People typically take Adderall for ADHD and narcolepsy, but some people wonder whether Adderall can also treat depression.

Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. If you don’t get the results you’d like from antidepressants, you may wonder whether other effective treatment options exist.

Adderall, which people usually take to treat narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a medication that doctors sometimes prescribe off-label for depression.

Off-label use refers to prescribing or using a medication for a purpose not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Because the drug can cause symptoms such as euphoria and increased energy, it may improve the symptoms of depression. But the effects aren’t likely to last long term. And, in some people, Adderall may make symptoms of depression worse.

Adderall is a stimulant drug that contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

The FDA has approved Adderall to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. But it’s sometimes used off-label to treat depression, too.

The evidence on whether Adderall can help with depression symptoms is mixed, according to a 2018 review.

Some research from 2015 suggests that stimulants such as Adderall may improve depression symptoms for a short time by increasing energy levels, mood, and ability to focus.

Stimulants may be a good candidate for supplementary treatment of depression in people with residual symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration, and apathy.

When taking Adderall, you might temporarily feel a burst of energy. Your mood might also seem to improve. But these effects aren’t likely to last long term. The stimulating effect makes it seem like you’re happier and more energetic, but it’s not necessarily treating the root cause of depression.

Depression treatment practice guidelines for 2010 conclude that the evidence supporting Adderall use for depression is mixed.

Adderall can produce side effects, including depression, though the risk is low. There’s also a risk of dependence when taking stimulants like Adderall, contributing to depression.

Adderall is a prescription drug, which means you need a prescription to take it.

Taking medication for depression that a medical professional does not prescribe isn’t advised. If you’re curious about taking Adderall for depression, consider talking with a doctor or mental health professional.

Severe side effects could occur if you take Adderall and an antidepressant medication called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).

Yes, Adderall can cause side effects, including:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • changes in appetite
  • dry mouth
  • stomach pain
  • problems sleeping
  • rash
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dizziness

Rarely, some people may also experience psychiatric side effects such as:

This list of side effects isn’t exhaustive. Your doctor can help determine whether Adderall is the proper choice for you.

Some people have a higher chance of experiencing side effects when taking Adderall. These include people with:

You’ll want to avoid taking Adderall if you’re pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. The drug has been linked to pregnancy and birth complications.

A medical professional can advise you on weaning off Adderall. Suddenly stopping the drug could result in withdrawal symptoms and depression.

It’s possible to treat depression, and options vary from person to person. What works for you might not help someone else.

Treatment for depression usually involves a dual approach combining psychotherapy (talk therapy), such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications like antidepressants.

In cases of recurring depression, some people may benefit from treatments such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

A medical professional might prescribe you Adderall for narcolepsy or ADHD. Also, even though it’s not FDA-approved for treating depression, medical professionals may prescribe it off-label for depression.

But the evidence supporting the use of Adderall for depression symptoms is mixed. It largely suggests that any benefits you might experience are usually temporary.

In rare cases, Adderall may make depression symptoms worse or cause them.

If you have depression, talking with a mental health professional could be helpful. They can go over treatment options with you and develop a plan that involves strategies for tackling depression symptoms.