Does Modafinil help with Anxiety?
You get on a drug to boost your productivity and it takes you for a drive with anxiety attacks; Quite the opposite, right?
Well, Modafinil anxiety does exactly that!
It’s a drug used in medicine, as a treatment for:
- Sleep disorders like ‘sleep apnoea’ and narcolepsy
- Sleep disruptions associated with shift work
- ADHD, to help within attention and hyperactivity
Creative freelancers, students, and business executives often use this drug to enhance their productivity at school or work.
Modafinil is a prescription-only medication in most countries and it will require the same from a doctor, to be purchased from a local pharmacy. Countries like Singapore, Australia, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States have restricted its sale by any of the in-stores or online pharmacies.
However, countries like India don’t have the same regulations, placing it in a legal grey area. Therefore, retailers in India are allowed to market the drug online to people around the world.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a perfectly healthy psychological response, designed to help us quickly adapt to the changes in our environment. It is something that virtually everyone has experienced at some point in life.
It’s inevitable when we come face to face with an acute threat. For example, being on a cliff is a common trigger of ‘fight or flight’ response in the brain, for most people.
Hypothalamus is a specialized brain region thatsends hormones to adrenals and thyroid glands, to initiate stress-response.
Several organs make rapid changes to the body and work together to give it the best odds of getting out of danger.
Physiological changes are the opportunities givento us by anxiety which earn us more chances to survive and succeed.
Causes of Anxiety-
- History of child abuse
- Side effects of medications
- Heart disease
- Caffeine, alcohol, or use of cannabis
- Sleep deprivation
- Inability to cope with stressful environments
- Illicit Drug use
Effects of Anxiety-
- Shallow breathing
- Fast heart rate
Brain Activity during Anxiety Attacks
|Wavelength||Frequency||State of Mind|
|Delta||0.5–4.0 Hz||Deep Slumber|
|Theta||4.0–7.0 Hz||Light Sleep|
|Alpha||7.5–12.5 Hz||Focused, relaxed|
|Beta||12.5–40.0 Hz||Alert, anxious|
Stimulants and Anxiety
Various stimulants that come with the risk of triggering anxiety are-
- Caffeine from Coffee
- Theobromine from Chocolate
- THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis
- Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
Anxiety itself evokes overstimulation of CNS (Central Nervous System).
Why Modafinil causes Anxiety?
The reason is apparent; Too much of a good thing leads to a state of heightened anxiety and overstimulation.
Modafinil anxiety tends to intensify:
- Executive Function
How does Modafinil anxiety work mechanistically?
- Modafinil stimulates specific circuits to increase adaptive stress in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA).
- It rather boosts histamine than blocking it, thus amplifying wakefulness.
- Modafinil increases dopamine, glutamate, orexin, and decreases Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Anxiety induced by modafinil depends on your genotype, your baseline level of anxiety, and the environment.
Modafinil is less likely to make you anxious if you tend to be low-energy. But it can push you into an overstimulated disposition if you’re relatively energetic.
How Metabolism and Genetics Affect Response to Modafinil Anxiety?
Genetics play a big role in your body’s response to a drug.
If you have SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in Cytochromes P450 (CYPs) enzymes that metabolize a drug, this can lead to higher than normal blood levels and your ability to clear out the drug will be reduced. Ethnicity, age, and sex can also affect drug pharmacokinetics.
Slowed removal of modafinil could result in exacerbating anxiety, due to a build-up of the drug in your system.
Modafinil is metabolized through the following mechanisms:
- Amide Hydrolysis (a major mechanism)
An SNP could impair the rate at which modafinil is removed from your body by any of these enzymes.
Age, impairment in the liver or kidneys, and mutations in CYP enzymes can all impede modafinil clearance. When modafinil excretion is stalled, it precipitates anxiety and can accumulate in your system.
Modafinil Anxiety is of no use and is a good example of an instance when anxiety is not warranted.
Stop Modafinil Anxiety before it starts
L-Theanine is an amino acid isomer found in high-quality tea and is likely to be the best supplement to take with modafinil.
Benefits of L-Theanine
- It has the ability to improve focus and relax the mind.
- It has been shown to increase alpha-wave activity in mind.
- It is also used to decrease the side effects of caffeine.
The recommended dosage of L-Theanine is 200-400 mg per day.
2. Meditation/ Breathing Exercises
Modafinil spurs the activity of our sympathetic nervous system, which is a part of the nervous system associated with fight or flight response.
Therefore, when we are stressed out, the threshold for anxiety attacks is much lower.
Meditation and Breathing Exercises are the best way to keep our stress at bay. 15 minutes of rhythmic and relaxed breathing before taking Modafinil, takes control of the central nervous system and overrides the stress response.
Also, slowed breathing accompanied by manual control over the lungs, and guiding it towards relaxation, can effectively turn down the stress response.
3. Avoid Caffeine and Other Stimulants
Mixing Modafinil with caffeine is an easy way to induce anxiety. Try getting a different beverage in place of your morning coffee, such as-
- Herbal Tea
- Herbs like Passionflower or Chamomile
4. Reduce your dose
Modafinil affects everybody differently and sometimes a normal dose for one person is much too high for the other. So, regulating and re-evaluating the dosage may essentially benefit a person who is experiencing anxiety.
Reduce your dosage to 100 mg or as little as50 mg.
5. Investigate other causes of Anxiety
These are some diseases and factors that can worsen anxiety-
- heart disease
- vagus nerve dysfunction
- sleep restriction
- nutritional deficiencies
6. Supplements and Nootropics for Modafinil Anxiety
Taking a supplement to counteract modafinil anxiety is another option worth exploring.
Some of these supplements with low downside risks are:
- Valerian (it increases GABA in synapse and may also inhibit enzymes that degrade GABA)
If you Still Experience Modafinil Anxiety, Do This
Anxiety may still strike even after trying out everything. Here’s what to do:
- Stop, breathe and take a walk
- Distract yourself
- Drink water
- Munch on your comfort food!
- Take bath or hit the sauna
- Bring home air purifying plants
- Indulge in aromatherapy
- Sip on turmeric tea
- Decrease glycemic load
Modafinil is an excellent agent to promote productivity and wakefulness. Unfortunately, it also brings along side-effects like panic attacks and anxiety, due to its influence on the central nervous system.
So, listen to your body and follow the advice above to minimize your chances of experiencing anxiety attacks!