ADHD Symptoms

ADHD and Alzheimer’s: Are These Diseases Related?

Can attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cause Alzheimer’s or dementia? Are the symptoms I’m experiencing a result of Alzheimer’s or is it ADHD?

Can attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cause Alzheimer’s or dementia?

No, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cannot cause Alzheimer’s or dementia. With ADHD, we’re dealing with a problem that has to do with the chemical dynamics of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for movement and mood regulation, and norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter associated with “fight or flight” (your ability to respond to stress), release at the brain’s synapses. With Alzheimer’s, the brain’s wiring is destroyed by a thick glop that accumulates on the neurons.

Are the symptoms I’m experiencing a result of Alzheimer’s or is it ADHD?

I see women — successful and smart — come into my office and say, “I’m afraid I have Alzheimer’s, and it scares the crap out of me. I have trouble coming up with words that used to come easily. I can’t concentrate as well as I did.” I do the evaluation, and they have ADHD syndrome, but they don’t have a history of these difficulties before menopause. It makes sense, though, because estrogen is one of the primary modulators for the release of dopamine in the brain. As the estrogen level drops, as it does in menopause, the result — for some women — looks an awful lot like ADHD.

2 comments

  1. Everything I’ve read thus far is a mirror image of me!! I am already diagnosed and take VYVANSE BUT I STILL STRUGGLE DAILY! It is starting to wear on my self esteem. Any suggestions??

    1. Hi Holly, I was diagnosed last summer as a 48 year old female with ADHD. I take vyvanse too but it is only half the battle. The other half is executive dysfunction. There are 12 executive functions and I have varying degrees of dysfunction with 7, Time Mgmt being the worst. I see an ADD coach twice monthly to work on cognitive behavioral therapies (practical tactics for workarounds). It has been life changing for me. Medication is only half the battle. Doing only CBTs or only medication is only 30% effective according to the latest research. ADD Coaches are now very prevalent and should be easy to find. Check out this site: http://www.cerebralmatters.com/podcast/ amd also google and read about executive dysfunction and ADHD.

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