Many people consider Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) a childhood problem. But more and more adults suffer from it. What's more, adults are suffering from epilepsy at a higher rate as well. Is there a connection? Believe it or not, a recent study is showing a remarkable connection between the two. And this simple observation might point to a cure for both conditions.
The symptoms of ADD are fairly easy to spot. People with this problem find it very difficult to be organized and to prioritize what they need to do. They are easily distracted and have a hard time focusing or concentrating. Because of this they are usually poor listeners and have a difficult time in school. You can tell them something, they will hear it, and then almost immediately forget it. All this can lead to anxiety, depression, difficulty making decisions, and a lack of motivation. But what's this got to do with epilepsy?
Just this past month, researchers looked at 1,361 adults with epilepsy. They gave all of them a test asking about symptoms of ADD. Remarkably, 18.4% came up positive for the disorder. It's remarkable because in the general population ADD in adults occurs at a much lower rate of about 3-5%. In the study, those who were diagnosed with ADD typically had more seizures and were on more anti-seizure medications than those without ADD. So what's the connection? It might be a brain chemical called dopamine.
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Another recent article that reviewed epilepsy pointed out that, "Dopamine has long been postulated to be involved in the cause of epilepsy." The review goes on to say that epileptic seizures are caused in certain people by a fall in dopamine levels. It also goes on to suggest that any treatment that can prevent these falls and maintain high dopamine levels might be the answer for patients with epilepsy. And why is this so interesting?
It's because ADD is a disorder that stems from a deficiency of dopamine. So it makes complete sense that people who suffer from epilepsy should have a much higher rate of ADD. And it also explains why epileptic patients who also have ADD would have more seizures and require more medication. Additionally, it points us to what may be the treatment of choice for patients with both of these conditions. And guess what? That treatment is not a patented drug. It's a natural treatment that consists of giving the patient the right amount of the amino acids tyrosine, 5-HTP, and L-dopa.
You have probably heard me discuss these aminos many times before. I find that when you get the balance just right, these aminos are effective for almost every case of ADD, depression, insomnia, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety. They are even effective for more difficult nerve-related disorders, such as Parkinson's. Doctors and patients alike can learn more about this therapy by watching the Brain Chemistry video on my clinic website (www.antiagingmedicine.com) and by reading the material at www.neurosciencemyths.com.
So if you or a loved one has epilepsy along with some of the symptoms of ADD, find a doctor who is versed in the use of amino acids. By getting the right balance of amino acids for that patient, you can increase your dopamine levels. And according to this new study, as the ADD symptoms go away, there is a good likelihood that the epilepsy will improve.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Ettinger AB, Ottman R, Lipton RB, et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in adults with self-reported epilepsy: Results from a national epidemiologic survey of epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2015 Jan 15.
Chen SC. Epilepsy and migraine: The dopamine hypotheses. Med Hypotheses. 2006;66(3):466-72.