Adhd caffeine opposite effect

Caffeine’s Effect on ADHD Symptoms I Psych Central

A combination of medication and therapy are common for managing ADHD, but could caffeine be an option, too?

Many of us love a good cup of coffee in the morning or a piece of chocolate as a midday pick-me-up. But these foods and drinks may do more than just satisfy your taste buds.

Treats that contain caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant, are not only delicious, but might also boost alertness and attention.

Because some medications prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also stimulants, there’s some speculation that caffeine may help ADHD symptoms.

But is caffeine a possible option to help manage symptoms of ADHD?

Let’s take a look at what scientists have to say about the effects of caffeine on ADHD, the risks and benefits, and whether it’s something you might want to consider as a way to manage your ADHD symptoms.

Caffeine, aka 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, is a compound found in coffee, tea, and chocolate, as well as some energy and soft drinks.

Caffeine interacts with a molecule in the body called adenosine, which assists with communication between brain cells and acts as a nervous system depressant.

Adenosine levels increase throughout the day and help promote feelings of drowsiness.

Caffeine interferes with this process by counteracting the effects of adenosine, promoting alertness and focus. It also impacts other parts of the body by increasing heart rate and constricting blood vessels. Additionally, it can amp up dopamine production in the brain, leading to improved mood.

Too much caffeine, on the other hand, can cause nervousness, jitteriness, or a rapid heart rate and can also lead to nausea or sleep disturbances.

Common treatment options for ADHD include medication and therapy, or a combination of both.

Some might also try complementary and alternative strategies, such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, to help with their symptoms.

Because it has stimulant properties, consuming caffeine could theoretically be a helpful way to manage ADHD symptoms.

However, caffeine affects everyone differently.

While some with ADHD find that it helps them focus and concentrate, others experience the opposite effect and become increasingly irritable or agitated.

While some people report benefits from adding caffeine into their daily routine, others don’t. If you’re contemplating trying caffeine as a way to lessen your ADHD symptoms, it might be helpful to look into the latest research for answers.

One study found that young, hyperactive rodents who received caffeine combined with exercise showed improvements in behavioral performance, serotonin and dopamine levels, and the brain’s ability to make new connections.

The research team suggested that these results provide new evidence that caffeine in conjunction with exercise starting in adolescence may be a possible treatment option for ADHD.

Other recent research exploring caffeine use in U.S. Army soldiers with ADHD found promising evidence that consuming caffeinated foods and drinks may improve cognitive performance and impulsive behavior.

Researchers said that more research is needed, but preliminary evidence indicates caffeine or other adenosine receptor antagonists may play a role in treating this mental health condition.

Although these studies show some evidence that caffeine works for ADHD symptoms, others reveal something different. For example, research published in Current Developments in Nutrition found that caffeine used alone increased impulsivity in adolescent boys.

Scientists looked at the use of caffeine and L-theanine — an amino acid found in tea and some mushroom species — as a potential tool to help improve ADHD symptoms in children.

In adolescent boys, these compounds used separately seemed to increase impulsive behavior. However, combining caffeine and L-theanine improved attention and overall mental performance.

Another study found that in 302 adolescents ages 12 to 14, caffeine consumption was higher among participants with ADHD, especially in the afternoon. Researchers noted that this increased caffeine use during afternoon hours was associated with sleep disturbances. But this tendency toward poor sleep only occurred in adolescents living with ADHD.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates that 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day — the equivalent of about four or five cups of coffee — isn’t widely associated with dangerous side effects in healthy adults.

However, because everyone metabolizes caffeine differently, some people can experience unwanted side effects even when consuming small amounts.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adult Psychiatry (AACAP), there’s no proven safe dose of caffeine for children. They suggest limiting the consumption of this stimulant compound to 100 mg or less per day for young people ages 12 to 18. For children under 12 years old, they advise avoiding caffeine use altogether.

Prescription medications for ADHD, these can interact with caffeine, resulting in uncomfortable jitteriness. Additionally, the symptoms of an underlying health condition, such as an irregular heart rhythm, can increase with caffeine consumption.

Before adding this stimulant to your daily routine, consider talking with a medical or mental health professional.

After reviewing what scientists have to say about caffeine for ADHD, there are still many unanswered questions.

Although caffeine isn’t a standardized treatment and there are no set dosages to go by, there’s some evidence that it may help manage symptoms.

If you feel caffeine might help you or a loved one living with ADHD, the first step is to talk with a healthcare professional, either through an in-office visit or a telehealth appointment, if it’s available to you.

Because every person responds to caffeine differently, whether you try it or any other treatment option for ADHD is a personal choice.

How Do Caffeinated Drinks Affect ADHD

Written by Michelle Konstantinovsky

The most common treatment for ADHD is stimulant therapy. These drugs can improve your focus and attention span and help control impulsive behavior.

The most widely used stimulant, and the most popular drug in the world, is caffeine. It's in coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, and other foods.

A few studies have looked at how caffeine can affect ADHD symptoms, but the results have been mixed. Even though caffeine is a stimulant, it's not generally recommended as a treatment for ADHD because it hasn't proved to be as effective as prescription medications.

How It Works

Stimulants, including caffeine, raise the amount of specific chemicals that your brain uses to send signals. One of these is dopamine. It's linked to pleasure, attention, and movement.

When you have ADHD, doctors often prescribe stimulants to help you feel more calm and focused. Some researchers believe that because studies show the caffeine in tea can improve alertness and concentration, it might work for ADHD, too.

Some scientists think caffeine has potential as an ADHD treatment because of its effect on dopamine levels, which improved memory and attention in rats. In another study, when hyperactive rats were given caffeine before they went through a maze, they got better at it. This suggests caffeine can improve spatial learning. While these studies are interesting, rats aren't people.

The Downside

More than 400 milligrams of caffeine is more likely to cause problems including:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Upset stomach

A study found that caffeine was much less effective than dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin), two kinds of medication commonly used to treat ADHD.

For Children

Experts don't recommend giving caffeine to children, especially if they're taking prescription medication for ADHD. Kids may be more vulnerable to the side effects of caffeine. And it's possible that it can affect brain development in growing children.

While an older study found that high doses of caffeine (600 milligrams) every day helped control hyperactivity symptoms in children, there were many side effects.

Kids with ADHD generally have more sleep problems and have trouble staying alert during the day. Caffeine can disrupt sleep, which could make these issues worse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no children should have energy drinks, since the high levels of stimulants -- including caffeine -- can cause serious health problems.

Is It Right for You?

Caffeine, like ADHD medications, may affect one person differently than another. Talk to your doctor before you start to use caffeine to help your symptoms.

If you're taking a prescription stimulant, also taking caffeine could cause more or worse side effects.

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benefits and harms for ADHD in children and adults

Caffeine - in a glass to go, in a rustling chocolate wrapper, or in a can of forbidden Coca-Cola intercepted on the run - is a natural stimulant that causes the brain to produce more dopamine. This is the explanation why children and adults with ADHD literally cannot live without it. But how safe and effective is caffeine for ADHD symptoms? Here you will find research on the effects of caffeine on children and adults with ADHD and expert opinion. nine0003

Alla Rezyapova

Pawel Czerwinski | Unsplash

Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, candy bars - many of us use caffeine throughout the day to get a quick energy boost. Caffeine excites the nervous system and increases the production of dopamine, and it becomes easier for us to move, focus on important tasks and maintain concentration. The internationally approved ADHD treatment protocol often includes stimulants that work in a similar way. But can caffeine help manage ADHD symptoms? Is it safe for children and adults to consume so much caffeine? nine0003

Contents of the article

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

How does caffeine affect the brain and body?

Everyone has their own relationship with caffeine. Most experts agree that this natural stimulant is perfectly safe. But only in moderation! If you overdo it with coffee, you may experience side effects:

  • nervousness,
  • anxiety,
  • palpitations,
  • indigestion,
  • increased anxiety,
  • migraine,
  • sleep disturbance,
  • muscle anxiety

But it can be the other way around: instead of side effects, you will get a lot of benefits from coffee. Studies say that this drink not only improves concentration and alertness, but helps ease headaches, improve memory, and even prevent cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. nine0003

“Overall, caffeine improves our performance,” notes Ari Tuckman, a psychologist and author.

However, he adds that when combined with ADHD medications, caffeine can have an unpleasant effect: increased nervousness and anxiety. Some drugs do not mix well with caffeine at all - be sure to discuss this point with your doctor after receiving a prescription.

More information about the effects of caffeine on the body in the video


Click and watch

How does caffeine affect ADHD?

The effect of caffeine on ADHD is truly paradoxical. For some, this stimulant calms, for others it only increases anxiety. Despite the mixed effects, many ADHD adults and parents of children with ADHD report that a little caffeine helps increase focus and concentration. However, Tuckman notes that patients who take stimulants as a treatment for ADHD tend to be less likely to need large doses of caffeine. nine0003

Larry Silver, MD, clinical psychiatrist, is confident that enough caffeine to affect ADHD is likely to cause arousal.

"I don't recommend drinking caffeinated drinks or taking caffeine tablets to treat ADHD," says Dr.

How much caffeine can be consumed per day without harm to health?

The Mayo Clinic gives these numbers:

  1. 400 mg of caffeine is safe for an adult—that's about 4 cups of coffee. nine0022
  2. 45mg caffeine is safe for 4 to 6 year olds.
  3. 85 mg safe for 10 to 12 year old child.
  4. 300 mg caffeine is the maximum for a woman who is pregnant or planning to give birth.

What do the studies say about caffeine treatment for ADHD?

Research that looks at the relationship between ADHD and caffeine is not new, but its volume and quality are still modest.

  • 2011 Journal of Medical Hypotheses and Ideas. Scientists have concluded that drinking tea may be an effective treatment for ADHD in adults. nine0022
  • Another study was done on rats and the rats were alert and energetic.
  • In 2013, scientists became interested in the healing potential of caffeine in improving attention in children with ADHD and normalizing dopamine levels.

What do ADHD patients say about their relationship with caffeine?

Five years ago, Attitude magazine collected 4,000 responses from all over the US about this unusual friendship-hate. Here are some of the answers:

  • “We are trying to reduce sugar, caffeine (chocolate) and increase protein intake”;
  • "Caffeine is good, but in moderation," said another;
  • And another said she uses fish oil, caffeine, vitamin D and exercise to manage her symptoms.

In general, personal experience says the same thing: caffeine helps some people, not others. And your ideal method does not always coincide with the opinion of doctors or the experience of other people.

What other treatments are there for ADHD, and which ones work?


Doctors often prescribe glycine, noopept, cortexin for ADHD in children. And here a number of problems arise.

  • For example, although glycine is good for the brain, its concentration in tablets is too low to break through the protective layer to those cells where it is needed. In higher concentrations, they can easily be poisoned.
  • Noopept is indicated for a wide range of brain diseases; it is prescribed for injuries and age patients with vascular problems. In this capacity, it is even used abroad, where it is known by the same name. At the same time, it can also make life much easier for young patients with ADHD: it helps to improve sleep, reduces asthenic manifestations, and improves concentration. nine0022
  • The third popular drug is Cortexin. It has no scientific evidence of effectiveness, but some doctors note that it helps reduce ADHD symptoms in children.

Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

Another group of drugs used in the treatment of ADHD, more "heavy artillery" - norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Norepinephrine is a hormone that helps you think better, find your motivation, alertness, and regulate your heart rate when you're stressed. RNII increase the production of this hormone in the body and thereby make life easier for a person with ADHD. In addition, SNRIs help with fibromyalgia. nine0003

Transcranial electrical stimulation (TES, electrosleep):

a method invented by Soviet scientists who dreamed of inventing a drug-free pain reliever. As a result, TES began to be used for a wide range of diseases; judging by this list, this method is almost a panacea. TES is used for toxicosis of pregnancy and diabetes, they promise normalization of behavior in children and treatment of behavioral reactions in children and correction of psychoorganic disorders in the elderly. And all this with the help of electricity! nine0003

It is difficult for us to judge the effectiveness of this method, but many studies on small samples of patients compared with the control group indicate the effectiveness of this method. At least in the fight against stress: for example, a group of 69 athletes after heavy, exhausting competitions, under the influence of TES, recovered faster than the control group of 37 people. However, this study does not answer the question of whether the accelerated recovery was due to the placebo effect. Of course, part of our skepticism is due to the fact that the author of these lines also underwent treatment for ADHD with the help of electric sleep - and this did not help at all. nine0003


Click and watch

Paradoxically, while in Russia they try to calm and slow down children and adults with ADHD, abroad they take stimulants for the treatment of ADHD. In our country, most of these drugs are banned or considered drugs.

Do you have ADHD?

The main mystery of coffee has been revealed: why does it invigorate some, while others fall asleep

Komsomolskaya Pravda



June 6, 2015 12:00

A geneticist told Radio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" on air what happens in our body after a cup of aromatic drink and named 5 factors that affect the reaction to caffeine [exclusive, audio]

Why does coffee invigorate some people and make others fall asleep? - with such comments on social networks, the video became a hit. On the video - a fragment of speech family medicine doctor, nutritionist Konstantin Zabolotny. The doctor claims that when processing beans for the production of instant coffee, the shell containing the main dose of caffeine is removed - this valuable substance is used to manufacture medicines, energy drinks, and so on. Coffee lovers also get the core, consisting of theobromine and other substances that do not stimulate, but, supposedly, on the contrary, relax and lull. “Therefore, many people want to take a nap after a cup of instant coffee, and I drink it at night to sleep well,” the expert concludes. And he advises in no case to use the drink as a stimulant before a long road behind the wheel: there is a very high risk of falling asleep and getting into an accident. If you drink freshly brewed grain coffee, then there is no danger of falling asleep at the wrong time, Dr. Zabolotny reassures. nine0003

The video caused a heated discussion. Some refute by their own example: the biggest surge of vivacity occurs precisely after instant coffee, grain is much weaker! Others thank the lecturer: now we finally understand why he is falling asleep. Still others are indignant: the mentioned theobromine sleeper is not in coffee at all! And the fourth ones sigh: even the strongest grain drink does not invigorate us, why?..

Everyone should know this about Coffee!

What you need to know about coffee. Mechanism of action of instant coffee and coffee from whole grains. Zabolotny Konstantin Borisovich - an independent expert of traditional and modern health technologies, family medicine doctor, nutritionist, health technologist.

To clarify all these issues, we turned to authoritative scientific and medical sources.

- In fact, any coffee contains caffeine, and theobromine, and other alkaloid substances that primarily affect our brain, - explains geneticist, head of the analytical department of the biomedical holding "Atlas" Dmitry Nikogosov. - There is always much more caffeine than other alkaloids - both in grain coffee and in instant coffee, and how our body perceives this substance depends on five main factors. nine0003

1. The ratio of "accelerators" and "brakes" in the brain

We have special molecules in the brain that trap caffeine - adenosine receptors. There are four types: two stimulating, invigorating - like the gas pedal and two others - like the brake pedal. In most people, "inhibitory" receptors predominate over those that speed up the brain. When such a person drinks coffee, the brake is blocked by caffeine, and the brain starts to work faster, concentration improves, and cheerfulness is felt in general. nine0003

At the same time, there is a smaller proportion of people who have the opposite ratio of adenosine receptors: “gas” receptors, initially more accelerating than “braking”. In this case, caffeine predominantly blocks stimulatory receptors (because they predominate), and as a result, brain function slows down, people begin to feel weak and drowsy.


- If you, like most people, are dominated by the "brake" type of receptors that you can block with caffeine and feel cheerful, then with long-term use of large doses of strong coffee, there will be even more such receptors, - Dmitry warns Nikogosov. This happens because our brain and body as a whole is a very stable system that always seeks to balance any external influence, to adapt to it. If we increase stimulation with caffeine, then the brain increases inhibition. As a result, addiction occurs: the traditional dose of the drink does not give the effect of cheerfulness, and without another cup of coffee, weakness covers more than ever. nine0003

The main mystery of coffee has been revealedPhoto: RUSSIAN LOOK

To get rid of such unpleasant manifestations, neuroscientists advise taking a break, completely abstaining from coffee - in just a few days, the number of adenosine receptors will return to normal.

2. The state of the liver

Everything we eat and drink is absorbed into the blood, and the blood always passes through the liver. In this organ, various substances from foods and drinks are metabolized, that is, processed, and then returned to the blood again and enter other internal organs, including the brain. During the processing of caffeine, its concentration and, accordingly, activity decreases. nine0003

At the same time, if a person has liver diseases - cirrhosis, hepatitis, then liver enzymes work less, caffeine is filtered out less, and more of it reaches the brain. Therefore, the effect of coffee is sharper and stronger.

"People like that - who have low liver enzymes due to illness or genetics - should drink less coffee than someone with a healthy liver," our expert advises. One or two cups of a relatively weak drink will help to cheer up well, but if you exceed this rate, then a strong heartbeat, headache and other troubles may begin. nine0003

3. Pressure readings.

Three options are possible:

- If you have low blood pressure , then coffee will raise it, but not much: “Contrary to myths, caffeine has little effect on blood pressure,” explains Dmitry Nikogosov.

- If the pressure is normal - 120/80 - then caffeine, most likely, will not change it at all. That is, the effect of cheerfulness, associated precisely with the rise in pressure, will be almost imperceptible.

- If a person has high blood pressure, even its slightest rise is very noticeable, the risk of a hypertensive crisis increases.


The main targets affected by coffee in our body are the brain, heart and blood vessels. Namely:

- Brain : concentration improves, mental activity is activated, the tone in general increases.

- Heart : increases the strength and frequency of heart contractions. Because of this, coffee is dangerous for coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and hypertension. nine0003

- Vessels : the blood vessels of the muscles, heart and kidneys dilate (so coffee has a slight diuretic effect), the vessels constrict in the rest of the abdominal organs.

4. Companion drinks

Many people like coffee with milk, but recently there have appeared “horror stories” on the Internet: they say that such a combination is almost poison.

- Caffeine is strongly associated with milk proteins, because of this it enters the hepatic bloodstream more slowly and eventually reaches the brain and other organs gradually, in smaller portions, our expert explains. - Therefore, when we drink cappuccino, latte and other coffee drinks with milk or cream, we get a longer and smoother effect. Coffee has a milder effect on the heart, blood vessels and nervous system. nine0003

But if you drink coffee with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice with pulp or eat a slice of grapefruit, then the effect of caffeine, on the contrary, will increase. Studies have shown that the substances found in this type of citrus block one of the active liver enzymes. Therefore, caffeine, passing through the liver, is processed and neutralized to a lesser extent, reaches the brain to a greater extent, acts sharper and stronger. By the way, no such effect was noticed from orange fresh.

5. The amount of water in the body

In the summer, when we often sweat because of the heat, the body may experience a lack of fluid. If its losses are not replenished, the volume of circulating blood decreases, and the concentration of substances that come with food and drinks in the blood is higher. Therefore, if you drink little water in hot weather and do not deny yourself coffee, you need to be prepared for the fact that the exciting and stimulating effect of caffeine will be noticeably stronger.


If your hands begin to tremble after a cup of drink, you become too nervous, you get a frightening heartbeat, drink some water as soon as possible. This will quickly reduce the concentration of caffeine in the blood and weaken its effect.


Cereal or instant - what's the difference for the body?

- Instant coffee is more processed, and it contains fewer active substances, so it is slightly weaker than grain and, let's say, more predictable in terms of effects on the body, - says a geneticist, head of the analytical department of the biomedical holding "Atlas" Dmitry Nikogosov. - But in unprocessed grain coffee there are more invigorating alkaloids and at the same time other active substances, so its effect is more multifaceted and to a certain extent still mysterious for us: it is more difficult to predict possible positive and negative effects for different organs and systems. So the research continues. nine0003

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