What are stimulants and how do they work?
Are Adderall and other stimulants FDA approved for adults?
What are the side effects of Adderall and other common stimulants in adults?
Prescription stimulants like Adderall have been studied extensively. Hundreds of studies have evaluated the effects of stimulant medications.
In general, prescription stimulants are well-tolerated. But like all medications, side effects are possible. Possible short-term side effects of Adderall include:
High blood pressure
Anger, restlessness, or irritability
Diarrhea or constipation
And there are some serious potential long-term side effects. Adderall may cause worsening heart problems, dementia, and mental health issues. These long-term side effects are not as well studied, so we need more data before we can say just how serious these risks are.
There’s also the risk of dependence or addiction with long-term use of Adderall. We’ll talk more about this later in this article.
Can you take Adderall and other prescription stimulants during pregnancy?
Taking prescription stimulants during pregnancy may raise the risk of negative effects on the baby. But severe ADHD during pregnancy can have negative consequences, too. It can affect an expectant mother’s daily functions if not treated.
What does the research say?
One study looked at close to 5,000 women who took a stimulant to treat their ADHD while pregnant. Compared to women who didn’t take a stimulant, there was a higher risk of having high blood pressure and protein in the urine (preeclampsia).
And continuing to take a stimulant later in pregnancy was linked to a greater chance of an early delivery (preterm labor). Though, overall, the risk is still extremely low. In fact, the researchers suggested that women with severe ADHD could potentially keep taking their stimulant medication during pregnancy.
But in another study, which looked at over 350,000 pregnancies, taking methylphenidate was linked to a higher risk of cardiac defects in babies.
If you take prescription stimulants, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should continue them during pregnancy. Together, you can discuss the pros and cons of taking these medications while pregnant.
Is Adderall bad for your heart?
In adults with no cardiovascular disease (heart disease), the chances of Adderall causing new heart problems is low. But if you have existing heart problems, taking Adderall or other prescription stimulants is more risky. This is because changes in blood pressure or heart rate can be dangerous if you already have heart problems.
If you have a heart condition — like an abnormal heart rhythm (e.g., atrial fibrillation) — talk to your healthcare provider before taking Adderall. They’ll help you weigh the risks and benefits.
Anyone taking Adderall will likely be monitored for changes in blood pressure and heart rate during their treatment. If you take Adderall and experience chest pains or loss of consciousness, seek emergency help as soon as possible.