These days, it’s not uncommon to hear people say “Oh, I’m so ADD!” While we used to associate ADD or ADHD primarily with children, many adults today are being diagnosed with it, as well. Before you assume you have ADD and go to a doctor who will prescribe dangerous stimulant drugs, you owe it to yourself to find the underlying cause of your symptoms. Did you know that research demonstrates a definite connection between low thyroid function and ADD/ADHD?
ADD vs. ADHD
First of all, there’s ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Although the terms are often used interchangeably, ADD is one of three types of ADHD.
ADHD is a chronic condition that includes difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive disorder. The symptoms differ from person to person. Both children and adults can have ADHD. There are three main types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and a combined type.
Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job. This affects their personal finances and family life. They may have poor listening skills, are distracted easily and have a problem with attention, all of which affect their career. They can be restless, edgy or tense. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, addiction and controlling emotions.
Children with ADHD also have trouble paying attention, and may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses. These behaviors interfere with school and home life.
Symptoms of ADD/ADHD
Hard time paying attention to details
Trouble staying on topic while talking, not listening to others
Research – The Hypothyroidism Connection
What many people don’t realize is that hypothyroidism can be a cause of ADHD symptoms. Low thyroid function affects the brain, as is evidenced by brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, depression, inability to focus, and difficulty concentrating or performing basic tasks.
Research found that people with generalized resistance to thyroid hormone have a markedly increased frequency of ADHD as compared with their unaffected family members. (1) It has also been shown that the prevalence of thyroid abnormalities is higher in children with ADHD than in the normal population. (2)
Because the brain uses so much energy, individuals with the slow metabolism and low energy that accompanies hypothyroidism tend to experience a decline in their mental sharpness. It becomes difficult to maintain focus, sharp memory and clarity. Low thyroid function is a common cause of brain fog, depression (3), difficulty concentrating and short term memory loss.
Hypothyroidism is often associated with mood disturbances and cognitive impairment, implying that thyroid hormones are critical for normal brain functioning. In particular, hypothyroidism has been associated with several cognitive deficits, including general intelligence, psychomotor speed, visual-spatial skills and memory.(4)
ADHD Medication Side Effects
ADHD is traditionally treated with stimulant prescription drugs, and sometimes a non-stimulant drug. Both types have similar side effects. Some examples of ADHD medications are Adderal, Concerta, Focalin Vyvanse, Quillivant, Ritalin, and Strattera.
General side effects include:
Loss of appetite
Changes in blood pressure and pulse
More Dangerous Side Effects
Between 2005 and 2010, the number of emergency room visits involving ADHD
stimulant medications increased from 13,379 to 31,244 visits (5)
Permanent brain damage (6)
Heart and blood vessel damage
Heart attack, stroke, and sudden death
Changes in personality
Increased cancer risk
Depression and suicide
Increased cancer risk
Natural Approach to Treating ADHD
If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, find out what the underlying cause is first. If you have other symptoms of hypothyroidism, then that is a good indicator that hypothyroidism could be the cause of your ADHD.
Diet also plays an important role in brain function. If you are eating lots of fast foods, sugar and simple carbs, then changing your eating habits to include organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as avocados, and omega 3s that are found in fish oil will benefit your brain.
Don’t wait – take our symptom checker quiz today to find out if you could have hypothyroidism.
1. Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder in People with Generalized Resistance to Thyroid Hormone
2. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Thyroid Function
3. The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression
4. Verbal Memory Retrieval Deficits Associated With Untreated Hypothyroidism
5. Emergency Department Visits Involving Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Stimulant Medications
6. Age-Dependent Effects of Methylphenidate on the Human Dopaminergic System in Young vs Adult Patients With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder