ADHD and Caffeine: Can Caffeine make ADHD worse?

ADHD and Caffeine

When you have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the last thing you want is more stimulation. More than 6 million people have ADHD. They find it hard to concentrate or sit still since they are so full of energy. 

This leads many people with ADHD to avoid caffeine. Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive drug in the world because it significantly increases people’s energy.

It makes sense that people with ADHD would want to skip coffee and tea. But caffeine may have some real benefits for them. 

You can live a life with ADHD and caffeine consumption. You just have to know what caffeine does and how it can interact with your symptoms. Here is your guide to caffeine and ADHD. 

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a naturally-occurring substance that appears in dozens of plants. These plants include coffee beans and tea leaves. It acts as a natural pesticide, killing insects. 

A person cannot overdose on caffeine unless they consume it in its pure form. But it can interact with the body and brain in several ways. 

Effects of Caffeine

Many people experience a kick after they drink a caffeinated beverage. This is because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, making a person feel more awake. It also acts as a diuretic, encouraging urination to rid the body of extra salt. 

In some people, caffeine can increase acid in the stomach. This can induce heartburn or nausea. It can also increase the heart rate and blood pressure. 

Caffeinated beverages taste bitter, which can also upset the stomach. Many people add milk and sugar to their drinks to offset this taste. This can cause weight gain.

Yet most people experience no side effects from drinking caffeinated coffee or tea. If anything, coffee and tea have many positive benefits. A 2020 study of more than 2,700 Americans found that coffee and tea drinking promotes heart function. 

But heavy consumption of coffee and tea may cause problems. It can overstimulate the heart and brain. A person should try to avoid drinking more than four cups of caffeinated beverages in one day. 

A person without conditions like ADHD should be able to handle caffeine. They should talk to their doctors if they notice any problems. But the majority of people will likely experience benefits from their consumption. 

How Do ADHD and Caffeine Interact? 

Caffeine and ADHD interact in a couple of different ways. Some people with ADHD struggle to sleep.

Caffeine can keep a person up, exacerbating the signs of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation has many symptoms similar to ADHD, including forgetfulness and inability to focus. As such, sleep deprivation can make ADHD symptoms far worse. 

Caffeine withdrawal can also exacerbate ADHD. Symptoms of withdrawal include difficulty concentrating and jitteriness. 

Benefits of Caffeine and ADHD

Caffeine isn’t all bad either.  In some cases, a person with ADHD can benefit from the effects of caffeine. For example, it makes blood vessels smaller in the brain. This can reduce overactive parts of the brain, helping a person function. 

It can also boost dopamine, a hormone that creates feelings of pleasure. Many people with ADHD do not have high levels of dopamine.

It may also increase concentration. As a stimulant, it can give a person the energy they need to remain focused. 

Caffeine and ADHD medication can interact with each other. One of the most common ADHD pills is Adderall.

Adderall is an amphetamine, which interacts with the nervous system in a similar way to caffeine. This means that the two substances can increase each other’s potency, causing side effects. 

Living With ADHD and Consuming Caffeine 

In general, it’s perfectly fine for a person with ADHD to consume things caffeine unless told otherwise. 

If you haven’t consumed caffeine before, you should talk to your doctor about doing so. If your doctor advises against it, do not consume it. You should otherwise follow your doctor’s orders on how much you can consume. 

Start by drinking small amounts of beverages. Take note of the effects they have on you. You should also evaluate how they interact with your medication and other therapies. 

If you feel you can handle a little more, add a little more to your diet. Try drinking a few small beverages throughout the day. Drinking one large drink may overwhelm your system. 

Do not consume caffeinated beverages an hour before going to bed. Do not ingest caffeine in its pure form. 

Chocolate and other foods contain caffeine. You can have small amounts of these foods. Do not eat them in combination with caffeinated beverages. 

Stop consuming caffeine immediately if you notice side effects like a high heartbeat. Call your doctor right away. 

Some people struggle with ADHD and addiction. If you suffer from an addiction, try to avoid caffeine. You may be tempted to consume it in large amounts, which can harm you. 

Though caffeine is a stimulant, you should not use it to replace your medications. Consume it as a part of your ADHD treatment plan. 

Try to avoid adding sugar to your caffeinated beverages. It can cause hyperactivity, especially in children. It will also spike your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. 

ADHD and Caffeine Effects

ADHD and caffeine are not at ends with each other. Caffeine is a naturally occurring nervous system stimulant. It gives people a jolt of energy that they can rely on for hours. 

People with ADHD may intake caffeine and suffer from sleep deprivation. But many people find that it helps them focus and complete day-to-day tasks easier. 

Consuming small amounts of caffeinated beverages and consulting with a medical professional is a good first step to Consuming small amounts of caffeinated beverages. Make sure they do not interact with or replace your ADHD medications. Consult with a medical professional who can personalize treatments for you and answer more questions. Southern California Sunrise Mental Health is Mission Viejo’s leading recovery center. Contact us today.

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