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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Dopamine: What’s the Association Between Them?

adhd dopamine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 6.1 million children in the US were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016. ADHD symptoms might differ from person to person, but they frequently involve issues with focus, attention, and impulse control. Although the exact etiology of ADHD is unknown, experts think that genetics, particular environmental variables, and brain alterations may contribute to its onset. Additionally, the function of neurotransmitters like dopamine has been studied. In this blog, we go through the connection between dopamine and ADHD. We also discuss further consequences of low dopamine levels and available ADHD therapies.

About 2.5% of adults, according to the American Psychiatric Association, are thought to have ADHD. People who do have ADHD often have a harder time focusing than those who do not. Additionally, they could behave more hastily than their other classmates. They could find it challenging to perform effectively in their other pursuits, at work or at school, as a result.

Adhd Specialist

What is the association between ADHD and dopamine? Causes and factors

The cause of ADHD is probably a combination of multiple factors. As per the National Institute of Mental Health, risk factors for ADHD may include the following:

  • ADHD family history and genetics
  • Birth defect or preterm birth
  • Using alcohol, smoking, or doing drugs while pregnant, being exposed to pollutants like lead while pregnant, or having brain damage as a young kid

Researchers have been examining the link between dopamine and ADHD and how dopamine contributes to the development of ADHD. A particular kind of neurotransmitter called dopamine serves a number of crucial roles in the body and brain. Dopamine levels are linked to a number of mental and neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.

A person’s mood, attentiveness, motivation, and activity may all be influenced by dopamine levels. Dopamine governs the brain’s reward system as well, with brain dopamine levels rising during enjoyable activities like eating or having intercourse. Initially, experts thought that low levels of dopamine were the cause of ADHD, but they have now recognized that the connection is a little more complex.

Dopamine transporters may be more prevalent in the brains of people with ADHD. These transporters deplete brain cells of dopamine. Dopamine has less time to act when there are multiple transporters in one region of the brain because they move too rapidly. Serotonin and norepinephrine levels that are lower may also have a role in ADHD development alongside dopamine.

Scientific reasoning of the link between ADHD and dopamine:

Scientists have researched the relationship between dopamine transporters and the symptoms of ADHD. However, additional evidence points to the possibility that anatomical changes in the brain may potentially contribute to ADHD. Experts say that the motor cortex is the area of the brain that regulates voluntary movement and where there is a gene that typically increases the function of dopamine transporters, which is inhibited by medications that increase the amount of dopamine in the brain.

The fundamental cause of ADHD is probably a problem with the brain. Although the specific origin of ADHD is unknown, several researchers have investigated the role that the neurotransmitter dopamine may possess in a potential contribution to ADHD. Dopamine enables us to control our emotional reactions and take some action to obtain particular rewards. Pleasure and rewarding emotions are caused by it.

Scientists have shown that dopamine levels in patients with ADHD differ from those in those without the disorder. According to the experts, this difference is caused by increased levels of dopamine transporter-containing proteins in the neurons of patients with untreated ADHD. These findings imply that dopamine transporter-related genetic variables may contribute to the development of ADHD.

How to treat ADHD: pharmacological approach to increase dopamine

Numerous ADHD drugs act by boosting dopamine and promoting concentration. Typically, these drugs are stimulants. They consist of amphetamines that raise dopamine levels in the brain by inhibiting dopamine transporters and boosting dopamine levels.

Some people think that taking these drugs in large doses would help them concentrate and pay attention better. That is untrue. It may be challenging to concentrate if your dopamine levels are excessively high.

What are other reasons for developing ADHD?

It is unclear to scientists what causes ADHD, categorically. In a broader sense, just two probable causes are dopamine and its transporters. According to the research, ADHD seems to run in families more frequently. This is addressed in part by the fact that several genes may increase the risk of having ADHD.

There are a number of behavioral and lifestyle issues that can potentially affect ADHD. They consist of:

  • A low birth weight,
  • problems during labor.
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals like lead during pregnancy, infancy, and childbirth are all factors.
See Also: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Gastrointestinal Issues

Bottom line:

It’s promising that dopamine and ADHD are related. Increasing the action of dopamine in the body is how a number of efficient drugs used to relieve the symptoms of ADHD function. However, researchers are still looking into this connection. Dopamine is not the sole underlying reason for ADHD, though. Experts are looking into the latest theories and evidence, such as the quantity of grey matter in the brain. Consult a doctor if you think you have ADHD. They can properly diagnose you and put you on a treatment strategy that can involve drugs and other techniques that boost dopamine to manage ADHD.

In order to raise your dopamine levels, you can also try the following different techniques:

  • Prepare a list of quick activities, and then finish them.
  • Always try to do something new.
  • Play the music you like.
  • Regular exercise
  • Try yoga or meditation.

Neurodevelopmental Disorder ADHD can lead to issues with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. According to research, structural reforms in the brain and neurotransmitter imbalances like those involving dopamine may contribute to the emergence of this illness. Other neurological and mental health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, drug abuse, depression, and schizophrenia, all appear to be influenced by dopamine levels.

Family Medicine Austin

Written by Jeannette

I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.