Why Does Adderall Affect Personality?
As a stimulant, Adderall evokes both physical and mental changes that impact how someone feels. It stimulates the central nervous system to increase dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which helps you focus and feel good, but may also raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, which can contribute to feelings consistent with anxiety, which can be negative feelings.
Adderall’s impact on the levels of certain neurotransmitters means that your brain has to cope with a fluctuating imbalance that can take a toll on your mental health. When you take Adderall, your brain automatically adjusts its own production and uptake to accommodate for the increase in availability the drug causes. As a result, you could feel positive and see improvement when taking your Adderall but feel much different when it begins to wear off due to the decrease in neurotransmitter production. This sensation is often referred to as an Adderall crash.
A change in these neurotransmitters, the primary chemicals that dictate your mood and cognition, also changes the way your brain thinks and processes data, which can lead to other personality changes - either good or bad.
The 7 Most Common Personality Effects Caused By Adderall
Adderall can cause a variety of changes in personality for different people. Some will experience mostly positive or mostly negative symptoms, so it’s important to monitor how you feel so that you can work with your doctor to find out if Adderall is right for you.
These personality effects include:
Anxiety is a symptom that can occur for a wide variety of reasons. It’s a common comorbid condition alongside ADHD, which makes users of Adderall especially susceptible to increased feelings of anxiety.
Stimulants raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, which can trigger feelings of anxiety like restlessness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart palpitations that feed into further anxious thoughts and contribute to negative feelings. Adderall also causes a flood of norepinephrine into the bloodstream, which controls the fight-or-flight response associated with anxiety, causing your brain to think it’s in danger and generating anxiety symptoms.
Irritability and Anger
Irritability and anger are two commonly reported effects of Adderall that are likely due to the surge of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin that the drug produces. Dopamine and serotonin levels rise quickly when taking instant-release or high doses of extended-release Adderall, which can overwhelm your brain temporarily until it adjusts to the new level of neurotransmitter production. When these levels are too high, they lead to poor emotional regulation, agitation, aggression, and anger symptoms. Fortunately, they resolve after the medication leaves your body.
Mood swings are when someone has a drastic change in their mood, often from happy to sad or angry and vice versa. They’re commonly associated with Adderall because of the constantly changing levels of neurotransmitters that a stimulant produces, which causes your brain to struggle to balance production and reuptake for homeostasis.
You’re likely to experience mood swings on higher doses of Adderall and instant-release formulations due to the more significant rise and fall in chemicals they produce.
A lack of motivation is common in people with ADHD. Dopamine controls the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, so when you lack it, you’re more likely to feel unmotivated and unproductive.
Adderall increases dopamine production and modulates the reuptake of dopamine, allowing your brain to have access to the levels it needs to work properly. With a properly regulated dopaminergic system, your brain will motivate you to seek more pleasure through accomplishing tasks or reaching goals that produce more dopamine.
ADHD can have very different effects on how social you are. Inattentive ADHD may make it hard to focus on conversations, and hyperactive ADHD can make it hard to effectively communicate in conversations, adding stress to social events and potentially causing social anxiety.
With Adderall, you’re more likely to be social because of the cognitive improvements the drug provides. An increase in dopamine improves your memory and attention span, which makes it easier to engage in conversations. It can also curb the overstimulation and hyperactivity of ADHD, allowing you to think more clearly and gain control over your talkativeness so that you can have more effective conversations.
It’s not uncommon for people with ADHD to lack confidence due to their disorder. ADHD can significantly impact social interaction, professional and academic success, and other aspects of your social life, hurting self-esteem and leading to low confidence.
Fortunately, Adderall can enhance self-esteem and confidence. Dopamine creates positive emotions that lead to feelings of euphoria and well-being that inspire you to take action and feel self-satisfaction from them, allowing you to be more confident in each decision you make.
When most people think of ADHD or stimulants, the last thing they think of is calm. However, some users may actually feel more relaxed and calm when taking Adderall.
Despite being a stimulant, Adderall can actually cause a feeling of calmness in those with ADHD. It addresses the chemical imbalance in your brain to ensure that your brain has all of the dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and other chemicals it needs to function effectively. When you don’t have enough of these chemicals, your brain has to compensate for them, which can cause ADHD behaviors like impulsiveness and restlessness.
How To Avoid Negative Personality Effects From Adderall
It’s hard to know exactly how Adderall will affect you, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the chances of experiencing significant negative personality effects when taking the drug.
Taking your medication as prescribed is the single most effective way to avoid negative effects of any kind from taking Adderall. A higher dose will increase all effects - including the negative ones - which is more likely to cause overstimulation that leads to high levels of neurotransmitters flooding the brain and overwhelming it. You’ll also avoid more dangerous side effects like cardiac events, seizures, and other life-threatening conditions associated with overdosing on Adderall.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is another way you can work to address personality changes resulting from taking Adderall. Therapy helps you to learn coping skills for emotions that may not feel under your control, helping you to minimize the negative effects of Adderall, like irritability or anger.
Finally, certain medications and supplements can help to address the increased agitation, restlessness, or anxiety that comes with Adderall use. L-theanine is an amino acid that helps to calm the nervous system to minimize overstimulation and curb negative personality effects. Your doctor may also prescribe another medication to address certain cardiac symptoms, anxiety, or mood swings caused by Adderall.
Manage Adderall Personality Changes With Ongoing Medication Management From Done
Medication side effects are hard to predict and will affect everyone differently. You may experience minimal negative side effects or personality changes, or Adderall could make a drastic difference in the way you feel. In addition to taking your medication as prescribed and working to address your symptoms as they arise, it’s also important to receive ongoing care that adapts to these symptoms so that you can receive the most effective treatment possible.
Done makes it easy to get help with addressing ADHD symptoms. Their team of ADHD specialists will evaluate your symptoms, get to learn your needs, and create a treatment plan that aims to minimize negative effects. You’ll also receive ongoing medication management that allows for changes if a particular side effect or personality change is bothering you.
Take our free 1-minute assessment to find out how Done can help you manage your ADHD, with or without Adderall.