adderall and hair loss help!
December 26, 2009 7:45 AM   Subscribe

adderall and hair loss- help!

I have really really thick hair. I always have, and I'm 25. People have always commented on it and it's supposed to be one of the 'highlights of my attractivity'

6 months ago I started taking about 10 mg of adderall a day, most days but not every day (what I understand to be a pretty low dose). this wasn't the xr kind. A couple of months ago I noticed that I was losing a lot of hair in the shower- at one point I felt like I must be undergoing chemo therapy without knowing it or something, but thought I must be making it up. It lasted a couple weeks, and after that things seemed normal again. a week ago I looked in the mirror and saw quite a bit of hair gone close to my forehead on one side, and freaked out, and stopped taking the medication altogether except one 5 mg dose a couple of days ago.

i'm really upset, because what I think is a low dose of this medication was making my life so much more manageable on many different fronts. I finally felt like I was able to function the way I felt I was 'supposed to' without stupid easy tasks being so painful to do that at work, for instance, I felt like people were questioning whether I could add 2+2 appropriately when I was a math genius growing up. But the last several months I did so much better at work- the way I thought I was capable of doing- i.e., I could get myself to do everyday tasks without banging my head against the wall repeatedly. And I've done so much better that I've managed to pull off a new job with recommendations from the current one. Then I noticed the hair loss. The last week has been much harder in terms of not being able to get work done and my boss actually accused me of 'having already moved on' because the work I was giving him, which I honestly tried to do, was so bad, (involved taking notes at a complicated meeting, something that involves a lot of concentration to appropriately get the key issues, sounds lame but the company demands very high quality notes). Also, I can't get myself to pack even though I'm moving for my new job soon. I'm really scared that I will do badly in my new job, just because I can't sit still long enough to do this stuff and can't seem to concentrate on any every-day rote tasks. I can't afford to do badly in this job.

it's possible that this was nutrition related as I noticed the hair loss closer to a period of time where I stopped eating a lot- although I've stopped eating a lot much more to the extreme a few years ago not on meds and it didn't cause any problems with my hair. however I didn't notice much hair loss in the last month when I was eating appropriate amounts of food

There's supposed to be a drug out that isn't a stimulant, intuiv or something like that- but it has warnings not to take it if you get dizzy, and I used to have a lot of fainting spells which I actively take cautions against in order to avoid having any more.

I didn't really have any other serious side-effects from the medication and loved what it was doing for me. Please help!

Specific questions- will the hair come back? what vitamins do you recommend? Should I never take the medication again? Should I try a lower dose, a different med? Have you experienced this?

I am in general anti-meds and struggled basically my whole life trying to work past what felt like a huge mental block in terms of doing work even though I really wanted to do it and knew that I was capable. This medication ended those years of misery. I'm not on other meds.

Thanks for any advice you have to offer

for what its worth, i wasn't on adderall technically but the generic- amphetamine salts.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Correlation isn't causation. Just because you started losing hair at the time you started taking adderall doesn't mean that the adderall has caused the hair loss.

I would ask your doctor what can cause hair loss. Specifically: is that a known side effect of adderall? Or is there some dietary explanation?


Here is a list of Adderall side effects:
posted by dfriedman at 7:49 AM on December 26, 2009

Mostly, I'd like to second dfriedman's advice -- don't assume the two are necessarily related, but do talk to your prescribing doctor about it. The more information you give your doctor about possible effects/side-effects, the better he can do his job of determining whether it is the right solution for you.

Secondly, I'd like to add that if it ends up that your doctor does feel that it's the Adderall that's triggering the hair-loss, don't worry -- there are many different options out there for medicinal treatment of attentional disorders, and you should have every confidence that you will be able to find one that's right for you.

The fact that you've found Adderall otherwise easily-tolerated and that you felt a pronounced positive effect from it both bode well if your and your doctor decide to try another medication. Be aware of, but try not to get too caught up in worrying about potential side effects until you feel you're experiencing them, and always keep your doctor apprised of anything concerning you. Do that, and you should have no problem finding the right treatment for you and your attentional disorder.
posted by patnasty at 8:52 AM on December 26, 2009

Your right at the age when people start losing their hair.

They actually make medication that's supposed to prevent it, Rogaine, Propecia, etc. Rather then freaking out you should talk to a doctor and perhaps get a prescription for one of those along with your Adderall .
posted by delmoi at 9:01 AM on December 26, 2009

My hair started to disappear right around 24-25 too. Same experience in the shower. It's that age when it starts to happen.
posted by frwagon at 9:03 AM on December 26, 2009

I would say do a web search, but I'm sure you could put "(any side effect you can imagine)" and "(any drug you can think of)" into Google and get roughly a zillion hits, so that's not really the way to go. Trying this quickly I found a page where the guy ask, basically, the same question you ask, but his question is like 1 part question plus 5 parts condemnation of adderall, so I'm gonna kind of question what I see there.

Get a hold of a Physicians Desk Reference (a lot of pharmacies will let you look at theirs) and see if Adderall is in there. It should have the big list of observed side effects. Those may not be common side effects, of even truly related to the drug in question, but it will give you a shopping list of things people saw during clinical evaluations.

Talk to your doctor and see what he says. See if you can't find someone who treats hair loss (preferably someone with the letters M.D. behind their name and whose had the same office for more than six months - I think you know what I'm saying here) and see what kind of advice they have. It certainly could be nutritional. (You aren't by any chance trying to supplement your diet with some kind of protein shake containing a mess of egg whites, are you?)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:22 AM on December 26, 2009

Have your Thyroid checked. Some ADHD type symptoms can be caused by an out of whack thyroid. A malfunctioning thyroid glad can cause the "chemo like" hair loss (big clumps in the shower when you wash). Another symptom of a hypo or hyper thyroid can also be trouble concentrating and trouble with short term memory. If you didn't experience any of your ADHD symptoms until your late teen years then I would definitely have your thyroid checked.
posted by jmsta at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2009

Many things can make you start losing your hair: stress, poor nutrition, a new product you're allergic to, and yes, some medications. I understand why it's unsettling. Even as someone with not the most amazing mane of hair in the world, hair loss completely freaked me out. In my case, it was a side effect of the medication I was taking (Lamictal), but I came to that conclusion during discussions with my doctor. So, do a little basic research so your informed, talk to your doctor, and discuss possible causes and your options.

While everyone reacts to medication differently, and IANAD, I would be surprised if it was the Adderall. Your dose is so low, you are taking it so infrequently, and it's exiting your system so rapidly, it's more likely the culprit is something else. I'd really look at your eating habits and diet. Have you started using any new household or beauty products? You could have an unnamed allergy to something. You could also take some type of silica complex as supplement. Most importantly though, talk to your doc, be honest and firm, and you'll figure it out. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 10:23 AM on December 26, 2009

Kid Charlemagne is sort of in the right direction but incorrect. You can indeed do all of your research online, though you might not be able to access the text of many articles without access through a university library or your local med school.

Please do some review of the serious literature before taking anyone's advice about thyroid whatevers (which seems to be an answer that gets posted to 99% of all health-related internet advice requests).

Start with a Google Scholar search for amphetamine alopecia and you'll immediately see quite a bit. Looks like this is a side effect that has been reported to reverse itself after discontinuation of the amphetamine.

If you do talk to your prescribing doc, print out some of the literature and ask him/her directly about it. The fact is that most physicians just don't have the time to become familiar with the nuances of every drug they prescribe, and will often dismiss patient concerns until compelled to act otherwise.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:37 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

it's possible that this was nutrition related as I noticed the hair loss closer to a period of time where I stopped eating a lot- although I've stopped eating a lot much more to the extreme a few years ago not on meds and it didn't cause any problems with my hair. however I didn't notice much hair loss in the last month when I was eating appropriate amounts of food

posted by sunshinesky at 10:39 AM on December 26, 2009

I did a literature search and I found just one result - JAMA. 1988 Jul 8;260(2):183-4. Alopecia and amphetamine use.

The full text was not available through any of the online sources available to my university so I may have to go to the library to find the information.

I read the prescribing information of the drug and the information from drug facts and comparisons - no alopecia was reported (not even as a rare side effect).

I think you have male pattern baldness. Keep taking your prescription! It seems to be working for you.

Nothing about the structure of the drug or the pharmacology makes me think amphetamines could cause this.

If you want to use something for the hair loss - try Rogaine foam twice daily. If that doesn't work ask your doctor about Propecia. You might also try hair skin and nail vitamins but that is more of a try and see vitamin than a likely solution.
posted by verapamil at 9:06 PM on December 26, 2009

« Older Where to find volunteer pen-pals for elders?   |   6 GB of mixed-speed RAM better or worse than 4 GB... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.