That Morning Coffee Keeps You Focused---Morning Magic

How many times have you heard someone joke about self-medicating with caffeine? How many of us brag about our coffee addictions? Turns out that there’s some science-based truth in all of this coffee grandstanding.

A study from Spain published in Nutrients in March 2022 showed that consuming caffeine can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms, not only in kids, but also in adolescents and adults. The biggest benefit is shown in the areas of attention and retention capacity.

Explosion of ADHD Diagnoses in Adults

ADHD is very common. Almost 10% of kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with some type of attention-related disorder—and according to data from Harvard Medical School, 4.4% of adults have ADHD.

4.4%? That many? Really? 

Apparently that is a lowball estimate. In fact, adults are currently being diagnosed with ADHD at 4 times the rate of children. It makes sense considering that ADD with or without hyperactivity was not added to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) until 1980. Then, in 1987, ADD was updated to ADHD, which combines inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Until relatively recently, ADHD was a kids’ diagnosis. But kids who have ADHD generally grow up to be adults with ADHD (though not always). 

Bottom line: Since ADHD doesn’t just go away, it all comes down to how you manage it.

Is Drinking Coffee a Form of Self-Medication?

I wonder how many of us are intuitively treating our ADHD with coffee? Like the pharmaceuticals used to treat ADHD (Concerta, Ritalin, etc.), caffeine is a stimulant. Since 1975, numerous studies have been conducted to analyze the effect of caffeine on symptoms associated with attention-related disorders.

Finally the research is catching up with the reality. In this latest study, the lead researcher, Javier Vázquez, from the University of Barcelona in Spain, and his team concluded that:

 “Caffeine treatment increases attention and improves learning, memory, and olfactory discrimination without altering blood pressure and body weight.”

What About Drugs?  Should Caffeine be Prescribed for ADHD?

 Stimulants have a paradoxical effect on the brains of people with ADHD---a calming, focusing effect. But attention disorders are not new. Investigation into what is now called ADHD  dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Ritalin (methylphenidate) has been around since the 1940’s and was used to treat “hyperkinetic reaction of childhood,” which is essentially the precursor of ADHD.

The general consensus among clinicians is that caffeine should be part of the toolbox for treating ADHD, along with medication and therapy. Unfortunately not everyone tolerates ADHD medications very well (though medication has proven very effective). Caffeine has a completely different MOA than the medications used to treat ADHD and is widely tolerated.

It should be noted that caffeine has not been proven effective for treating the impulsivity part of ADHD. 

If, however, you need to get some work done, well then, let caffeine be one of your competitive advantages.



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