How Perimenopause Affects Women with ADHD and Ideas to Help

How Perimenopause Affects Women with ADHD and Ideas to Help
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Did you know that hormonal changes can exacerbate ADD symptoms throughout a women’s life? The ups and downs of the severity of symptoms start during puberty and continue until menopause. Some women find their thinking is fuzzier and they get overwhelmed more easily when they are in the week or two before their period.

Others feel more triggered emotionally, restless, or hyper during this time if that is how their ADHD tends to manifest. Estrogen levels rise during the two weeks after the first day of your period. Many women find that they are at their best during this two-week phase of their cycle. They think more clearly and just feel better in general.

This could be because estrogen promotes the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which have been called the “feel good neurotransmitters.” During the third and fourth week of the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels drop. This can lead to a worsening of ADHD symptoms along with symptoms of PMS. Fun!

As women get older and approach perimenopause, estrogen levels begin to drop, fluctuate more, and other hormonal changes take place. As well as experiencing physical symptoms of perimenopause such as hot flashes and insomnia, you may find the executive functioning challenges of ADHD intensify. You may feel more overwhelmed and scattered.

Some women even worry they are developing dementia! This period of time before menopause can last for years but don’t despair. There are things you can do to help yourself and improve the quality of your days:

  • Talk to your medical team (your psychiatrist, naturopath, gynecologist, and everyone relevant) about what’s going on. After ruling out anything else that could be causing an increase in your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe another medication or treatment that would work better for you at this point in your life. Options can range from hormone therapy to anti-depressants to a different class of ADHD medicine. If you are on stimulant medication, your doctor may suggest adjusting your dose according to your monthly cycle.
  • Connect with other women who understand and can relate to your challenges. There are online forums you can join, such as in ADDitude Magazine.
  • Keep a daily journal of your monthly cycle and your ADHD symptoms. How are you affected cognitively and emotionally and when during the month? Although this is a time of changing cycles, you may still be able to see a pattern. If you know you are especially forgetful and depressed during the third week of your cycle, can you plan your work and home life around it? This is the time to say “No” if one more thing will put you over the edge and take good care of yourself.
  • Allow yourself to get support if you are more overwhelmed these days. Even non-ADD women feel more depression, anxiety, and mood swings during perimenopause and experience problems with word retrieval and memory. You are not alone!

Please contact me for a free consultation if you’d like to talk about coaching and learn how I can help.

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