In some instances, antidepressants and Adderall may be prescribed in combination. If a person struggles with both depression and ADHD, there may be a need for both medications.
A doctor will monitor this situation carefully, ensuring there are no adverse effects. Doses may need to be adjusted.
People who are on antidepressants may try to abuse Adderall recreationally. Since there is no medical supervision in this situation, this can be very dangerous.
Antidepressants and Adderall
Antidepressants are a class of medications taken by nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2011 and 2014.
They are designed to control brain chemistry to influence moods, energy levels, sleep patterns, and symptoms of depression.
Around a quarter of those taking antidepressant medications have been taking them for at least a decade. They are often used for long-term management of depressive symptoms.
Adderall contains the active ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are stimulant drugs. The drug is most commonly prescribed to manage attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Co-Occurring Depression and ADHD
Between 35 and 50 percent of people diagnosed with ADHD will also experience major depressive disorder (MDD) at some point in their lifetimes. This high rate of co-occurrence often requires medication management, which may include the combination of an antidepressant with Adderall.
Typically, ADHD will be treated with Adderall first, and then an antidepressant may be added in. There are several classes of antidepressant medications, and some are safer to combine with Adderall than others.
Both of these classes of medications are also widely abused. Misuse of either or both can increase possible side effects and raise the risk for an adverse medication interaction.
Adderall and antidepressant medications can only be safely combined when directed by a medical professional and supervised closely.
Effects on Brain Chemistry
Antidepressant medications alter brain chemistry. Often, levels of serotonin and norepinephrine are altered to improve moods and depressive symptoms.
Serotonin is one of the brain’s chemical messengers that positively influences moods, while norepinephrine is involved in energy levels.
Dopamine is another chemical messenger involved in mood regulation, while epinephrine is what is known as adrenaline, the energy producer.
Safe Use of Stimulants and Antidepressants
According to ADDitude magazine, antidepressants and Adderall can work well together to treat both ADHD and depression.
Adderall will typically be the first medication introduced when depression and ADHD co-occur, as moods can improve with just the stimulant drug.
If moods do not improve, an antidepressant can be introduced. It is important to remember that antidepressants often take a few weeks to show noticeable improvements. You should continue the dosage as directed by your physician even if you don’t experience results. Once stabilization is reached, the stimulant drug dosage may be adjusted. A medical professional will determine the type of antidepressant and dosage that can be safely used with Adderall, when necessary.
Nonmedical Use of Adderall While on Antidepressants
Adderall has a high potential for misuse, particularly among college students. Between 2006 and 2011, misuse of this “study drug” among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 spiked 60 percent.
Misusing Adderall while taking an antidepressant can be very dangerous. It actually increases the rate of depression rather than helping the situation.
When you take a stimulant drug recreationally, or outside the bounds of a prescription, it can cause a euphoric high. It is followed by a comedown that usually involves fatigue and depression.
The Following are Other Potential Side Effects:
- Coordination issues
- Irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Sleep difficulties
Studies show that students who take medications prescribed for depression take stimulants four times as often as those not prescribed antidepressants.
Potential Risk Factors
The labeling information for Adderall warns that mixing the medication with other drugs, including many classes of antidepressants, can cause negative interactions. Users are specifically warned to not take Adderall with tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
These medications all interact on the serotonin system in the brain. The combination of Adderall with any of them can cause potentially life-threatening serotonin syndrome. Effects of the syndrome include:
- Irregular heart rate and blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Balance and coordination issues
- Muscle rigidity
- Overactive reflexes
- Muscle spasms
The Combination of Adderall and Antidepressants
In some cases, Adderall and antidepressants may be prescribed together if the person is struggling with both ADHD and depression. If the doctor sees fit and there is a need for both medications, the treating physician will monitor the situation carefully to ensure there aren’t any adverse effects. The dosage will likely be adjusted several times to iron out any kinks because those who are taking antidepressants may abuse Adderall recreationally. Due to a lack of supervision and trusting the patient, this can be dangerous.
A substantial portion of the adult population in the United States takes antidepressants. The drugs were created to control brain chemistry that’s responsible for influencing energy levels, mood, symptoms of depression, and sleep patterns. Nearly 25 percent of those who use antidepressant medication have taken them for at least ten years, and the drugs are most often used in the long term to manage depression.
Adderall is made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine; both are stimulant drugs. As was mentioned above, it’s most commonly used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since antidepressants affect brain chemistry to improve mood and depressive symptoms, taking them in conjunction with stimulants can sometimes cause adverse effects, such as addiction.
However, antidepressants and Adderall can also work extremely well when treating both depression and ADHD. Adderall is the most common medication introduced if ADHD and depression co-occur. Moods can improve with the stimulant drug alone. However, if the individual’s mood does not improve, antidepressants will be introduced, which take several weeks before noticeable improvement.
Since Adderall has such a high potential for misuse, abusing the drug while taking an antidepressant can be extremely dangerous. It can increase the rate of depression instead of helping the cause. When using a stimulant drug recreationally or beyond the scope of the prescription, it will lead to euphoria and be followed by a comedown that consists of depression and fatigue.
Potential side effects of abusing Adderall while on antidepressants include:
- Sleep difficulties
- High blood pressure
- Coordination issues
- Irregular heart rate
Those who are prescribed medication for depression will use stimulants four times as often as those not prescribed antidepressants. Again, while they can be helpful in treating both conditions, the situation must be monitored.
Adderall For Depression
As was mentioned above, Adderall can help a person experiencing depression, although Adderall will not be prescribed to treat symptoms of depression. There is no medical proof showing its effectiveness in treating the condition. While Adderall in conjunction with antidepressants had a beneficial effect on the outcome of depression, it’s not enough for doctors to whip out their prescription pad and start prescribing the drug for depression. Antidepressants are not addictive – stimulant drugs like Adderall are addictive, meaning that doctors would first opt for the less addictive choice. Those struggling with depression are more likely to self-medicate and could end up abusing Adderall.
Is Adderall An SSRI?
No, Adderall is a stimulant drug. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. These drugs ease moderate or severe depression symptoms and are considered safe because they possess fewer side effects than other antidepressants. SSRIs include drugs like:
Can You Take Zoloft and Adderall?
In short, you must speak with your doctor before taking drugs together for your safety. While it’s considered safe, there may be a medical reason why mixing these two drugs is bad. However, you can take the medications to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression, as long as your doctor gives you the all-clear.
MAOI antidepressant medications need to be stopped at least two weeks before taking Adderall because of the possibility for a hypertensive crisis occurring when the two medications are combined. This potentially lethal combination can lead to stroke, cardiovascular complications, eclampsia, renal failure, pulmonary edema, and ophthalmological complications.
If you are taking an antidepressant, talk to your doctor about your need to take Adderall and how to do so safely. In many cases, you will need to wean off the antidepressant first. This can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on how long you have been taking it and in what doses. The type of antidepressant you are taking will matter as well.
Adderall may be safely taken with some antidepressants, if medically necessary. The medications should only be combined under the direct supervision and direction of a medical professional.
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