Recent research has found a link between Parkinson’s disease and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those with ADHD are reportedly at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s and similar neurological movement disorders, with symptoms including uncontrollable tremors and voice changes. Disease symptoms typically don’t manifest until a person is 60 years old or older. If you or a loved one has ADHD or Parkinson’s, the guide below explains what you should know about this research and its implications for disease management and treatment.
What to Know About Parkinson’s Disease & ADHD
How Dopamine Impacts Both Conditions
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that generally starts in childhood and is characterized by hyperactivity and issues with concentration. The condition changes the way the brain releases dopamine, a chemical influencing behavior and learning as well as movement. Like Parkinson’s, ADHD has no known cure, but it is treatable with drugs that block dopamine transporter proteins and subsequently control hyperactive impulses.
Adults with the hyperactivity disorder have damaged dopamine neurons in the basal ganglia. This part of the brain regulates the spinal cord and cerebellum functions responsible for motor control, posture, eye and head movement, and emotions. Basal ganglia and cerebellum issues are also found in those with Parkinson’s disease. Dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra section in the brain break down in Parkinson’s patients; in most cases, up to 50% of the neurons are gone by the time an individual gets diagnosed.
How Amphetamines Impact Dopamine
Amphetamine-based medications like benzedrine and dexedrine are often used to treat ADHD. Research has noted the link between amphetamines with Parkinson’s. Those who abuse methamphetamines are also thought to be at higher risk for Parkinson’s, as these drugs may injure the axon terminals of dopaminergic neurons, interfering with the transmission of dopamine.
Why More Research Is Needed
Although current scientific literature suggests that those with ADHD are believed to be more susceptible to the disease, more research is needed to provide conclusive answers. Medication is still recommended to treat children with severe cases of ADHD, and their likelihood of developing Parkinson’s is low. If you or a loved one has ADHD, Parkinson’s, or a family history of either condition, talk to your healthcare provider.
For the latest news and information about Parkinson’s research, turn to Connecticut Advocates for Parkinson’s in Hartford County. The 501(c)(3) registered charity helps those with this condition as well as their friends and family through a variety of programs, including group support, educational seminars, and clinical trial transportation. Call (860) 266-6040 today to learn about volunteer opportunities or view the event calendar online. Get more wellness tips on Twitter.