One of the most beloved effects from your morning cup of coffee comes in the way that it wakes you up. Because of the caffeine, you become more alert and focused. Well it turns out that the caffeine in coffee can also help to allay symptoms related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) Studies are starting to show that drinking the caffeine in coffee for ADHD can help to treat a problem that doctors tend to refer out to the pharmacy.
For decades, children and adults with ADHD have been treated with powerful prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin and Adderall. While patients often see their symptoms eased, they are also left with strong physical addictions as well as other side effects, including bipolar disorder, aggression, anxiety, and seizures.
Prepubescent ADHD and Caffeine
A 2011 study showed that caffeine was effective for allaying ADHD symptoms in neonatal rats. While the rats did not show any improvement in motor activity, they did improve their focus when scientists provided them with caffeine. Scientists hypothesized that caffeine might thus be effective in treating prepubescent ADHD in human subjects.
The Heart of the Issue: Dopamine
Dopamine is at the heart of the issue, chiefly because patients with ADHD have been shown to have lower than normal levels of dopamine. Stimulant drugs are then used to raise the dopamine levels to more correct levels. If dopamine goes too high, patients experience anxiety and other negative side effects. However, with the right dose, a stimulant like caffeine can raise dopamine production to a level that helps an ADHD patient focus. And this includes focusing enough to perform daily tasks such as reading, or remaining attentive to duties at work.
Synergistic Treatment: Caffeine for ADHD
For some, having a cup of coffee on top of their pharmaceutical medications might be
helpful, and caffeine and prescription amphetamines have a synergistic relationship,
meaning that each enhances the effects of the other. A patient who drinks a cup of coffee
for ADHD treatment, on top of his Adderall or Ritalin prescription, will experience a heightened effect, but he will also find that any negative side effects are enhanced. Patients might use this information to work with their doctors to see if lower doses of their regular ADHD medications could be prescribed on the assumption that they can be augmented with a cup or two of coffee.
Caffeine for ADHD: Not a One-Size Fits All Fix
It should be noted that caffeine may not provide the same benefits for everyone. ADHD arises from many different genetic mutations, which can come in a variety of combinations and create the same effects. So, if a cup or two of coffee is making someone anxious and jittery, that might not be an appropriate treatment for their ADHD. They might want to try decaf coffee and discuss their issues related to focus with a medical doctor or other healthcare provider, instead.
ADHD is a serious mental health issue that can be potentially helped out with caffeine. While there doesn’t seem to be any great risk in drinking coffee to help with focus and attention, no one should attempt to medicate themselves without consulting a healthcare professional first.