PTSD and Heart Disease in Women

CNN recently reported on the results of a 20 year study that show women with post-traumatic stress face a 60% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, the study discovered that women who experienced a trauma without reporting any PTSD symptoms still faced a 45% higher risk of heart attack and stroke than women who did not report any trauma in their lives.

PTSD Occurrence

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is twice as common in women as in men occurring in some people following a traumatic event in their lives. Those with PTSD may experience flashbacks of the traumatic event, insomnia, fatigue, trouble with memory or focus and a feeling of emotional numbness. Other symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, irritability, or of being easily startled or upset. A knowledgeable psychiatrist will be able to successfully direct the treatment plan to manage both mental health and physical health concerns.

Cardiovascular Disease vs PTSD Symptoms

Data from the 20 year study indicated that almost half of the association between elevated PTSD symptoms and cardiovascular disease was accounted for by unhealthy behaviors like smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and medical factors such as high blood pressure. While PTSD is typically looked at as a psychological disorder, findings from the study point to the profound impact PTSD has on physical health, specifically cardiovascular risk, making PTSD a potentially serious health impacting mental health disorder.

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into one of four types: 1) intrusive memories, 2) avoidance, 3) negative changes in thinking and mood, or 4) changes in emotional reactions. The symptoms most commonly seen in each type follow:

Intrusive Memories – symptoms may include:

  • Reliving the traumatic event over and over again
  • Unwanted distressing memories recur frequently
  • Upsetting dreams related to the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Emotional or physical reactions to reminders of event

Avoidance – symptoms seen include:

  • Avoiding places, people or activities that reminds one of the traumatic event
  • Making an effort to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event

Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood – symptoms include:

  • Having negative feelings about oneself or others
  • Being unable to experience positive feelings or emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Feelings of hopelessness or impending doom
  • Memory loss related to important details about traumatic event
  • Trouble maintaining close relationships

Changes in Emotional Reactions – symptoms for this include:

  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Feeling constantly on guard for danger
  • Expressions of irritability, aggressive behavior, outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Experiencing sleep disturbances
  • Finding yourself easily startled or frightened

Treatment for Women with PTSD

There has been great success in treating PTSD with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. An experienced psychiatrist understands the connection between PTSD and increased risk of cardiovascular disease; both the mental and physical aspects of PTSD will be covered in a treatment plan geared to individual needs.

Call the office to set up an initial visit at a time convenient to your schedule.

Women Show 85% Increase in ADHD Treatments reports that there are at least 4 million adult women with ADHD with up to 75% who have not been properly diagnosed yet. In a separate study the Daily Beast, a highly regarded online e-newspaper, supports the data that adult women with ADHD between the ages of 24 to 36 are the fastest growing population undergoing treatment for ADHD – in fact, between 2008 and 2012 the use of ADHD medication by this age group of women increased by 85%.

Diagnosis of Women With ADHD Often Missed

Girls that are not diagnosed with ADHD typically grow into adult women who continue to avoid proper diagnosis as they are not seen displaying the stereotypical symptoms and behaviors. Many girls and women tend to fall into the inattentive type of ADHD, and even when they do display episodes of hyperactivity, these bursts of energy are funneled into dealing with the multiple tasks involved with, for example, household duties, work, school, raising children, running errands, spending time with their partner, and maybe finding some “me” time along the way.

Women With ADHD Aged 26 to 34 Show Biggest Increases

It has been a common finding that women with ADHD tend to cope until they become unable to do so anymore.  Women between the ages of 26 to 34 find themselves facing multiple life changes and responsibilities such as college, employment, working on a permanent relationship and becoming a mother for the first time. Career, time constraints and financial demands require greater attention as well as add on to the stress of juggling the many hats that a woman wears. Women with undiagnosed ADHD find that they can no longer cope as the pressure and stress of daily life add up and reach a breaking point.

The Personal Cost of Undiagnosed ADHD in Women

There are many significant impacts of adult ADHD on women. The most common personal price that is paid is in developing a low self-esteem or poor self-concept. Women with undiagnosed ADHD are more likely to suffer through divorce and periods of unemployment. These women often have difficulty in making social connections, or in “living up” to their standard of what they think a good wife, mother or partner should be like. They often find themselves frustrated and under attack even when things are going well in their work or home life.

With an increased awareness of how adult ADHD affects women, the numbers of those seeking help is growing at a significant rate. With proper diagnosis and treatment often comes relief with the understanding of how ADHD has impacted their life.

Dr. Darvin Hege is ready to help you change your life now and for the future. Dr. Hege’s flexible office hours include evenings and weekends to better fit your schedule and needs. Call us today!

ADHD and Menopause Increase Symptoms

It is a common complaint from women going through menopause that they find themselves facing a wide range of emotional and physiological symptoms. Menopausal symptoms typically reported include irritability, moodiness, and overwhelming sadness, not to mention feeling over-fatigued, experiencing memory lapses and poor ability to think clearly. For women already diagnosed with ADHD, they become acutely aware that ADHD symptoms become more pronounced over a period of 10 years, starting in peri-menopause and continuing non-stop into menopause. Hormonal fluctuations do result in intensified ADHD symptoms. For women with undiagnosed ADHD who enter menopause they may find the intensity of the symptoms so great that they seek mental health intervention.

Hormonal Effects of Menopause on ADHD

By the time of menopause, a woman’s estrogen level has dropped by 65% over the course of the prior 10 years. Psych Central reports that decreasing estrogen leads to decreased levels of the “feel good” serotonin and dopamine levels found in the brain chemistry. The drop in estrogen levels can exacerbate ADHD symptoms which can appear suddenly in women in their 30s and 40s as well as in women who have reached menopause. Decreased serotonin levels can lead to a depressed mood, while decreased availability of dopamine directly affects the appearance of increased ADHD symptoms.

Common Challenges of ADHD during Menopause

An insufficient amount of dopamine is a classic sign of ADHD. Additional declines of dopamine levels during the peri-menopause and menopause phases may result in more severe difficulties with concentration, attention and focus. In addition, women may discover that they are having trouble staying organized, managing their time, making thought-out decisions or finding that they become forgetful of even common routine activities and appointments. With peri-menopause starting about 10 years before menopause, it is important for women to know that there is help for their symptoms. Being diagnosed with ADHD opens the door to forming a complete mental health treatment plan that can provide relief.

Treatment Options for ADHD and Menopause

Attitude magazine reports it is important to find an ADHD menopause experienced psychiatrist who is able to set up a successful treatment strategy and make medication adjustments as needed to meet your changing needs through the decades long peri-menopause phase to the menopause stage. Women who experience intense PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) may have undiagnosed ADHD. Receiving a correct comprehensive diagnosis can lighten the monthly depression, anxiety, irritability and “fuzzy headed” feelings that PMS and the pre-menstrual to menstrual phase bring.

Atlanta ADHD Menopause Psychiatrist

Dr. Darvin Hege is the expert when it comes to successful treatment of ADHD and menopause. Call the office for psychiatric treatment that will put your ADHD menopausal symptoms in check.