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Modafinil and Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, & Solutions

Modafinil and Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, & Solutions


Modafinil-induced anxiety is not a common side effect. According to clinical data, it affects only 5% of the users. The symptoms are usually mild and can be prevented. Avoiding overdosing, mixing drugs, and excessive caffeine can be effective measures. 


People with mental health issues are more likely to experience a Modafinil-induced anxiety disorder. 



Anxiety is the last thing one would like to experience when taking Modafinil for better productivity. 

Imagine it's been some time since you took your Modafinil dosage, and you are getting all geared up to complete all the pending tasks. But soon, you start feeling anxious. It can be a nightmare for any corporate worker or a student taking Modafinil for better grades. 

So, before you start Modafinil or its brand drug, Modalert, it is essential to be informed and aware of all the pros and cons. So, here, we try to find a correlation between Modafinil and anxiety and find ways to prevent and cure it. 


Modafinil And Anxiety- The Basics 

Modafinil is a wake-promoting agent that effectively treats Excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with Narcolepsy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it as a Schedule IV prescription drug in the USA. Modafinil is categorized as a psychostimulant and is effective for treating Obstructive sleep apnea and Shift work sleep disorder. 

Anxiety is typically described as the body's response to stress [1]. It is characterized by dizziness, restlessness, fatigue, jitteriness, shallow breathing, and rapid heartbeat. 

Many factors can contribute to causing anxiety, including-

  • Stress is identified as one of the most prevalent causes of anxiety.

  • Substance or drug abuse.

  • Health issues such as diabetes or depression. 

  • Childhood issues or trauma.

  • Surgery. 

  • Side effects from medications 


Understanding Modafinil's Action On Anxiety

There is a lot of debate regarding whether stimulants or Modafinil cause anxiety or worsen the existing symptoms. So here are a few possible theories that explain Modafinil-induced anxiety disorder. 


Any stimulant in general (even caffeine in coffee and theobromine in chocolate) is known to cause anxiety symptoms in people. Studies indicate stimulants, such as amphetamines or Adderall, can increase the risk of anxiety attacks [2]. 


So, how does Modafinil cause anxiety?

Modafinil stimulates the central nervous system, increasing alertness, arousal, and wakefulness. However, excessive stimulation or increased production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin can cause symptoms of anxiety.

According to the information on Very Well Mind, anxiety caused due to Modafinil is much milder than other stimulants [3]. 

Psychological Factors

People with mental health disorders are more likely to suffer from Modafinil-induced anxiety disorder.   

Altering Brain Frequencies 

The brain frequencies help us understand the activities of the brain, along with helping us get an overview of anxiety. 

Modafinil can alter brain frequencies, particularly in the beta range (12-30 Hz), which are associated with alertness and focused thinking. An excessive changes in these frequencies can cause anxiety and stress in some individuals [4].

Individual Variability

Factors such as genetics, overall health, or sensitivity to stimulants can influence how individuals respond to Modafinil. These factors contribute to the varying responses of individuals causing anxiety.


Modafinil interacts with other substances, such as caffeine or certain medications. Administering Modafinil with caffeine or other substances can also increase the risk of anxiety. 


Scientific Studies on Modafinil-Anxiety Relationship

Anxiety after taking Modafinil is identified and listed as one of the common side effects by the FDA [5]. In a clinical trial by the FDA, about 5% of people taking Modafinil experienced anxiety disorder. 

The FDA further states the following reasons for Modafinil-induced anxiety. 

  • Dose-dependent adverse reaction

  • Due to the discontinuation of the treatment. 

  • Overdosing. 

A similar study in 2011 by the Cambridge University Press reports the occurrence of anxiety in the subjects [6]. So, it would be safe to say that the issue of anxiety is experienced by only a few people taking the Nootropic.


Symptoms of Anxiety Caused by Modafinil

Modafinil can cause both emotional and physical signs of anxiety, as mentioned below-

Emotional Symptoms-

  • Restlessness and agitation

  • Feelings of nervousness or unease

  • Heightened irritability or frustration

  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing

  • Racing thoughts or mind going blank

  • Excessive worry or fear about specific situations

Physical Symptoms-

  • Increased heart rate

  • Sweating or clammy hands

  • Muscle tension or trembling

  • Stomachache or nausea

  • Changes in appetite 

  • Fatigue or tiredness


Preventing Modafinil-Related Anxiety 

Here are a few factors that can be taken into consideration while taking Modafinil to prevent the risk. 

  • People with a history of mental health issues should consult a doctor before taking the Nootropic. 

  • Beginners should start with a lower dose of the Nootropic. The standard prescription dose of Modafinil is 200 mg. 

  • Avoid overdosing. 

  • Limit your caffeine intake. 

  • Do not take other medication with Modafinil without consulting a healthcare professional.


How To Reduce Anxiety From Modafinil? 

If you experience anxiety, here are a few effective ways to help you improve your condition. 





When we see a threat, our body stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which gives us the rush to function. It can, at times, result in anxiety. Thus, meditation can be a great way to relax and calm the SNS. 

Practicing meditation and controlled rhythmic breathing relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system and lowers anxiety symptoms. 


Exercising for 10 to 15 minutes daily can help release serotonin and endorphin hormones in the body. It helps in improving mental health and lowering signs of anxiety. Taking Modafinil before exercising can also help people work out better. 

Using supplements- 

L-Theanine is believed to be one of the best supplements to be administered with Modafinil. It is an amino acid present in good-quality tea and as a supplement. However, its effects do not last as long as Modafinil, and thus, the dosage can be split into halves.

Lower the dose- 

As stated by the FDA, anxiety from Modafinil can also be dosage-induced. To prevent or alleviate anxiety caused by Modafinil, consider lowering the dosage. 


Medicine-induced anxiety disorder can be treated effectively with therapy. You can consult a doctor and join a group therapy or get online therapy based on your preference. 


Many healthcare professionals also prescribe sedatives such as Ativan and Zoloft. There are also many people who take Carisoprodol for anxiety. However, it is not approved by the FDA and should not be taken to manage anxiety signs from Modafinil. 


Modafinil For Anxiety- Is It An Effective Solution? 

Just when we were getting a clearer picture of the relation between Modafinil and anxiety, we stumbled upon papers suggesting the use of “Modafinil for anxiety.” 

New research suggests that the Modafinil pill is good for anxiety treatment, adding complexity to its relationship with anxiety.

Modafinil Effects On Serotonin

Serotonin is a chemical messenger between the brain and nerve cells. This chemical messenger plays a key role in maintaining a person's mood. Studies show that a lack of Serotonin levels in the body can cause depression, anxiety, and other health conditions. 

According to the finding by Paul Gerrard, Modafinil can enhance the secretion of serotonin [11]. It thus helps to improve the mood and is responsible for the anxiolytic effect (reducing anxiety and promoting calmness) of the Nootropic. 


Studies Indicating The Use Of Modafinil For Anxiety 

Let us go through the findings of two prevalent studies on using Modafinil for anxiety. 

Case Study 1- 

Conducted by Adrian Johnson et al., published in 2017. 

To understand the effect of Modafinil on anxiety, doses of 0, 2, 20, and 200 mg/L for 30 minutes were tested on Zebrafish. The fish was then placed in a circular arena with a novel object in the center. Using a motion-tracking device, the time spent by the fish in the outer arena (thigmotaxis zone), middle arena transition zone) and the center of the arena was checked [7]. 






The study suggests that using Modafinil helped decrease anxiety-like behavior in Zebrafish. 

Case Study 2- 

Conducted by Roberta Rasetti et al., published in 2010. 

A study on the effects of Modafinil on neural circuits was conducted. The study indicates that Modafinil reduces the activity of amygdala reactivity during a threatening stimuli processing task [8]. 

The amygdala is a part of the brain that lies in the temporal lobe. It plays a key role in controlling the response to anxiety to stressful events [9,10]. Thus, the study suggests that the use of Modafinil can significantly reduce anxiety levels in people. 


Does Modafinil Cause Anxiety- Our Final Thoughts 

The stimulating effect of Modafinil can cause anxiety. It is, however, not a prevalent side effect and is observed to affect about 5% of its users. 

You can avoid anxiety while using Modafinil by adding supplements like L-Theanine, practicing meditation, and adjusting dosages.

On the contrary, there are studies that support the use of Modafinil for anxiety. 

So, for best results from this Nootropic, it is advisable to take Modafinil 200 mg dosage after consulting a physician. 


There are contradicting clinical studies stating the effect of Modafinil on anxiety. Where some studies suggest the use of Modafinil helps in reducing anxiety symptoms, whereas other studies support the theory of Modafinil anxiety in people.

Yes, the use of Modafinil can help in managing stress in people.

Studies indicate that the use of Modafinil can help in enhancing the mood of patients with myotonic dystrophy ( a condition causing muscle wasting and weakness).

Yes, the use of Modafinil helps in boosting the secretion of serotonin in the body.

It takes 30 minutes for Modafinil to start working.

Studies show that about 5% of people taking Modafinil may experience anxiety disorder.

Modafinil can increase anxiety in some individuals, especially at higher doses or in those with existing anxiety issues.


  1. Anxiety Disorders: Causes, Types, Symptoms, & Treatments, HealthLine. 

  2. 12 Ways To Manage Anxiety Caused By Adderall - HealthMatch

  3. How Modafinil Promotes Wakefulness, verywellmind. 

  4. Modafinil Increases Awake EEG Activation and Improves Performance in Obstructive Sleep Apnea during Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Withdrawal, NCBI. 

  5. Reference ID: 3685660 - Accessdata.fda.gov

  6. Chapter 36 - Modafinil/armodafinil in the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness, cambridge.org. 

  7. Modafinil decreases anxiety-like behaviour in zebrafish, peerj. 

  8. Modulatory Effects of Modafinil on Neural Circuits Regulating Emotion and Cognition, nature. 

  9. Neuroanatomy, Amygdala - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. 

  10. The Amygdala and Anxiety - IntechOpen. 

  11. Mechanisms of modafinil: A review of current research, NCBI.