Coffee and ADHD: Does Coffee Trigger ADHD?

March 29, 2021


Coffee is arguably one of the most popular beverages across the world. This is attributed to the fact that it is a natural stimulant since it contains caffeine. For that reason, caffeine boosts the production of dopamine in the brain. It is a great source of a quick energy surge that many consumers need to stimulate their nervous system, enhance body movement, improve attention, and stay focused. No wonder many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) consume coffee to feel relaxed.

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But is caffeine in coffee safe and effective when it comes to treating ADHD symptoms? Read on to find the answers.


Is Coffee Bad for ADHD?

Coffee has varying effects on different people. Some of the effects are positive while others cause negative reactions. Some experts suggest that moderate consumption of coffee is safe while others point out that too much of this natural stimulant can cause serious side effects in the long run.

Some of the common side effects range from anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, upset stomach to rapid heartbeat, sleeplessness, muscle tremors, and migraines. On the flip side, coffee may help with alertness, increased focus, weakened headache, and boost memory among those suffering from ADHD. In the actual sense, coffee plays an integral part in improving performance among ADHD patients. This is one of the caffeine opposite effects that are experienced by different people with ADHD. 

Sadly, those on ADHD medication are likely to experience feelings of extra jittery immediately after consuming excess coffee. As a matter of fact, certain medications may interact with each other poorly when they combine with caffeine.  However, the effects of coffee consumption on ADHD are a debatable topic among experts. The stimulant makes some people calm while increasing cases of anxiety in others. 

On the other hand, a small caffeine dosage for an ADHD child, and even an adult with the same condition can help boost concentration and focus. In summary, coffee is useful since it seems to normalize dopamine levels in addition to improving attention in patients with ADHD. But this is only possible when this natural stimulant is not taken in excessive amounts.


Coffee and ADHD
Benefits of Coffee for ADHD


Why Does Caffeine Help ADHD?

As stated earlier, caffeine in coffee is a natural stimulant. This means it is a widely consumed psychoactive drug worldwide. That said, there is a relationship between caffeine and ADHD-and for a simple reason. 

Most medical treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder involve the use of stimulants. These particular stimulants are usually known to activate the central nervous system. Since coffee is one of these strong stimulants, some health experts advocate for use of it to help moderate the effects associated with the disorder. 

This statement is backed up by a 2013 research that was published in European Neuropsychopharmacology which suggests that coffee could be taken by ADHD patients as a form of treatment. This is because coffee appears to improve attention as well as normalizing levels of dopamine in patients with ADHD. 

A 2014 review published in the Journal of  Psychopharmacology recommended the drinking of caffeine as a way to treat ADHD. The review further suggested that caffeine in coffee represses adenosine receptors’ action in the brain. Keep in mind that attention and cognition are triggered by the adenosine receptors. Therefore, the review in the journal supported the idea that caffeine may cause stimulating effects in people with ADHD/ADD. 

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Even though caffeine may have similar effects as those of ADHD medications, it may not be a better option for ADHD treatment due to the following reasons:

  1. The content of caffeine is different from one type of drink to another. Aside from that, it is extremely difficult to know the amount of caffeine in a particular product, including coffee. 
  2. Using only caffeine to treat ADHD may not be enough given that such remedies are not strong enough for patients with severe ADHD.
  3. Combining caffeine with other medications for treating ADHD can lead to a stimulant overload, causing serious problems in the process.


Should You Give a Child with ADHD Coffee?

Yes, but only under medical supervision. Caffeine dosage for a child is not the same as that for an adult. This is a very important point to note every time you are using this natural stimulant as your kid’s ADHD treatment. 

According to the Canadian government, the most ideal caffeine dosage for a young person should not exceed 45mg for kids aged between 4 and 6 years, 62 mg for 7 to 9-year-olds, and 85mg for those kids aged from 10 to 12 years. 

Excess caffeine can lead to the risk of adverse effects. It can also interfere with their growth and development of the brain by reducing nutritional intake and reducing sleep. So, when giving your little one some coffee to treat their ADHD condition, do it in moderation as directed by your therapist.


Caffeine Risks
Risks of Using Heavy Caffeine


Does Coffee Worsen ADHD?

Absolutely yes! Coffee makes ADHD worse when it is taken in large quantities. This increases the quantity of caffeine which in turn causes adverse effects. Too much caffeine can make you lose focus on specific tasks. 

Lack of focus is one of the symptoms of ADHD and can become worse by drinking a lot of coffee. Other problems that can be made worse by coffee include anxiety and lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation may lead to cognitive problems such as forgetfulness. Again drinking excess coffee while taking stimulant medication for ADHD can cause overstimulation, heart palpitations, and many other potentially adverse side effects.

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Final Thoughts

Are you struggling with ADHD even after drinking coffee? If yes, you need to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Coffee can worsen your ADHD condition if you drink it in large quantities. At Mango Clinic we can help you address this problem by diagnosing and offering the best treatment for this condition. Our team of medical professionals will attend to your problem by offering the right treatment and ADHD medication to help you lead a normal life.

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