Adderall is a brand name for the combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It’s a prescription drug used primarily to treat ADHD or narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness). The medication alters certain naturally-occurring chemicals in your brain by enhancing the effects of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
For ADHD, Adderall is designed to improve hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and attention span. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stimulants like Adderall improve symptoms of ADHD in 70 to 80 percent of children, and in 70 percent of adults. The positive effects can be even greater when it’s used along with behavioral therapy.
Adderall comes in either a tablet form or as a time-release capsule. It can interfere with sleep, so it should be taken in the morning. Your doctor will most likely start you off with a low dose to make sure you can tolerate it. Then, the dose can be slowly increased.
Before taking Adderall, tell your doctor about any preexisting physical or mental health problems you have and list all other prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. Adderall is a federally controlled substance that should never be taken without medical supervision.
When prescribed and taken as directed, Adderall’s effects on the central nervous system can provide some positive effects. You may be more awake during the day, as well as become more focused and calm.
Still, there are potential side effects, including:
problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
changes in vision
Adderall can also slow a child’s growth. In adults, Adderall may cause changes relating to your sex drive or sexual performance.
Serious side effects include fever and weakness, or numbness of the limbs. An allergic reaction to Adderall may cause swelling of the tongue, throat, or face. This is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.
Other serious side effects include:
uncontrollable shaking, tics, or seizures
hallucinations, paranoia, and other thought problems
worsening mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.