Menu

Blog

Hormonal Changes Affect Women’s ADHD Symptoms

For women living with ADHD it is an ongoing challenge, not only through the monthly hormonal changes, but through the various life stages as well. With fluctuating hormone levels, ADHD symptoms can be exacerbated, mood swings or depression can occur, or the effect ADHD medication normally has can become ineffective.

Hormonal Changes a Life-Long ADHD Challenge

Finding the right knowledgeable psychiatrist is a choice that can impact you for a life-time. With the average age for initial diagnosis of women with ADHD at 36 to 38 years of age, it is critical for a treatment plan to take into account the hormonal changes that will be occurring over the next 20 to 30 years.

Estrogen and ADHD

For a woman with ADHD it is important to work with a mental health professional who is aware of the interaction between ADHD symptoms and estrogen levels. Looking at a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, estrogen is at higher levels during the first two weeks and progesterone is higher during the last two weeks.

Estrogen may help ADHD medications work while progesterone may interfere with the effectiveness of those same medications. Due to the changing estrogen levels, the beginning two weeks of the menstrual cycle typically present with less complaints of bothersome symptoms. When the level of estrogen drops and progesterone increases during the last two weeks of the monthly cycle, increased complaints of exasperated symptoms and non-effective medication are often voiced.

Perimenopause and ADHD

Approximately 10 years before the onset of menopause a woman will go through perimenopause. During this extended time period of hormonal changes, the estrogen produced in the body slowly decreases until at the onset of menopause it has decreased by about 65%.

Perimenopause Symptoms Mimic & Worsen ADHD

The following list of symptoms experienced during perimenopause mimic those of ADHD as well as making any original symptoms of ADHD worse. It is thought that many women are diagnosed with ADHD around the time of these life-changes when the symptoms of ADHD combined with the symptoms of perimenopause, and then menopause, send them looking for help.

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Memory lapses
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with mental clarity
  • Trouble with word recall or retrieval
  • Difficulty sleeping

Hormonal Changes Continue into Menopause

The depression and cognitive deficits that occur with decreasing levels of estrogen as a woman enters menopause often bring a woman with ADHD to have difficulty with coping with daily life situations. Many women, beginning in their late 30s, often seek help for the first time when hormonal changes combine with ADHD symptoms. Others who have already been diagnosed with ADHD often find themselves with worsening symptoms that become overwhelming.

ADHD Treatment during Hormonal Changes

If you feel life changes are making you feel out of control and unable to cope with even normal daily routines, you may have undiagnosed ADHD. Help is available. For new diagnoses or for treatment adjustments during the years of hormonal changes, call Dr. Hege and regain control over your life once again.