By Michael A. Smith, MDAttention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common type of behavioral disorder, affecting approximately 3–10% of children and adolescents aged 18 and younger.1-3 Although prevalence usually declines with age, up to 65% of hyperactive children are still symptomatic as adults.
ADHD is a complex psychiatric disorder characterized by a limited attention span, impulsivity, and over-activity. There are actually three disease categories for ADHD:
- Predominantly inattentive.
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive.
- Equally expressed or combined.
Medical Treatment Uses Dangerous StimulantsMany questions remain regarding the best treatment practices for ADHD. Treatment usually includes parental education, appropriate school placement, and last but not least, drugs.
The class of drug used to treat ADHD is psychostimulants; however, antidepressants and alpha-receptor antagonists are also used. Regardless of the drug, side effects are a real concern for parents and adults who are taking these medications.
For example, here’s a list of reported common side effects associated with Ritalin® courtesy of Drugs.com6:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Trouble sleeping
There are other options for treating ADHD though. Below we’ll take a look at one of those options.
Optimize DHEA & Pregnenolone Blood Levels to Manage ADHDSteroid hormones play a significant role in several cognitive disorders like ADHD. Two hormones in particular are DHEA and pregnenolone. Researchers have actually found that these two hormones are chronically low in children and young adults with ADHD especially when it comes to hyperactivity.7
Results of a study conducted on 29 young men suffering from ADHD found significant associations between clinical symptoms and low hormone blood levels. However, the differences were more prominent in the less severe cases of ADHD.7
In particular, DHEA blood levels correlate well to hyperactivity. The authors found that the lower the blood level of DHEA, the more hyperactive the symptoms. The good news here is that both pregnenolone and DHEA are available over-the-counter at reasonable prices.
ADHD: Low Hormones Could be the ProblemIt makes sense that hormones like DHEA and pregnenolone are associated with ADHD. Hormones, in general, are the body’s messengers, and when they aren’t around, many systems suffer. Based on this premise, here are a few suggestions:
- If you have ADHD, get a hormone blood test that includes DHEA and pregnenolone.
- Speak with your doctor about appropriate reference ranges for both hormones.
- If your blood levels are low, start replacing each hormone with a daily supplement.
- Complete follow-up testing of all of your hormones and make adjustments to dosing as necessary with the help of your doctor).
Have you or a loved one struggled with ADHD? If so, what — if anything — has helped?
- JAMA. 1998 Apr 8;279(14):1100-7.
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Jun;38(6):716-22.
- Med Ref Serv Q. 2001 Fall;20(3):31-44.
- J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1998 Jan;39(1):65-99.
- Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995 Jun;52(6):464-70.
- Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2001 Sep;4(3):259-64.
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