Adderall is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to treat narcolepsy. Although Adderall is a stimulant, when used at the doses necessary to treat ADHD, it usually has a calming effect. However, when used to treat narcolepsy, Adderall is generally used at higher doses than when prescribed to treat ADHD, resulting in a stimulating effect to help people with narcolepsy stay awake. Currently, there are some off-label Adderall uses, such as treating depression or helping with weight loss.
Adderall® (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is a prescription medicine. Specific Adderall uses include:
- Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Treatment of narcolepsy.
ADHD is a condition that involves difficulty paying attention, sitting still, and controlling behavior. In ADHD, these problems are worse than expected for a typical child of the same age. Usually, the ADHD symptoms must be present before the age of seven to qualify as ADHD. The symptoms must also affect the work, school, or social life in a negative way to qualify as ADHD (see ADHD and School and Relationships and ADHD for more information).
Although ADHD is generally thought of as a problem in children, teenagers and adults can also have ADHD. Diagnosing ADHD in adults is different than diagnosing ADHD in children.
Any behavioral change involves a well-balanced ADHD treatment plan, including social, educational, and mental therapy (see Behavior Therapy for ADHD). If lifestyle changes alone are not effective in changing ADHD behavior, ADHD medications, such as Adderall, may be necessary.
Adderall is a stimulant, although it can have the opposite effects from what would be expected of a stimulant. While stimulants (like caffeine) can cause hyperactivity, when used at doses for ADHD, Adderall usually has a calming effect. While the exact way Adderall produces a calming effect is not known, it is known that Adderall affects chemicals in the brain.