxiety when I take tests), and though I’m not sure if this is caused by being aware of the fact that focusing is easier, I just feel more confident and am able to perform better on tests. What is even stranger is that Adderall, which is supposed to suppress one’s appetite, has actually made it possible for me to eat meals without rushing through them due to feelings of intense anxiety. I also don’t feel such an intense urge to restrict my intake. I don’t know what you think about this, but I really do believe that my underproduction of brain activity is what causes my anxiety, because when I become incredibly anxious when I use cannabis or drugs that are supposedly helpful when “relaxing”.

    • If prescribed by a psychiatrist and if it is GAD the will normally give you ativan, xanax, klonopin, or Valium to offset the attack. I know this because I’m there. I do not take Adderall because of an interaction with one of my meds. I take vyvanse. I get the jitters, but I have PTSD so it’s common and I am kind of use to it. Each drug is going to act differently upon each person. If you do not like the way it makes you feel, there are other alternatives and some they leave on the back-burner because of addiction and so forth. I wish you the best of luck.

  19. This has helped me out so much! I too have severe Social Anxiety, I’m in my house almost 24/7. I’m now perscribed Lexapro 20mg (was taking 10mg just about 2 weeks ago, but I upped it thinking it would help me more.) I’m also prescribed 2mg Xanax up to 3 times per day. I’ve noticed myself coming up short on the Xanax, because they’re both NOT taking care of my Social Anxiety. I noticed with my Daughter that she was very hyper, didn’t listen, had horrible tantrums, & wasn’t doing too great in school (especially reading.) Anyways, I took her to my psychiatrist & he put her on Adderall. First 7 days 5mg & then to try 10mg after that. I kept her on the 5mg for 11 days first and today put her on 10mg. It’s working wonders with her attitude, she’s more calm in a rough situation, she listens much better & she’s also hasn’t had not one tantrum. I’m very happy with her experience! Since she has these pills, I decided to try them, after talking to my friend who has the same issues and also after reading up on Adderall. I feel much calmer than normal. I feel like I want to go outside & actually get out of my house. Not that I’m running around like a maniac or anything. I just feel like I can accomplish the things I need to in a day. Before I tried it, I felt sad, useless, suicidal, & just plain crappy. I’m going to my psychiatrist this Friday to talk to him about putting me on Adderall as well. I hope that he will help me. I’m tired of trying other SSRI’s. I’ve gone through at least 7-10 of them in the past 2 years. Thanks for listening! Lindsey :)

    • Hey Lindsey! When you go, take your computer, smartphone or tablet if you can, with all of your research pulled up. You’ll dazzle him!

      When you do get put on a regular adult dose, you may be surprised! You still won’t be running around like a maniac (hope not; counterproductive, that.) but you might feel more optimistic. Adderall “wakes up” the executive function of the brain. That’s right; the (ahem) head of the head. The big cheese. Makes it a little easier to decide how to approach things. You feel more prepared somehow. You feel more in charge of yourself.

      Who’s to say you don’t have a mild case of ADHD? It’s starting to look like these disorders mix all too well. I know I had both, with severe Major Depressive Disorder, and riotous, complex PTSD. Adderall is no panacea, but it has, quite literally been a lifesaver. Best of luck!

  20. This article describes me perfectly in terms of what taking Adderall does for me. It calms me and actually does calm my senses which is weird, because it “shouldn’t”. I have General Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia and a lot of my issues come from being very sensitive to my surroundings. I don’t know why it works for me or how, but it does. I don’t take it often – only as needed for certain events/occasion/situations, but when I do, it can be a real life-saver (theoretically speaking).

  21. Funny. I actually take xanax and it really doesn’t help my anxiety much anymore. I took 1 5mg Aderall for a few days and I jad no anxiety and it just made me feel normal. Can you substitute aderrall for xanax?

    • Talk to your psychiatrist or a professional about it. It’s not a typical treatment option, just something to consider if traditional treatments aren’t working.

    • In my personal opinion, that would be a bad idea. I’m pretty sure I could confirm what the above person (Jamie) said. Recently I’ve realized I have GAD, and hadn’t known up until this point. Lately my mind has been foggy, and lots of things have been going differently. I am diagnosed with ADHD, and so when I decided to switch from Ritalin to Aderall (I believe they are two different categories of ADHD medications), everything was alright. There was no issue.

      I started taking Aderall last October, and let me tell you xD I’ve been having a lot of issues. Everything was fine for about a year, at least up until these past 2/3 months or so. So yay! But talk to your doctor about it, everyone is different I suppose. I’m just really glad I stumbled upon Jamie’s response. Seriously had no idea what was up with my mind, figured it was my meds, and I just need to get away from medications for a while xD

      • Keep in mind that something else could have changed in your life that may have caused the exacerbation of your anxiety. For instance, I too have GAD and ADHD and started Adderall last October. I was fine for the first three months on medication but lost my cookies in the fourth. In the third month, I had also started taking birth control.

        For a while I was afraid because the adderall still worked very well and I did not want to have to switch medications, but then I had a realization and searched my particular birth control and found that many people reported horrible panic attacks after being on it for about a month. I still take both medications, though, because I also found that eating better and using coping mechanisms given by my therapist made an enormous difference.

        Sometimes also a major event in your life or having to change off-brands of your medication can also make it work differently.

        • I was on adderall for a while and it also made my anxiety really bad. I then switched to dexedrine IR and it is a million times smoother and doesn’t give me any anxiety. I know a lot of people get anxiety from adderall because of its levoamp content whereas dexedrine is just straight dexamp so it’s a lot smoother.

  22. Short-term, adderall may help with anxiety. Long-term, it really isn’t a good idea. I was prescribed adderall for ADHD, but I also have an anxiety disorder. It helped decrease anxiety at first, but after being on the drug for over a year, it did the exact opposite. It increases dopamine and norepinephrine.

    Raising dopamine is dangerous and can cause stimulant psychosis in those susceptible to it, resulting in paranoid, anxiety, and hallucinations and Norepinephrine, an excitatory neurotransmitter, can cause increase anxiety as well. The potential side effects outweigh the benefits of using it to treat anxiety disorders. Adderall is a drug that causes serious changes in the way the brain functions and serious withdrawal symptoms when trying to come off of it.

    A pill will not fix your problems. Sure, it may mask them. The best way to treat anxiety is through behavior modification. I would not promote the use of adderall to anyone with anxiety due to its negative side effects. This is also the reason why it isn’t used for anxiety disorders. I am having one hell of a time trying to detox from the drug, despite the fact that it’s causing so much damage physically and psychologically.

    • Jamie, not everyone shares your same experience with this medication. Medications affect everyone in unique ways – regardless of the drug. Sorry about your tough time detoxing.

    • Jaime,
      I find what you have to say very interesting. Someone who has anxiety is pretty much crapping on others who take a different approach to dealing with something that will forever haunt and be with them. I would think you would be understanding of others who choose to approach their issues in a different way.
      So what if a pill is needed to make someone feel safe. Behavior modification can only do so much. With someone like me, I have such a sever case of anxiety/depression that I can barley even control my behaviors half the time and have tried behavior modification and only makes my anxiety worse due to the fact that I don’t make progress. And along with that I have tried talk therapy, yoga, holistic approaches in medicine, common SSRI’s, benzo’s, you name it.. I’ve tried and the one thing that has worked and turned my life around is Adderall.
      Yes, adderall can most certainly be addictive when abused and if someone has a doctor that does not approach the situation correctly. Starting at a low dosage and taking it as prescribed, one may form a dependency on the drug but everyone in life needs help and so what if for some people that help comes in the form of a pill. One can depend on a pill as a crutch just as an old person depends on a cane to walk, would you then say an elderly man/woman can’t depend on a cane to walk?
      With anxiety, when you try every other option and they all fail you, what’s wrong with turning to a pill? And who’s to say that those POSSIBLE sides effects outweigh the benefits from using this drug to help those with anxiety. Severe cases of anxiety stay with you for life, there’s no getting rid of it. It’s a mind set that debilitates ones brain.
      And that’s not to say that everyone with anxiety’s brain is the same, because each and every person with anxiety has a very different brain. Maybe your case of anxiety meshed with your brain differently than others and that’s why you feel so strongly about this topic. However, I speak from experience on the other side of the debate. And I am not saying your opinion is wrong, but you cannot categorize everyone with anxiety into one group just based off of your experiences with it. Quite frankly, that is very self-centered and biased thing to say that offends someone like myself who has suffered from extreme, debilitating anxiety for 6 years before Adderall saved me. Although I am only 20 years old, I have matured and grown a lot due to my struggle with anxiety and it’s forced me to grow up much faster than those around me that are my age. And when Adderall came into my life, I was at one of my lowest points and was just about ready to give up on life and with it’s help I was able to go back to school and get my LNA license and afford to live on my own without needing outside assistance. Now I’d say that pill allowed me to fix my problems.
      Adderall has saved my life. I have terrible anxiety and it would keep me locked in my house and lying in bed for days. In that situation I think a stimulant is needed otherwise it’s a never ending spiral downward with a deepening depression attached that does nothing but paralyze you. Would you still say a pill is not the answer? It’s a defection in some peoples brains that they cannot control and is all consuming.
      I take a pill to fix “A” problem that allows me to fix all the others on my own. It by no means masks my problems but brings them to light in a way that I am able to approach without feelings of fear, panic, confrontation, and depression.
      Not everyone is the same and to try and turn people away from something like this is wrong. Everyones brains are different and will react differently to different forms of medication, whether that be with a pill or “behavioral modification”. Please don’t assume everyones the same just because of an experience you had. I respect both sides of the argument. A stimulant is most certainly not going to fix some peoples forms of anxiety but others it could change their life forever, and in a good way.

      • I find that you are attacking (not debating) Jamie for giving a counter-point is rude.

        “what’s wrong with turning to a pill?”
        The problem is we have built an industry that has changed what should be a last resort into a first one. You think an old person would still want the cane if they don’t need it? Most happy old people, with a cane, I know tend to try to use it as little as possible as they don’t want to be completely dependent on it.

        Your blocks of texts remind me almost exactly of my mindset and demeanor in my early 20s.

        Please don’t take this as judgement if it doesn’t apply to you, this is honest advice coming from my first impression of you:

        If you stop trying to constantly sound like an “enlightened” know it all, people tend to like you better. I’d imagine a lot of your anxiety comes from “a world that doesn’t understand you”
        Stop thinking you are better than people. Once you make more friends Anxiety tends to ease (I still have it, but it is much better). The paranoia you have about most people not liking you IS REAL, because YOU ARE A KNOW-IT-ALL JERK. Be a better person to be around and people will like you better. Everything you said here is very useful and good information, but you come off as a total asshole when you say it.

        • Lol … (maybehelping) now this is hilarious you defends Jamie by attacking (insider).

          I think you are Jamie … No Attack :-)

        • This is so mean…. How can you possibly tell someone with anxiety who struggles every day with paranoia that their paranoid, anxious thoughts are real and that no one actually likes them? I have debilitating anxiety and although I am a very nice person and I know I am a generally well-liked person, I get the same terrible, paranoid feelings.

          Even if a stranger told me over the internet that I was right and no one REALLY actually liked me, that would not only hurt but it would probably ruin all of the great progress I’ve worked SO hard to make with the social aspect of my anxiety thus far. Please try not to be so hypocritical or hurtful. At least consider how your words could affect someone (and how they would affect you if said to you) before you choose to speak…

          • Why do you folks insist on appealing to logical fallacies to support your position? You’ve committed a straw man fallacy, Jordan, though I agree with your position.

          • I’ve gotta say, Jordan. you are right! It really isn’t helpful to troll around, looking for people one can hurt. Remember, it isn’t that hard, and it sure as hell ain’t original to go around slinging mud at people. Discussion is wonderful, and several different people can have valid, thought-provoking points to make on several different sides of a topic.

            But cyber-bullying a total waste of time for everyone. You can do better, kinder and more productive things with your time, whoever you are! As far as Adderall and social anxiety: I do have a fairly galloping case of ADHD that was never treated during childhood, because my abusive mother said I “should just learn to concentrate.” A pantheon of mental health, she!

            I never did “just learn to concentrate,” until after my son called me from university, very upset. He wasn’t keeping up as well as he wanted to with his studies. The whole family (all four of us) got tested, and we all have it. We got tested in different places by different people and methods, too. It wasn’t a rubber=stamp affair.

            I feel pretty sure that, had I been on the medication all along, I never would have developed social anxiety, or agoraphobia. I know I would have done better at school. Fifteen years on, getting tested was one of the smarter things I’ve done.

            To the person who started us off, way up there; I really am sorry you’re having such a hard time. Just remember, doing what’s right for you isn’t always easy. but it does make it easier, in the end, to live with yourself.

        • Maybehelping: you sir are an ignorant a**hole. People with anxiety/depression, will wait to get that pill, long after they’ve been suffering through this hell that is taking place inside of their f*cking head. Racing with negative or just random uncomfortable thoughts that we can’t pinpoint, but try replace them with positive and more relaxing thoughts and doing that with an anxious/depressed brain is like trying to prove that a god exists. So, maybehelping, when clearly you’re not, comments like the ones you were making, could metaphorically push someone right over that edge. Please choose your words wisely especially on a forum like this.

      • I totally agree…Adderall (Vyvanse is better, admittedly) helps my PTSD and other anxiety more than anything… I can control my brain.

      • Thanks for your beautiful comments; I could never have expressed my thoughts and feelings as succinctly and clearly as you do. You have truly spoken to me.

      • Wow! It’s nice to know there is someone else out there that has had the same struggle as myself. Thank you so much for your words and defending those of us who know the true struggle! It would be great to talk with you more on this topic!

      • Hi Jaime your post really spoke volumes about what I have experienced for almost 20 years with no successful treatment on anti-depressants and anxiolytic medications like lorazepam – which I feel help but I get a serious rebound anxiety when they wear off. Anti-depressants leave me sleeping for 12-16 hours a day, and little to no energy to pursue activities or have motivation to want to engage in anything. I literally sleep 12-14 hours, wake up tired, drink 2 cups of coffee and spend the whole day in a vegetative state, complacent that I am not extremely depressed and crying, but wishing that I could be more productive as I use to be.

        I feel that I suffer from crippling social anxiety, and just lack the motivation and focus to pursue activities that I once enjoyed. I am an extremely intelligent and thoughtful person yet cannot harness my brains natural potential due to my obsessiveness and anxiety about just about everything. I get anxiety just thinking about my anxiety. MatthewEBrown83[@]gmail.com

    • Jamie, that’s different than what this article is talking about. Your experience is with sustained use of the drug, while this article talks about only using it sparingly to give yourself a boost here and there. This is a method I have used as well and it worked wonders for me. It gives you the opportunity to start becoming comfortable in social situations, to experience what it feels like to be normal. After a while, you condition yourself to not need the drug anymore, as you’re able to grow comfortable with life.

      There isn’t really anything else out there that can give a person with severe social anxiety the feeling of what it’s like to just be confident and happy, while not also drugged out of their mind. It’s a very valuable psychology experience, it’s therapy.

        • Ya I totally agree with you man! My Dr. has me use dexedrine for break though acute depression and it works really well. If I feel a depressive cycle coming on I take my 20mg dose and go about my day and this has kept me depression free for months! If I’m having a rough week I sometimes will take it twice a week and then I will sometimes go a solid month without taking any.

          I’m not saying this would work for everyone and I can see how you could easily become addicted to it, but for me it’s worked wonders. It’s definitely an invaluable treatment option for someone with horrendous depression.

    • Hey, Jamie. Just wanted to say I’m really blown away by how sensitive some of the people are being down below (or up above now). It’s very rude and ugly, and all in the name that /you’re/ the one being rude… egad. Strange that they can’t seem to differentiate between vanity and assertion.

      At any rate, I thought it was pretty obvious where you were coming from (so obvious I’m STILL in a state of shock) and thought I should write and reaffirm–it’s not you, it’s them, and it’s them. You’re better off sticking to your gut and ignoring it. Peace.


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