Is Adderall Beneficial For OCD?

More than 25 million people throughout the world use amphetamines.

If you have ever dealt with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you know how annoying, infuriating, restrictive, and upsetting it can be. Many people, who struggle with this condition, are desperate for relief from the non-stop obsessions and compulsions. Sometimes, the remedy is quick, but other times, it is slow. OCD management typically involves a multi-treatment approach, such as medication, therapy, OCD tools, and lifestyle changes.

One medication that has gained popularity over the last few years is Adderall. Although Adderall is primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it is also sometimes used to tackle OCD symptoms. Adderall may reduce your anxiety so you do not feel so out-of-control. It can also help you think more clearly (improved cognitive function), so you can discern between illogical and logical thinking.

More specifically, it can help you understand and accept that your worries and fears are not fact-based, and, thus, are unlikely to happen. Still, stimulants, like Adderall, are addictive and do come with risks, side effects, and complications. So, it is always best to take the non-medicated route when possible.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and other therapies, along with OCD tools, and lifestyle changes, are the most effective ways to treat OCD. The good news is with the right OCD tools, you can effectively manage, reduce, or eliminate your OCD symptoms. If you wondering if Adderall can help with your OCD symptoms, look no more because this article will tell you the ins and outs of this medication, so you can determine if it is right for you!

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What is OCD?

OCD affects up to 3% of the American population. And, amongst American adults, women are slightly more affected than men.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that involves unwelcomed, reoccurring, and upsetting thoughts, images, urges (obsessions), and involuntary, stress-relieving behaviors (compulsions), such as repeated hand washing, checking, counting, cleaning, etc. These unrelenting and constant thoughts and behaviors can significantly impair a person’s ability to think rationally, socialize with others, and perform normal daily tasks.

OCD usually begins during childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, however, the average age of OCD onset is 19 for women and 20 for men. Ignoring or dismissing the urge to perform a certain action causes more distress. It is important to note that most people with OCD understand or at least suspect that their intrusive thoughts (obsessions) are illogical. However, a small percentage of these individuals believe these thoughts, fears, and worries are valid – when they likely are not.

But, even if a person with OCD knows and accepts that the obsession is unrealistic, he or she may still find it impossible to stop the non-stop thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Thus, if you are experiencing obsessions and compulsions that are not only time-consuming but also involuntary and repetitive, there is a good chance you are suffering from OCD. This is especially true if your thoughts and behaviors are negatively impacting your life and well-being (i.e., work, self-esteem, relationships, social life, health, etc.).

Is OCD Often Misdiagnosed?

Yes, surprisingly, OCD is often mistaken for ADHD.

Although the symptoms of ADHD and OCD may overlap, they are two different conditions.

Adderall is normally prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And, although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and ADHD are separate conditions, their symptoms can resemble each other. Therefore, it can be hard to accurately diagnose the conditions. In other words, it is easy to misdiagnosis OCD, if the diagnosis is made without the proper tools. According to a 2012 study, it is common to misdiagnose ADHD when the true condition is OCD – at least initially.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is an amphetamine (an artificial or man-made stimulant), designed to prevent mood swings, curb your appetite, ease your fatigue, improve your attention span. It can also reduce narcolepsy, depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Adderall is most commonly used to treat ADHD (in small doses), however, it is also sometimes used for anxiety conditions, like OCD.

People with anxiety tend to have low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemical brain messenger) that sends signals throughout the body. Dopamine interacts with your internal reward system, causing you to feel “pleasure.” And, it supports thinking, planning, focusing, setting goals, and following your passions and interests. Dopamine is formed after tyrosine, an amino acid is converted into dopa, a chemical compound found in nervous system tissue.

Tyrosine is converted into adrenaline and noradrenaline, hormones responsible for your fight-or-flight response. The purpose of these hormones is to prepare you to either “fight” or “flee” from a stressful, overwhelming, upsetting, or dangerous situation. Stress can cause anxiety and anxiety can ramp up your productions of adrenaline and noradrenaline, triggering or worsening OCD.

Does Adderall Have Side-Effects?

Yes, Adderall is associated with numerous common to rare side-effects, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Sore Throat
  • Lower Back or Side Pain
  • Irregular Heartbeats
  • Runny Nose
  • Hoarseness
  • Tremors
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Loss of Bladder Control
  • Seizures
  • Muscle Aches and Weakness
  • Joint Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Agitation
  • Crankiness
  • Sexual Issues – Erectile Dysfunction, Sex-Based Performance Anxiety, Low Sex Drive, Premature Ejaculation (PE), etc.
  • Moodiness
  • Dry “Cotton” Mouth
  • Gastrointestinal Distress – Constipation, Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal Pain, and/or Upset Stomach
  • Urinary Problems – Chronic Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), Frequent Urination, Buring When Urinating, Bladder Pain, and/or Bloody or Cloudy Urine
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Hives
  • Lightheadedness
  • Reoccurring Fevers

Adderall is also associated with more serious side effects, such as:

  • Skin Blistering, Peeling, and/or Slackening
  • Chest Discomfort, Tightness, or Pain
  • Mental Confusion
  • Dark Urine
  • Breathing Difficulties
  • Speaking Difficulties, Slow Speech, or Uncontrolled Vocal Outbursts
  • Swallowing Difficulties
  • Lightheadedness
  • Faintness, Lethargy
  • Paralysis of the Facial Muscles, Arms, and/or Legs
  • Itchy, Skin Rashes, Red Lesions with a Purple Center, and Hives
  • Loss of Bladder Control
  • Stiff Muscles or Muscle Cramps
  • Muscle Spasm, Muscle Weakness, or Jerky Arms and Legs
  • Discomfort or Pain in the Arms and Legs
  • Red, Irritated Eyes, Double Vision,
  • Hallucinations and Delusions
  • Seizures
  • Mouth or Lip Sores, Ulcers, or White Spots
  • Sudden Loss of Consciousness
  • Feet and Leg Edema (Swelling)
  • Tics

What is the Typical Adderall Dosage for OCD?

The Adderall dosage for OCD varies depending on your weight and the type of Adderall you use. However, the adults with OCD, who take Adderall IR (immediate-release) are normally divided into multiple doses throughout the day. The dosage should not go beyond 40 mg (the maximum Adderall dose) in 24 hours.

Listed below are the typical Adderall dosages for people with OCD:

Adderall

  • 5 mg
  • 7.5 mg
  • 10 mg
  • 15 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg

Adderall XR (Extended Release)

Adderall XR (Extended Release) is normally taken once a day in one of the following doses:

  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg
  • 15 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 25 mg
  • 30 mg

Adderall IR is usually more adjustable than Adderall XR, which means that your doctor can safely start you out with the minimum dose (5 mg) and increase it, as needed. If you are taking Adderall to combat the effects of OCD, your doctor will most likely start you out at the minimum dose (5 mg) every 4-6 hours. If that does not work, he or she may increase the dosage to the maximum dose (30 mg) twice a day.

Keep in mind that the dosage may fluctuate, especially if a person is a child. Fortunately, the dosage should stabilize once he or she turns 16-years-old. However, adults with OCD should not experience many fluctuations in their Adderall dosage.

Adderall IR starts to work within 60-minutes of the initial dose. However, in some cases, it may take several hours or weeks to see a noticeable improvement in your OCD symptoms. Also, refrain from taking Adderall with citric juices or foods because they could delay or prevent your body from fully absorbing the medication.

Although studies have been conducted on the long-term use of Adderall, most of these studies have focused on the effects of the medication on narcolepsy and ADHD symptoms. Study results suggest that there are no lasting ill effects on these individuals.

Therefore, researchers have surmised that Adderall is safe, in general, for a variety of conditions, including anxiety and OCD, long-term. If you plan to stop Adderall, it is important to consult your doctor for guidance. Your doctor will likely taper you off the medication to avoid withdrawal symptoms, side effects, and/or complications.

Note: Adderall IR is not FDA-approved in toddlers (2-years-old and young) who suffer from OCD. And, Adderall XR is not FDA-approved in young children (5-years-old and younger) with OCD.

Did you know, our our self-help course has helped thousands of OCD sufferers better manage their symptoms?

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Can Adderall Trigger OCD Symptoms?

Yes, it can.

In some cases, Adderall may trigger or worsen OCD symptoms. Some studies have found that children, who have taken Adderall for at least six months, may experience OCD symptoms.

I Am Taking Adderall for My OCD Symptoms – Could I Become Addicted to the Medication?

It is possible…

People between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest risk of developing an Adderall addiction.

Adderall is a DEA Schedule II Controlled Medication, which means there is a chance you could become addicted to it. Once your body becomes acclimated to Adderall, there is a chance that you will need more of it to get the desired results, which could result in an Adderall addiction. On the flip side, an Adderall addiction can also worsen OCD symptoms.

If you may be addicted to Adderall if you cannot control how much and how often you take the medication. More specifically, you may be dependent on Adderall, if you take it more than prescribed, purchase it off the streets, and/or if you are unable to stop taking it – despite the negative consequences.

Diagnosing co-existing conditions (Adderall addiction and OCD) can be challenging because both conditions influence and impact each other. As a result, it is often difficult to determine if it is OCD or Adderall abuse that is fueling the symptoms. Thus, it is important to treat the Adderall addiction and the OCD symptoms simultaneously (at the same time). In this case, treating each condition individually could increase the risk of withdrawal symptoms and an OCD relapse.

If you try to stop using Adderall, in my experience withdrawal symptoms, such as disorientation, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, obsessions and compulsions, panic attacks, urinary tract infections, moodiness, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, Adderall cravings, vivid dreams, nightmares, night terrors, psychomotor impairment, sleep disorders, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, suicidal ideations, problems focusing or concentrating, frustration, increased hunger, headaches or migraines, extremely low heart rate, etc.

Note: Withdrawal symptoms should lessen or disappear within a few weeks. However, once you get the withdrawal period, your OCD symptoms may return.

What Are the Signs of Adderall Addiction?

It can be hard for “Adderall abusers” to admit that they have a “drug problem.” However, admitting that there is a problem is not always necessary because it is usually loved ones and friends that first notice a change in the addict. It is not usually the “addict,” who first notices the signs of an Adderall addiction, it is the people around him or her that notice that something is amiss with their loved one.

If you are wondering if you are addicted to Adderall, look no more, because the signs of an Adderall addiction are listed below:

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden and Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Accelerated Speech
  • Fragmented Thoughts
  • Aggression – i.e., Anger or Rage, Outbursts, Tantrums, Assaults, and/or Risk-Taking Behaviors
  • Paranoia
  • Relationship Issues
  • Poor Attendance at Work or School
  • Financial Problems or Debt
  • Poor Personal Hygiene
  • Compulsive Pill-Taking
  • Pill-Hiding

How Does Adderall Affect the Brain?

Adderall can affect your brain function. More specifically, it can boost your production of dopamine and serotonin, chemical brain messengers, causing overstimulation. This normally occurs when people take Adderall the way it has been prescribed by their doctors. But it can occur in people, who misuse or abuse the medication.

Understand that people, who take Adderall for a specific condition (i.e., OCD), typically have low levels of dopamine and serotonin, so Adderall helps “balance them out.” However, people, who do not have a condition that depletes their dopamine and serotonin, are at risk of experiencing psychological effects.

These psychological effects may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Paranoia
  • Mania
  • Hallucination
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis

Adderall can affect your life primarily in two additional areas – personality and depression.

What Is It Like to Take Adderall for OCD?

Listed below are two examples of what it is like to take Adderall for OCD:

Erika

“My name’s Erika. I am 20. I want to share my experience here in hopes that it may help other people. My psychiatrist recently prescribed me a combination of 60 mg Celexa (increased slowly to 60 mg) and 20 mg of Adderall, 2x a day, for OCD. Before Adderall, I was incessantly plagued with repetitive negative thoughts of failure. I felt like everything I attempted to do would cause something horrible to happen. It had gotten so bad that I spent most of my time the past year “housebound.”

I only left my house to see my doctor or to visit my siblings. I was only comfortable socializing with my family and best friend. I also had a lot of emetophobic-type thoughts (only in public places). Well, I have been taking the Adderall for the past two weeks, and I must say that it has been nothing short of a Godsend.

My attitude has completely changed – for the better. I now feel motivated, interested, and deeply content with myself and life. I am also very confident now. My negative thought just halted in their tracks. So, I feel as if the real me has been unearthed from some ugly, demonic, distorted shell that was out of my control.

Today, I went to the DMV to apply for my driver’s license. I have been wanting to get my driver’s license for 4 years, but I had convinced myself that I would fall flat on my face and fail the test. But today, I submitted my application and took my driver’s test. Guess what? It felt like an absolute breeze. I was perplexed at why I could not bring myself to do these things before!! I truly see a change on the horizon and I have a whole new outlook on life.

My psychiatrist told me there are tons of studies on the effects of stimulants, like Adderall, on OCD, and the results have been very positive. I know medications work differently for each person; however, I would just like to give my high recommendation for Adderall. I hope this helps someone like me.”

Michael

“I am not sure what is going on with my Adderall. I take 10 mg twice a day. I have been on this dose for about 3 weeks. I still get the euphoria from it, which I thought would be gone by now. Adderall has been giving me a lot of anxiety lately. I have OCD and Adderall has been making my symptoms worse! It is making me “overthink” and “over-analyze” everything – even worse than before! I also have trouble making eye contact and staying focused on the conversation because I am always thinking about what to say next. I also suffer paralysis sometimes.

But what has been scaring me is that I have the same thoughts over and over again. Also, I have a compulsion to touch certain things until they feel “right” to me. I know this is an OCD symptom. I also cannot get a song out of my head. It plays in my mind 24/7. I took my second dose of Adderall about 7 hours ago, and now I feel super-stressed. I feel like I am going crazy. I was originally on 3.75mg and it did not work for me. Then, my doctor upped my dosage to 10 mg and now my OCD symptoms have worsened. Has anyone else experienced this while on Adderall?”

Are There Any Non-Medicated Tools I Can Use to Ease My OCD Symptoms?

Yes, there are non-medicated tools that can reduce your OCD symptoms. Impulse Therapy is an online OCD treatment tool that can be used with your prescribed treatment plan or alone. Impulse uses a variety of therapies, resources, and tools to help you get a firm grasp on your OCD symptoms. OCD tools can help you manage your intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, so you can finally be “free” of your OCD symptoms.

Our self-help OCD therapy course has helped 1000s of OCD sufferers since 2018.

"My OCD is finally manageable"

Jennifer S

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