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.
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.