Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Prolonged use of Adderall can cause hair loss and is listed by the manufacturer as a potential side effect of the drug. Scientific studies are lacking to prove Adderall’s effect on the scalp and how it causes hair loss. However, it was found that psychostimulants and psychotropic drugs may trigger alopecia and unusual hair-pulling behavior or trichotillomania (1), (2). In this article, we have explored how Adderall may trigger hair loss and ways to deal with it.
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What Is Adderall?
Adderall is an FDA-approved prescription psychostimulant medicine. It is considered the first choice for treating ADHD. Aderall is also commonly prescribed for narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, as it can increase the daytime wakefulness in people with the condition.
Adderall usage and dosage are closely monitored and controlled by a doctor as overdose and prolonged usage of the drug can cause dependence, leading to psychological and other side effects like cardiovascular issues.
As with any other drug, Adderall may cause some mild and severe side effects, including but not limited to:
- Lack of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Allergic reactions
- Muscle breakdown
Hair loss is also a potential side effect of using Adderall.
How Does Adderall Cause Hair Loss?
While it is normal to shed some hair every day, prolonged and regular use of Adderall can potentially cause severe hair fall. The drug may cause hair loss either directly or indirectly.
1. Direct Effects Of Adderall On Hair
The ingredients in Adderall may negatively impact hair follicles or growth cycles in an individual and cause hair fall. However, there is limited research on the direct effects of Adderall on the hair. The manufacturer lists hair loss as one of the primary side effects of Adderall.
2. Indirect Effects Of Adderall On Hair
Adderall has many psychological side effects that may cause changes in an individual’s behavior patterns and lead to indirect hair loss. They include:
- Compulsive Behaviors
People often develop compulsive behaviors to cope with the overstimulation and anxiety triggered by Adderall usage.
As per a 2013 case report, a 12-year-old child who was prescribed Adderall for ADHD developed trichotillomania, a compulsive hair-pulling disorder. The behavior was resolved once the child stopped taking Adderall, and the doctors concluded that trichotillomania was a rare side effect of Adderall usage (2).
- Lack Of Sleep
Adderall can cause sleeplessness and restlessness, which, in turn, affect hair health and may cause hair thinning.
- Loss Of Appetite
One of the possible side effects of the drug is a loss of appetite. This may trigger nutritional deficiency, leading to excessive hair fall.
- Itchy Scalp
Adderall is also known to cause itchy scalp. This may lead to scratching tendencies, leading to hair loss.
While Adderall can make your hair fall out, are there any chances for hair regrowth? Let us find out in the next section.
Is Hair Loss Caused By Adderall Reversible?
Yes, it is reversible. Drug-induced hair loss is often reversible, and the hair grows back once you stop using the drug.
Medications generally cause hair loss by interfering with the normal hair growth cycle. However, as long as the hair follicles are not permanently damaged, the hair may grow back. Adderall does not damage the hair follicles, making it possible to recover from excessive hair thinning.
If you are experiencing hair loss after taking Adderall, you can talk to your doctor regarding the recovery options. They may lower the dosage or prescribe other medication to prevent hair loss.
You can also do the following things to take care of your hair.
Treating Adderall-Induced Hair Loss
Firstly, do not discontinue using Adderall without medical advice as that may lead to other complications. Instead, try these strategies:
- Consider All Factors
Multiple factors can lead to excessive hair loss, including heredity, medication, poor nutrition, and environmental factors. Consider these factors before assuming the cause of your hair loss. Talk to the doctor and check if you have any nutritional deficiencies or an underlying condition.
- Manage Anxiety
Stress or anxiety may also cause hair loss (3). This may further be aggravated by Adderall use. Try to manage your anxiety and stress levels. Join a support group and talk to others. You may also try new hobbies, medication, relaxation techniques, exercise, and spend more time with your loved ones. A combination of everything may bring down your stress levels.
Get yourself tested for vitamin deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. Both can contribute to hair loss. Consult a dietitian and nutritionist and follow a balanced diet that meets your unique nutritional requirements.
- Take Vitamin Supplements
Often, our diet falls short of meeting our daily nutritional requirements. Talk to a nutritionist and ask them for multivitamin supplements to prevent deficiencies. This may help control Adderall-induced hair fall.
- Consult A Trichologist
Hair loss can be distressing. You may consult a trichologist who specializes in hair loss to discuss your case and look for solutions.
- Consult A Hairstylist
If you have thinning hair, it would be a challenge to style it properly. Find a hairstylist who understands your unique needs and styles your hair in a way that makes it look fuller. You may also ask for a suitable hair care regimen to take care of your fragile hair.
Prolonged usage of Adderall can lead to dependence, addiction, and numerous side effects. There has been much focus on finding alternative treatments to Adderall in recent years. If you wish to reduce or discontinue Adderall and explore alternative therapies instead, talk to your doctor. Tweaking the prescribed dosage or medications on your own may result in undesirable physical and psychological effects. The doctor may prescribe the following options.
Alternative Treatments To Adderall
Citicoline is a pharmaceutical substance with neuroprotective properties. It supports proper brain function and healing and slows down neurodegenerative disorders. Research suggests that Citicoline supplements can help with brain and nervous system disorders (4). It may help manage ADHD symptoms and may be used as an alternative to Adderall.
Methionine is an amino acid that helps with many body and brain functions. An active form of methionine, S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM), is used as a supplement to treat ADHD (5). However, this supplement may lead to manic episodes and increases anxiety.
- Mineral Supplements
Some people with ADHD may have low levels of certain mineral nutrients. While you can meet your vital mineral requirements from a balanced diet, those who are deficient may have to take supplements.
Supplements like iron, magnesium, and zinc may help reduce symptoms of ADHD in some children (6), (7). However, more scientific research is needed to back up the effectiveness of these supplements in treating ADHD.
- Vitamin B6 Supplements
Vitamin B6 plays a key role in creating serotonin, a chemical that controls mood and brings about a sense of calmness. Adequate amounts of vitamin B6 and the mineral magnesium are required to help balance the brain chemicals.
A study suggests that children with ADHD who took vitamin B6 and magnesium supplements for eight weeks had fewer symptoms (8).
- Behavioral Therapy
For children with severe ADHD, behavioral therapy can be beneficial. This approach works on resolving specific behavior problems. However, behavioral therapy is most effective when used in conjunction with medication.
Hair loss due to Adderall is an uncommon but potential side effect of the drug. If you are experiencing excessive hair fall due to Adderall usage, do not be distressed. Once you stop the medication, your hair will grow back.
Before starting the treatment, you can talk to the doctor to discuss how to prevent hair fall and rebuild your hair health. While on Adderall, consume a healthy diet, take mineral and vitamin supplements, and follow good hair care practices to keep it healthy. In severe cases, you can ask your doctor to change your medication.
- Alopecia due to psychotropic medications
- Adderall-induced Trichotillomania: A Case Report
- Hair and stress: A pilot study of hair and cytokine balance alteration in healthy young women under major exam stress https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397031/
- Neuroprotective Properties of Citicoline: Facts, Doubts, and Unresolved Issues.
- S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) in adults with ADHD, RS: preliminary results from an open trial
- The Role of Nutritional Supplements in the Treatment of ADHD: What the Evidence Says
- Effects of iron supplementation on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children
- Improvement Of Neurobehavioral Disorders In Children Supplemented With Magnesium-Vitamin B6. I. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders