A medication that is usually used to treat narcolepsy and excessive sleepiness during daytime also seems to reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or reduce ADHD. This conclusion endorses the theory that ADHD may be a sleep disorder.
People with ADHD diagnosis have difficulty concentrating and are usually hyperactive. But many people with this disorder are also struggling to fall asleep, staying awake at night, resulting in a tired feeling throughout the day.
Can we conclude that ADHD is a type of sleep disorder? Eventually, brain activity in attention is also associated with sleep. In addition, there are indications that similar disturbed patterns of chemical signals in the brain occur in people with sleep disorders and ADHD.
One possibility is that the biological rhythm of our sleep-waking cycle over a 24-hour period may be out of balance in people with ADHD, which means that they are sleepy or just alert at the wrong times.
This hypothesis gave Eric Konofal the Robert-Debré Hospital in Paris the idea of using a drug for narcolepsy and excessive sleepiness during the day to treat ADHD.
Mazindol studies the effects of a chemical component called orexin or hypocretin in the brain, which regulates vigilance and appetite. It functions as a stimulant to keep us awake, people with narcolepsy who can fall asleep at the wrong times have a shortage here.
In clinical trials , Konofal and his colleagues gave mazindol or a placebo to 85 adults between the ages of 18 and 65, and ever ADHD was detected in everybody. Within two weeks, ADHD symptoms were reduced by more than 50 percent in just over half of the people who swallowed the medicine.
These results are better than in the studies based on conventional ADHD drugs such as Ritalin. The effects of these drugs will be directly compared with mazindol in future tests to determine if it produces really better results.
Mazindol is the first new ADHD drug in the last decades to work in a different way. Because mazindol is active in another neurochemical pathway, it can benefit individuals whose existing treatments do not have the desired effect.
The medicine also appears to be safe, although some participants in the trial suffer from some minor side effects such as constipation and nausea. These symptoms are probably due to the effect on appetite – mazindol was previously used as a medication for weight loss because it reduces hunger sensations.
Although mazindol had a beneficial effect on many symptoms of ADHD, the quality of sleep in the volunteers did not improve, and the sleepy feeling during the day was not reduced.The team is now preparing a larger scale trial, and performing other experiments to gain insight into the efficacy of the drug.