Adderall Headaches: Causes, Prevention, and How to Get Rid of Them

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“Adderall” is the brand name for dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, a drug that is used to help control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, as well as narcolepsy.

Unfortunately, there are some common side effects of Adderall that seem to recur in patients, and the most frequent can be Adderall headaches. Does Adderall cause headaches?

Well, experts estimate as many as 26% of consumers experience headaches within hours of taking it. But did you know that there different types of these headaches?

In this article, we are going to take a look at the so-called Adderall headache and the medication itself. We will discuss the effects of Adderall, the various types of Adderall headaches you may experience, and how to prevent these headaches from happening.

What Is an Adderall Headache?

What is an Adderall headache? In basic terms, an Adderall headache is a headache caused by the use of Adderall. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant. This type of stimulant can lead to a migraine-like headache rather quickly. Adderall is a mix of amphetamines, which can bring about a release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. The sudden flood of these chemicals could increase the chance of headaches in ways we will expand on later in the article. The headaches themselves may come in different varieties and result from different causes, and can range from uncomfortable to debilitating.

Types of Adderall Headaches

An important thing to know when taking Adderall is that there are multiple types of Adderall headaches. The types are cluster, migraine, tension, and chronic daily headaches.

1. Cluster headache

A cluster headache is a series of short but rather powerful headaches that occur over a few days.

2. Migraine headache

Migraines from Adderall can be described as incessant throbbing headaches that tend to only affect one side of the head.

3. Tension headache

A “tension headache” is how you would describe a traditional headache. The headache affects both sides of the brain and usually brings a feeling of pressure behind the eyes.

4. Chronic daily headaches

Chronic daily headaches are rarely caused by Adderall, but they do occasionally occur. This is a headache that affects you for more than a 24-hour period.

While people not currently on the medication can certainly get one or all of these headaches, people on Adderall may have a 10% higher chance of not only having these headaches occur, but also having them occur on a regular basis.

What Causes Adderall Headaches?

Researchers believe there are a number of different causes behind Adderall headaches, and as mentioned previously, much of it has to do with the fact that Adderall changes the body’s chemistry and the way the drug affects the central nervous system. But, let’s examine the ways that Adderall could directly cause Adderall headaches in detail.

1. Neck and Shoulder Tension

Adderall’s main job is to allow you to maintain focus, and it accomplishes this by both releasing chemicals into your body and triggering the body itself to release chemicals such as dopamine. The problem is that the release of dopamine can often signal the body to make its muscles, specifically those in the neck and shoulders, go rigid. This can cause tension and pain within those muscles, which can go on to produce a headache from Adderall.

2. Electrolyte Issues

Chronic or frequent use of Adderall can sometimes prompt an imbalance of your body’s electrolytes. Adderall can help deplete the body of these important minerals like sodium, magnesium, and potassium. This could lead to health conditions such as hypokalemia (low potassium), hyponatremia (low sodium), as well as magnesium deficiencies that can all trigger Adderall headaches.

3. Amphetamine-Related Hypertension

Adderall is a type of amphetamine, and one of the potential side effects of an amphetamine is that it can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular activities. This, in turn, can cause headaches.

4. Cerebral Vasoconstriction

Adderall can cause a narrowing of the blood vessels, called vasoconstriction, due to its causing the body to release the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Cerebral vasoconstriction (the constricting of blood vessels to the brain) can be a result, and this particular constriction can also cause Adderall headaches.

How Does Adderall Work in the Brain?

Adderall works in your brain by mimicking chemicals that your body already produces, but if you require much higher concentrations, doctors likely suspect that the organ is not producing enough of the chemicals needed to work properly. So, in the case of ADHD, elevated levels are used in order to increase your attention and focus. Unfortunately, as noted, this drug and others like it are part of the amphetamine family. As such, the brain can become addicted to its physical and emotional effects. But despite the side effects, Adderall does work for many people exactly as it should.

How to Get Rid of Adderall Headaches

Is there an Adderall headache cure? Due to the nature of the drug, simply quitting Adderall cold turkey is not the best-advised plan for ridding yourself of Adderall headaches. That being said, there are a number of natural methods that you can use to possibly rid yourself of an Adderall headache.

1. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is another stimulant for your brain. Having too much caffeine while on Adderall can cause a small chemical overload in the brain, which can trigger a headache.

2. Replenish Electrolytes

One of the reported causes of an Adderall headache is the depletion of electrolytes in your system that the medication may cause. You can top up electrolytes through various means like healthy sports drinks or natural electrolyte solutions.

3. Relaxation, Stretching, and Exercise

Adderall headaches can occur due to your muscles becoming tight and tense. To lessen this discomfort, learn how to relax those neck and shoulder muscles as well as how to stretch and exercise those muscles properly. This may help reduce the possibility of those muscles becoming tense and causing a headache.

How to Prevent Adderall Headaches

There are a couple of preventative measures you can take to try and stop an Adderall headache from occurring in the first place.

1. Eat Well

Make sure you eat enough healthy whole and unprocessed foods and get your full requirement of vitamins and minerals each day. This can help limit some of the causes of an Adderall headache.

2. Relax

Try and keep relaxed as much as possible. Learning various relaxation techniques can help your body keep its muscles loose, especially in the neck and shoulders. This can reduce the chances of muscle tension creating a headache.

What Are the Side Effects of Adderall?

In addition to headaches, Adderall does have several other side effects that you should be aware of. They can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Adderall May Cause Headaches, but It Can Also Help You

The prescription drug Adderall may have many drawbacks, but for countless people, its main effects are worth the risk of the side effects. If you are one of those people, hopefully, the tips and tricks that we’ve laid out above will help you keep those Adderall headaches at bay and continue on with your day. If not, consult with a doctor, as there may be another drug that works better with your body’s chemistry in terms of side effects, but can provide the same results as Adderall.

Related Articles: 

6 Most Effective Pressure Points for Headache Pain

Waking up With Headaches: Causes and Treatments for Morning Headaches


Sources
“Adderall Headaches: Causes and Treatment,” Prediet Plan, April 12, 2016; http://predietplan.com/adderall-headaches/, last accessed July 24, 2017.
“Adderall Headaches: How to Fix This Side Effect,” Brain Pro Tips, July 23, 2015, http://www.brainprotips.com/adderall-headache/, last accessed July 24, 2017.
“What Is Adderall (Adderall XR)?” Everyday Health; http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/adderall, last accessed July 2and4, 2017.
Pietrangelo, A., “Coping with the Comedown: Managing Adderall Crash,” Healthline, July 29, 2016; http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-crash#overview1, last accessed July 24, 2017.
“Adderall,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-63163/adderall-oral/details, last accessed July 24, 2017.

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