Here’s how caffeine affects ADHD

By Kristen Underwood — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

How does caffeine affect ADHD?

We all love our caffeine. We reach for it in the morning, afternoon, and even at night. It’s habit for most, but for someone with ADHD, is this benefiting them? Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and often makes us happier and more energetic. For those with ADHD, some feel more comfortable treating it with caffeine as opposed to taking medications for it. But, like everything else, there are pros and cons. Others may consume caffeinated beverages to enhance the effectiveness of their medication.

A few studies have looked at how caffeine can affect ADHD symptoms, but the results are mixed. Even though caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulant therapy is the most common treatment for ADHD, it's not as effective as medication. But some have found relief. 


What are the positive effects of drinking caffeine for ADHD? 

  1. Doctors often prescribe stimulants to ADHD patients because it helps them feel calm and focused — caffeine also has a similar effect and can further help you focus. 
  2. Because of the dopamine increase, it can help improve memory and attention.
  3. It gives you a boost of physical energy.
  4. If you’re a “snoozer” in the morning, the reduction in fatigue is a plus and it helps you get your day started.
  5. And, of course, a fresh hot cup of java hits the spot, every single time.


While all of these effects are enough to make anyone reach for that steaming cup of joe, they’re only temporary, becoming very tempting to keep reaching for more, making us more dependent on caffeine's effects. Without it, you could suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

What are the cons of drinking coffee when you have ADHD?

  1. While it may help for others, too much caffeine may decrease the effectiveness of your medication. A study found that caffeine was much less effective than Dexedrine and Ritalin in treating ADHD.
  2. Too much caffeine may cause headaches and nausea and can make you feel anxious. (To help this, don't drink coffee on an empty stomach and drink plenty of water).
  3. Both ADHD and caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine interferes with your sleep pattern, especially depending on what times of the day you drink coffee


Important to note: Everyone is different. Some people find that caffeine helps their ADHD, while others find it doesn’t offer any benefit. And most importantly, listen to your body and follow up with your doctor to find out what works best for you.

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