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Cannabis Strains for ADHD 

ADHD And Cannabis

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, can have a variety of symptoms.  For some people, it can make attention and focus more difficult, particularly if they are required to do something that they don’t find interesting or engaging. But some cannabis strains for ADHD may help.

For other people, ADHD can present with symptoms of hyperfocus.  Instead of not recognizing or remembering certain things, the individual can be hypervigilant in terms of surveying their environment.  They may experience the sensory input around them at a higher level than other people.  Noticing everyone, everything, what they are doing, sounds, sights, smells, and tastes.  All at the same time.

An individual living with ADHD may have disruptive symptoms that cause behaviors that may not always be understood—or socially accepted.  Naturally, there are prescription medications that can help numb the sensory overload they experience.  But some people with ADHD find the side effects of prescription drugs are worse than the actual symptoms. 

Doctor-supervised cannabis presents a new option for people diagnosed with ADHD.  Some states do allow clinical anxiety disorders as a qualifying health condition for a medical card.  But can it work for some of the common symptoms of ADHD?

In this article, we’ll look at common symptoms that patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder experience.  And how a doctor-supervised cannabis treatment plan may provide relief. 

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

There is no test specifically for ADHD, although some physicians may administer anxiety scales such as the “Beck Depression Inventory.”  There are surveys or questionnaires that can help identify the symptoms and severity of ADHD for patients.  

Some of the most common tests or assessments to determine ADHD for a child or adult are:

  • Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC)
  • Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)
  • Conners Rating Scales
  • Vanderbilt Assessment Scale 
  • Adult ADHD Clinical Diagnostic Scale (ACDS)
  • Brown Attention-Deficit Disorder Symptom Assessment Scale (BADDS)

The general rule is an individual continuously experiences six (6) or more symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness for at least six months. And behavioral symptoms can start to show up before the age of twelve (12) years.  

Often, ADHD is not detected until early adulthood or when it is clear that symptoms are creating disruptions like poor performance (work or school), mania (high energy), or social problems. And when patients can articulate their symptoms and how they feel. 

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What Are the Common Symptoms of ADHD?

You may have heard of labels like “high-functioning ADHD” or “severe ADHD” that point to the fact that symptoms can be different for everyone.  Someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may have mild anxiety symptoms, which they learn to manage well. At the same time, other people with severe symptoms benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications.

Regardless of where someone falls on the scale of severity of ADHD, here are some of the most common symptoms:

Overthinking

We’re all capable of overthinking something. Mainly when it is a situation that makes us feel unsettled, worried, or uncomfortable; some people with ADHD experience overthinking to the degree that it causes them significant distress.

What is interesting is that overthinking can also be about positive experiences. If you plan a trip the next day, you may begin to list all the things that could happen. Anxiety sets in as you contemplate every possible scenario.  When in actuality, none of the things you are imagining have transpired yet.

Overthinking is the way that patients with ADHD try to insulate themselves from surprises. If they can imagine every possible outcome and have a contingency plan, then they will feel more secure.  And in that respect, overthinking can be a good psychological tool for self-preservation.

The problem is when extreme overthinking talks you out of doing something enjoyable. Or something you need to do because it is causing anxiety. It is not uncommon for someone with ADHD to unexpectedly cancel plans (even if it is something they enjoy).  Because they have overthought what “could go wrong” and determined it would be easier to avoid the situation altogether. 

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Difficulty with Mood Regulation 

There is no middle ground for people who have ADHD, as they feel intense emotions. But they experience a scale of emotional affect that can change weekly, daily, or even hourly.  While someone with bipolar affective disorder may experience similar mood fluctuations, they do not change (typically) as quickly as they do for someone with ADHD.

Mood swings can range from feeling uncomfortably excited, energetic, and social (i.e., let’s go out!) to fatigue and withdrawal from social contact. And if someone with ADHD is feeling low, there is little chance of helping them lift their mood.  They simply want to be alone.  

Researchers know that depression and ADHD go hand in hand for many patients.  But it is a chicken and egg scenario; which came first?  However, the symptoms that many people with ADHD struggle with impact relationships, work, finances (impulsivity), learning, and more.  And sometimes, the fallout from those difficulties can be depressing.

According to recent studies, people with ADHD can be 2.7 times more prone to depression than the general adult population. And up to 30% of people with ADHD will experience a depressive episode or have cyclical mood disorders throughout their lifetime.

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Variances in Energy Levels 

Most people will tackle a short list of things they want to be done daily.  Have you ever seen the list of someone who has ADHD? Over-ambitious is one way to describe it.  Some people with ADHD will tackle many things in a short time rather than dividing up their workload.

People who have ADHD can experience severe energy spikes. And when that happens, they want to do “all the things” immediately.  So instead of doing their laundry? They are doing their laundry, organizing their closet, and cleaning the whole house, often to exhaustion.  

The individual may need to learn why they need to get everything done right away, but they capitalize on the energy burst but feel tired (and often irritable as a result) after completing their tasks.  Relaxing and “taking it easy” isn’t easy when your brain tells you to Go! Go! Go!

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Excessive Talking and Conversational Interruption 

We are all taught that polite conversation means waiting your turn to speak. Generally, after someone else has finished their thought, it can be frustrating when someone persistently interrupts. Whether at work or in social situations. 

People who have ADHD can have an impulsive nature.  They don’t mean to be rude, but they are brimming with thoughts and ideas.  And when someone says something interesting or they have something to contribute, they may blurt it out without realizing that they are interrupting. 

If you are in a conversation with someone who talks (and talks, and talks) without pausing to let you interject? You may be talking to someone who has ADHD.  And it can be hard to find a break or pause in the conversation when someone with ADHD is excited about what they are talking about.

Fidgeting and Being Unable to Sit Still

If you know someone who has ADHD, one of the first things you may notice is that they have trouble sitting still.  While energy levels or hyperactivity states can vary in frequency and duration, chances are your friend or a family member has a high activity level. 

Even when forced to sit still at school or work, you may find someone with ADHD engaged in other activities or tics. They may fidget with an object, doodle, or look like they are thinking about random creative things or situations from the past, which can cause anxiety.

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How Can Medical Cannabis Help Someone With ADHD?

Many states have added clinical anxiety to the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis.  And that is for a good reason.  Some people find that medical cannabis works well to moderate ADHD symptoms.

There are more than 700 different strains of cannabis.  And some can have a strong sedative effect (useful for lowering the volume of rumination or head chatter so that people can get to sleep).  Other strains can provide an energy and mood boost, which can help when a patient is experiencing depressive symptoms. 

What cannabis strains are most popular with patients who experience both anxiety and low mood or depression?  They are commonly divided into two broad categories; daytime and nighttime use.  And certain terpenes are also believed to have strong anxiety-fighting properties.

Strains of Cannabis That Can Provide Relief from Anxiety

When someone with ADHD has a spike in energy, it is not always a pleasant thing. While it is likely that they will get a lot done, it can also be exhausting.  Because the compulsion to keep moving and active can be unrelenting when you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Understandably, some patients would want to “take it down a notch” or three and settle into a more average energy state.  But during the daytime, you don’t want to feel sedated to the extent that you feel groggy or tired when you really want to stay calm but focused.

Here are some popular Sativa or Sativa dominant strains that may help:

  • Strawberry Cough
  • Super Lemon Haze
  • Harlequin GDP
  • Sour Breath
  • Red Congolese
  • Lucid Blue

Be aware that some types of Sativa cannabis can actually increase energy and creative ideas.  Basically, they can add fuel to the fire if you are looking for relief from overthinking, racing thoughts, and other similar symptoms.  And you want less noise, not more in most cases, so you have to be careful about the Sativa strain you choose.

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Ask your budtender for recommendations to suit your needs. And also for advice about lower-THC strains, you may want to start with first. Also evaluate strains with terpenes that are believed to help with anxiety-impaired focus, including pinene, eucalyptol, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene.

Indica Cannabis Strains for ADHD

When you are in for the evening and not going anywhere, you have the option of trying cannabis strains that are a little more sedating. Typically, these are Indica dominant strains.  But the impact of Indica cannabis is quite different from a Sativa dominant strain.

If you have a list of things you want to do at home during the evening, Indica is definitely not the type of cannabis you want to take. But if you are sitting on your couch and watching a movie with your dog (without the feelings of head noise and anxiety), Indica cannabis may help.

Some of the most popular strains of Indica for anxiety (and nighttime use) include:

  • Sour Diesel
  • Harle-Tsu
  • Harlequin
  • Black Jack
  • Fire Alien Strawberry
  • Star Master Kush

When you are researching new strains, remember to take a look at hybrids or crosses between Indica and Sativa cannabis because you may be able to find one local hybrid strain that works well to moderate all of your symptoms.

If you are not experienced or familiar with using Indica strains, pay close attention to the THC content.  Indica “hits differently” than a Sativa strain, and first-time users are often surprised by how sedating it can be if they have never used an Indica strain before. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) May Also Help Patients With ADHD

What do patients do when they are struggling with the symptoms of ADHD but have to go to work every day?  Taking either an Indica or a Sativa can make you impaired.  This means driving (and working) are out of the question and unsafe.

That is why many people with ADHD choose a clinical-grade full-spectrum CBD. Don’t opt for the least expensive cannabidiol products available; chances are you will not get the maximum benefit from cannabinoids and terpenes with a diluted and inexpensive product. 

Based on feedback from our patients over the past seven years, DocMJ formulated our cannabidiol (CBD) products.  Each product comes with a certificate of analysis (COA) by a third-party laboratory.  And DocCBD products have also been formulated to maximize bioavailability or absorption into your body.

Some clinical studies suggest that quality cannabidiol can help reduce symptoms of anxiety.  And as CBD does not cause impairment, making them safe to use during the work day and while traveling.