Adderall, generic name dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, is prescribed as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Adderall is a stimulant, which helps people with ADHD focus and control symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. A side effect is that Adderall increases wakefulness and can cause insomnia. Adderall can be used off-label to combat fatigue, but there are other prescription drugs that can treat fatigue. Fatigue can be caused by many things, including multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, cancer and infections.
Modafinil, marketed as Provigil, is prescribed to increase wakefulness in patients with sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder. It is used off-label to treat other disorders, such as ADHD, due its stimulant properties, and it may be useful for treating fatigue in patients who do not suffer from sleep disorders.
Methylphenidate, marketed as Ritalin or Concerta in extended-release form, is common used to treat ADHD but is also used off-label to treat fatigue. Methylphenidate is a stimulant similar to Adderall and modafinil. Several studies, including a 1998 study at Christie Hospital in England by Chaturvedi and Macguire and a 2001 study by Sarhill and others at the Cleveland Clinic, found that methylphenidate is clinically effective in reducing fatigue in patients with cancer.
Amantadine, marketed as Symmtrel, is an antiviral drug used to treat influenza. It is also used to treat fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis, or MS. In several clinical trials, 100mg of amantadine twice a day was found to be effective in treating MS-related fatigue.
Caffeine is an over-the-counter alternative to Adderall for fatigue. Caffeine is a natural stimulant commonly found in sodas, coffee and chocolate. Because caffeine is less potent than Adderall or methyphenidate, large doses or more frequent intake of caffeine would be necessary to offset fatigue. For patients with severe fatigue, caffeine is likely to be ineffective.
- Merck Manual: Fatigue
- Provigil: What Is Provigil?
- "Meeting the Challenge of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis"; Patricia K. Coyle and June Halper; 2001
- "Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide to Diagnosis and Management"; Lauren B. Krupp; 2004
- "Medical Etiology, Assessment and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue and Malaise: Clinical Differentiation and Intervention"; Roberto Patarca-Montero; 2004