ADHD Adderall and Anxiety How They’re Connected
ADHD Adderall and Anxiety How They’re Connected

Deciding whether to take prescription medication for ADHD can be challenging. You might ask yourself, 

“Is medication the right choice?” or “What are the side effects of the different medications?”

Taking medication for ADHD has pros and cons, but sorting through the facts, myths, and potential dangers is daunting. But a mental health professional can help you determine if a medication can reduce your mental illness symptoms and if it’s appropriate and safe for you to take.

One of the most prominent options you’ll likely hear about or have suggested to you as an individual with ADHD is Adderall. Adderall is a stimulant often used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. While effective in treating attention deficit disorder, it can also lead to anxiety. As someone with ADHD, you already deal with anxiety. 

So is Adderall really the right choice? 

What exactly is Adderall?

If you experience ADHD symptoms, you understand how troublesome it is when you don’t have control over your impulses. You may exhibit physical displays of hyperactivity, such as excessive talking, fidgeting, and frequent interrupting. 

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Adderall combines dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, which stimulate your nervous system and affect the chemicals in your brain that contribute to impulses and hyperactivity. So in other words, Adderall works to reduce these ADHD symptoms.

Adderall, and other stimulants, work to help your brain’s pathways function and process more efficiently, reducing symptoms of the three types of ADHD:

  • inattentive ADHD
  • hyperactive-impulsive ADHD
  • combined inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD

Do I Have to Worry About Adderall Causing Anxiety?

Yes, and no. That depends on several factors. 

Adderall can make you anxious, especially if you’re on a high dose. You may have trouble deciding if the drug worsens your anxiety since it is already a side effect of ADHD. If you abuse a stimulant like Adderall or take a dose other than recommended, there is an increased risk for additional anxiety. 

You may also be more sensitive to medications than other people. If that’s the case, stimulants like Adderall can put you into more of a fight or flight mode, while others may not be as affected by the nervous system stimulation. 

Techniques for Managing Anxiety When You Have ADHD 

ADHD and Anxiety

A common symptom of ADHD is anxiety. So it’s often difficult to tell if your anxiety began before the medication or maybe became exasperated by the meds. Either way, managing anxious feelings is vital for your overall well-being. Let’s look at several ways to start calming your nervous system and aiding your productivity regardless of your ADHD diagnosis. 

1. Start a “Miracle Morning” Routine

It’s common in our society for us to hit the snooze button repeatedly, almost dreading the start of our day. What if you tried getting up earlier to start your day fresh and invigorated?

Hal Elrod, the author and creator of Miracle Morning, claims that mindfulness techniques are a life-changing way to begin your day. I would argue that it’s a fantastic way to start your day, especially if you have ADHD.

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Taking roughly an hour at the start of your day can set you up for lasting success. This YOU time is set up to calm you and organize your thoughts. Imagine waking up warmly, looking forward to your special ritual.

Instead, most of us wake up at the last possible second, rushing around in chaos and anxiety to get out the door.

The principles Elrod discusses in the book are no secret. They are the same that a mental health professional would recommend for you to help manage your anxiety. Some of the points below relate to the principles of this morning routine, but they can be performed at any time of the day.

adderall and anxiety

2. Consider Meditation

Meditation is widely used to reduce stress and gain inner peace. You can practice this first thing in the morning, throughout the day, or before bed. During meditation, you’ll enter a tranquil space where you can get quiet and focus on weeding out any negative or interrupting thoughts from your mind.

This can be very difficult if you have ADHD, so guided meditation, where you listen to someone’s calm prompting to move into a meditative state, may be better for you. The physical and mental benefits of meditation have been practiced for thousands of years and are proven effective in helping people with ADHD and anxiety.

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3. Say Positive Affirmations

According to ADHD experts, having the condition often results in low self-esteem, which can contribute to anxiety. You may feel different or “not good enough” due to your diagnosis and difficulty managing symptoms.

Positive affirmations are a powerful way to replace any negative thoughts running through your mind. They are positive “I am” statements that put your mind into a positive mode and allow your mind to believe what you’re saying. They reduce negative thoughts and make you feel happier, therefore reducing anxiety. They even have the power to make you more productive and confident over time.

4. Practice Journaling


Whether your prescription for Adderall is causing anxiety or you’re dealing with anxiety not caused by the drug, writing in a journal before bed or in the morning is another way to relieve it.

You can organize your racing thoughts, set goals for the day, or set positive intentions before bed. Writing out emotional responses is an excellent way to practice mindfulness.
Doing so before bed can help you to sleep better. In fact, insomnia is known to improve with journaling since you are getting all those thoughts out and onto paper.

5. Be Mindful of Your Eating Habits

Certain foods can trigger anxiety, whether Adderall is causing it or not. For example, consuming too much caffeine can stimulate your nervous system further. Those that drink too much of this can feel shaky, nervous, or anxious even without stimulant medications.

Some sugary or processed foods can give you that ‘crash’ feeling and worsen anxiety as well, so it’s best to steer clear of these as much as possible.

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6. Exercise Regularly

Setting aside time to exercise is an excellent way to maintain overall health and reduce anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone, throughout your body, lessening stress and anxiety.

If you have ADHD and struggle with anxiety, whether caused by medication or not, you should pick an exercise regime you will enjoy and dedicate time to it as often as you can. Yoga, biking, and running are all examples of physical activity that can reduce your ADHD anxiety.

Talk To a Mental Health Professional About Adderall and Anxiety

If you struggle with anxiety or feel like Adderall for ADHD is the cause, talk to an expert. They can help you decide if your medication needs adjusting or if Adderall fits your diagnosis.

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Get ADHD Anxiety Treatment in San Diego at BOLD Health

At BOLD Health, our team of experienced mental health professionals is ready to look deeply at your diagnosis and help you decide on a path forward. At our facility, we treat the whole individual. We will ensure that all factors are considered when effectively managing your symptoms and getting to the root of your anxiety. We’ll look at Adderall and anxiety in the course of your treatment, to see if it’s right for you.

We offer several different options for anxiety treatment in San Diego, including our highly-acclaimed intensive outpatient program (IOP in San Diego). 

BOLD Health

Our IOP in San Diego fits into your life as a more rigorous yet non-invasive means of support. Individual and group therapy can help you investigate and overcome your anxiety struggles. Our professionals can recommend medication combinations or altered dosages to accommodate your journey to wellness. We’re ready to help you better manage your anxiety, with or without Adderall, and get you back to feeling energized, focused, and happy.

Contact us today to discuss our anxiety treatments in San Diego, including our IOP.

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