Medical Scientist Find Link between ADHD and Thyroid Conditions

by | Jan 23, 2012

In Science Daily of March 12, 1997, a press release states medical researchers found a positive link between patients with ADHD and specific Thyroid levels. At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Peter Hauser, Psychiatrist, warns “The correlation between thyroid hormone concentrations and symptoms of hyperactivity does not prove causality. What it does show is that thyroid hormones may provide a physiologic basis for the dichotomy between symptoms of inattention and symptoms of hyperactivity.”

ADHD is the most common mental health problem found in school age children. And while psychiatry freely admits that they do not know what causes ADHD or its symptoms, they justify the labeling of children and medicating them as having an incurable brain disease.
The CDC reports that by 2007, there were 5.4 million children 4-17 years of age diagnosed with ADHD, an increase of 22% from 2003 to 2007. As of 2007, parents of 2.7 million youth ages 4-17 years (66.3% of those with a current diagnosis) report that their child was receiving medication treatment for the disorder. Rates of medication treatment for ADHD varied by age and sex; children aged 11-17 years of age were more likely than those 4-10 years of age to take medication, and boys are 2.8 times more likely to take medication than girls. Children with Medicaid were more likely than uninsured children or privately insured children to have each of the diagnoses.
The medication of choice for this disorder is an amphetamine based drug given several different brand names such as Ritalin, Adderall, Focalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, Metadate and Vyvanse. Each of these has a stern warning on the packet insert to not be given to anyone who has a thyroid condition. Considering the findings in 1997 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, how many children are being harmed by being placed on this stimulant without a thorough testing for thyroid disease? What typically happens with a person who doesn’t seem to respond to the medication at the usual dose, they will have their dosage increased and be thought of as “resistant” to the medication. In the case of hyperthyroidism, the symptoms mimic hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, and the result of an amphetamine with this thyroid condition is increase behavior problems. This results in children being given more medications to handle that behavior, or more psychotropics, in that they are typically are started on anti-psychotics to manage the aggressive behavior.
In an article written on September 17, 2010 by Helen Beden, HealthDay News reporter, findings were suggesting that MDs were jumping to antipsychotic meds for this same thing too soon, and that managing just the amphetamine based drugs could cause the aggressive behaviors to diminish or stop. This allows that children were unduly being put on a strong antipsychotic when it was unnecessary and still being a problem of medication adjustment today. Why is this still going on?
The problem with treating a disorder with no biologic origin as yet to be found with a stimulant that psychiatry freely admits in the APA’s Textbook of Psychiatry “do not produce lasting improvements in aggressivity, conduct disorder, criminality, educational achievement, job functioning, marital relationships, or long-term adjustments.” Furthermore, the NIMH publication concluded “the long-term efficacy of stimulant medications has not been demonstrated in any domain of child functions”. So why are they still given in such large quantities despite the evidence they don’t work? It’s because the stimulant “numbs” the child for the short-term, their neurologic systems overwhelmed by the powerful drug, and it seems to those looking at them that it worked and calmed them from their hyperactivity. It’s only later when they’ve been on this devastating drug for years that we find they have had to be placed on several drugs to combat their “resistance” to the amphetamine, and soon demonstrate depression, suicide, and dependency on drugs for living.


  1. jim bryant

    These are just vague statements that are unable to claim specifically if adderall itself can cause the disorder. Instead its a bunch of words that uneducated people may blindly believe because its from a ” medical ‘ article. Remember, introductory statements should be followed by supporting data. where’s the supporting data on what adderall specifically affects in regards to the thyroid ?

  2. example606290

    I know its not an unbaised source, but if you read the monograph of Vyvanse, they cite at least one large, double blind study, which claims to have established the efficacy of the drug for ADHD. I know for myself, I have ADHD, and the drugs have changed my life. Its not perfect, I still have low energy, and I wonder if something might be wrong with my thyroid, something is off, but before treatment I was such a mess. Now I’m finishing a chemistry degree, and am able to manage most areas of my life, without hitting a “brick wall” before I give an issue the attention it merits. I even did my ARCT in piano on stimulants, where before taking them, I couldn’t concentrate well enough to play anything above a grade nine level. If this is all in my head, its one heck of a placebo effect.

    • Ryan

      I was diagnosed with ADHD by 6, 19, and 31. Initial diagnosis and due to insurance verbal evaluation and 3rd one was computer based. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my early 20’s after years of complaints about a lot of the same symptoms. So grateful for that nurse practitioner. Both have genetic and environmental variables. First thing to look at is family history but if you do have blood work I would ask for full thyroid panel whereas they test TSH T3 and T4. Just like PTSD and anxiety; ADHD presents similarly to some symptoms due to thyroid function and unfortunately when thyroid levels are off increases symptoms of ADHD, lol. Regarding medication, if your thyroid is not functioning properly it will impact how your body processes the medication and how effective it may be. High TSH (Hypo) would make it process to slow and Low TSH (Hyper) would make it act to quickly. How stimulants impact the brain is very different in ADHD vs non ADHD brains. ADHD is also the only diagnosis in the DSM 5 that has been scientifically proven to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Discover your ADHD super power!

  3. Kyle

    Please check your facts. There is no stern warning on the PI of Vyvance “for anyone with a thyroid condition”.

    • doig

      If you have untreated hyperthyroidism and it presents like ADHD; a stimulant can be very dangerous. So yes- caution is very important. Get it, hyper- active/hyper-thyroids.

      “Who should not take Vyvanse?
      Vyvanse should not be taken if you or your child:
      • have heart disease or hardening of the arteries
      • have moderate to severe high blood pressure
      • have hyperthyroidism
      • have an eye problem called glaucoma
      • are very anxious, tense, or agitated
      • have a history of drug abuse
      • are taking or have taken within the past 14 days an antidepression medicine called a monoamine oxidase
      inhibitor or MAOI.
      • is sensitive to, allergic to, or had a reaction to other
      stimulant medicines
      Vyvanse has not been studied in children less than 6 years old.
      Vyvanse is not recommended for use in children less than 3
      years old.
      Vyvanse may not be right for you or your child. Before
      starting Vyvanse tell your or your child’s doctor about all
      health conditions (or a family history of) including:
      • heart problems, heart defects, high blood pressure
      • mental problems including psychosis, mania, bipolar
      illness, or depression
      • tics or Tourette’s syndrome
      • liver or kidney problems
      • thyroid problems
      • seizures or have had an abnormal brain wave test (EEG)
      Tell your doctor if you or your child is pregnant, planning to
      become pregnant, or breastfeeding. “

  4. Melanie Mitchell

    I dont recall if you mentioned your age except for the comment about being middle aged, but the Adderall can become a significant constrictor of the blood vessels, which would cause a slow down in metabolism, and with less oxygenated blood going to your brain, an inability to think clearly, plus a likely increase in your blood pressure.
    Oddly enough, when I take More Adderall, my blood pressure becomes normal. This is to me counterintuitive. I have a sluggish thyroid, and hypothyroidism causes high blood pressure. It looks like, to me the adderall when taken in sufficient doses, actually helps stimulate my thyroid function, resulting in normal blood pressure, rather than the other way around! 😊

  5. shy_pie

    Most ADHD sufferers claim that that the stimulant medication helps them focus, and ensures their attention levels are more consistent. So what do you mean there is no evidence that they work?

  6. Gwen Bearden

    I thought adderall made you lose weight. Am I wrong?

  7. David G

    I’m a 60-year-old adult who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2005. The doctors called it “classical and clinical.” The “classical” part comes from my condition being straight down the middle textbook for an ADHD sufferer. The “clinical” part comes from the severity of my condition being acute – REALLY bad! One doctor, who has a beautiful gift for understatement, described it as “significant.” This diagnosis did not surprise anyone in my family as everyone has always known that there “…was just something about David.” My mother used to cry when I was a kid because she knew how hard I tried in school, how hard I tried to behave and get along with others and that I was a very good child. My teachers all labeled me as having disciplinary problems and being “incorrigible.” (Don’t you just love labels?) But that was at a time when the general public knew virtually nothing about ADHD.
    Upon diagnosis, I went through a period of time while the medical staff determined which med would be the most appropriate for me and we settled on Adderall. I have been on it for some 11 years now and have never displayed any of the signs typical of a dependency in the way that a non-ADHD sufferer might from Adderall. I have never needed more and more and more just to function. I have come to refer to Adderall has one of my very best friends.
    However, just within this past year, I have begun having problems that no one, including my doctors, had accurately predicted. I have struggled with my weight for years finally reaching a whopping 265 lbs in 2013. But this year, I have packed on another 100 lbs. (Oh Yeah, I’m at 360-365 now) in spite of counting calories, exercising regularly, keeping diet logs and keeping all of this completely transparent in front of a very loving and supportive family. I have been so worried about this that I have certainly had the necessary motivation to stick close to a healthy eating plan and to not cheat. But my PCP refuses to listen when I explain this. He fires back that I am lying to him and that it is a simple case of calories in and calories back out. I need to eat less and exercise more. However, the only way that I can even get through a day is to eat however many calories I need for that day. If I eat only 2000 calories, I can tell when that fuel is used up because I hit a wall and collapse. I know that this is not good.
    I have also begun to experience acute joint pain in virtually every joint in my body from my toes to my fingers, wrists, elbows… everywhere. You would think that, at my weight, it would be only feet, ankles knees and back but no – it’s everything. And finally, my short term memory has become non-existent. Given my age, no one was alarmed at first because it is quite common for middle-aged adults to gain weight, experience arthritis and suffer some memory fade. The difference here was that these new symptoms came on really fast and all together – rapid weight gain, severe arthritis and near Alzheimer’s dementia.
    Just two weeks ago, I completely weaned myself off of the Adderall. I didn’t consult my doctors but I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything and IF my suspicions were correct, it would be better to deal with the ADHD symptoms than any chemical dependency symptoms. Now, my joint pain is completely gone and I’ve actually lost a few pounds although nothing significant just yet. My Alzheimer’s symptoms have faded significantly. However, I have no energy whatsoever. Of course, I also have to tolerate the ADHD but I feel that this is a small price to pay if I am on the right track. I have a new PCP and the very first thing this doctor did was pull some blood to determine my thyroid levels. We will get the results back later this week.

    • Claudia

      David, it’s been a few years but I am wondering how you are doing off the ADHD medication and what your thyroid test results looked like? I am 26 years and have hyperthyroidism, was diagnosed at 14 years old. I am in the process of getting an actual diagnoses for ADHD and therefore doing research on the medications prescribed for ADHD when I ran into the warnings of Adderall for people with overactive thyroidism. I ran into your comment and was inrigued by your experience with Adderall.

  8. Klynn

    So what do you do when your thyroid meds make ADD challenges much worse, especially when your labs say you are very hypo without them?

    • David G

      If you read my comment, you will see that I have found myself in the exact situation that you describe. While this may not be the answer you seek, it may be time to realize that we simply cannot have it all. As we live our lives, we have to play the hand we were dealt.
      When I was first diagnosed with ADHD, I spent several months going to weekly group therapy sessions where we discussed, not just medical solutions, but coping mechanisms that needed to be incorporated into our daily routines. Naturally, this does NOT make ADHD go away. But it does help the sufferer to recognize that this is the ADHD that’s doing this and it’s time to run to one of those coping mechanisms for this or that. For me, my family is very helpful. They are always there to help me anticipate what situations will cause problems and then they help me become pro-active in heading off those situations. They help me with organization. We hire help to keep the house clean and organized. We work together as a team and I cannot tell you just how much this really helps and keeps us closer and closer as a family.
      Remember, that all this effort comes with its own rewards. Classic ADHD sufferers generally are some of the most caring, forgiving, understanding, listening people around. They are empathetic. They never hold grudges. They hurt when their friends are hurting. They are the first to visit a sick friend in the hospital and will stay the longest as a show of support. They are very unselfish – happily doing without something if it means someone else can benefit. They are approachable and will understand your problems. They don’t prejudge and don’t suffer from racism or any such radical ideologies. They don’t seek attention and NEVER suffer from narcissism. Typically, they are the sort of people that will run into a fire to save someone instead of running away from a fire to save themselves. They are very creative and artistic but humble. These are the rewards you will receive if you can tolerate the ADHD symptoms.

    • Kristen

      TY David G in regards to ur description of some of us ADHD folks. I completely agree as do some of my friends & family members do too. Well most hv described my personality as being jst like that.
      Im a 49yr female tht had been on generic Adderall for a couple yrs & kept the same exercise regiment & weight during tht time & then i was prescribed Vyvanse!!! All i can say is i gained 15+ pounds in a short amount of time but hvnt changed any routines & i am a runner w reasonable eating habits! It also made me feel fatigued & foggy & perhaps i was overprescribed. IDK
      My friend recommended to me an endocrinologist because she said her longtime Adderall Prescription has caused her Thyroid Problems for life. So we will see, but for now I’ve started the process of elimination & feel less tired already 1wk out! I do feel though the benefits of a stimulant helps me to listen & sleep better & also not to constantly scan the horizon for something to fix but i cant continue w some of the current side effects ?
      I wish u luck on ur journey & perhaps one day there will b an easier softer way!!!
      Kristen M?

  9. Mary Weiss

    I am hypothyroidism and was just recently diagnosed with ADD as well and was prescribed Quillivant XR 40mgs. From your article it states that anyone with a thyroid issue should not be on this type of drug and has me very concerned and I would like to know why is this the case?
    My daughter is ADHD and I have never had her thyroid checked but I will be now because she has been on stimulants since kindergarten and is now a teenager.
    I do not want her on these man made medications but not sure as what to do for her right now.
    Thanks for this article it was very informative.

    • Kevin

      Caffeine works like the unnatural emphetamines (asks pharmacist). Just make sure it’s taken with good amounts of sugar and fats. Caffeine without fat/sugar will speed up metabolism and without the food/energy to support it, the body will increase adrenaline and cortisol to catabolize the body for the needed glucose. The same thing happens with emphetamines taken without proper fat/sugar. Magnesium is critical in the processing of the thyroid hormones – coffee is a great source of caffeine, magnesium, sugar and milk fat ;-). That’s the way my ADHD teen likes her coffee! Anecdotally, Catholic nuns used to give the hyper boys coffee to settle them down – what did they know?

  10. Hypothyroidism

    I always spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s articles every day along with a cup of coffee.

    • admin

      Thank you so much for your comment! It’s great that you read our site. We want as many readers as possible so that the public is fully informed of their rights.

    • Na

      How long will it be before the medical industry stops insulting your intelligence and admits that immunizations more specifically pertussis causes many brain defects one of them being a DD or ADHD I told the doctors not to use the live pertussis on my son or give him pertussis. After they accidentally gave him that shot he had grand mal seizures and was never the same I should have sued the medical industry continues to tell us or sick through media and gets weak people to believe that they have a medical condition for multiple reasons just so the medical industry can make a profit far as I’m concerned it’s a slow process to killing someone you should all be held accountable but we all know politics and money talk people don’t


  1. Wednesday Weekly Roundup - Thyroid News - Feb.26, 2014 - Thyroid Mom - [...] Medical Scientist Find Link between ADHD and Thyroid Conditions [...]

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