Menopause and ADHD:
What You Need To Know

"I thought I was going crazy!"


"Something's got to give, I'm so glad it's not all in my head."


"Thank goodness I found someone who understands!"

These are just a few of the heartfelt sentiments I hear from women in the perimenopausal and menopausal stages of life who experience a dramatic increase in the intensity of their ADHD symptoms. As a mental health practitioner, I've seen firsthand how this transition can create a unique set of challenges for women who already navigate the world with ADHD.

It's not uncommon to hear stories of women who were perfectly functional, even thriving, in their 30s and 40s, only to find themselves struggling with a sudden and unexpected wave of ADHD symptoms as they approach their 50s. This is a common experience, and it's essential to understand why it happens and what we can do about it.

Why Menopause Makes ADHD More Challenging

Recently, I hosted a webinar on the often-overlooked connection between menopause and ADHD. It was amazing to see so many women connect with the information, sharing their own experiences and finding relief in knowing they weren't alone.

For those who missed the webinar, or want a quick refresher, let's dive into the key takeaways about how menopause can impact ADHD symptoms, and what we can do about it.

The Hormonal Roller Coaster: How Oestrogen Impacts ADHD

Menopause is a natural transition in a woman's life, marked by the cessation of menstruation due to declining oestrogen levels. While this is a normal part of ageing, for women with ADHD, it can create a unique set of challenges.

Here's why:

Brain Chemistry: Oestrogen plays a crucial role in brain function, affecting neurotransmitter activity, including dopamine and serotonin, which are essential for focus, concentration, mood regulation, and executive function.

ADHD and Neurotransmitter Imbalances: Individuals with ADHD often experience imbalances in these neurotransmitters. As oestrogen levels fluctuate during perimenopause and decline during menopause, these imbalances can become more pronounced.

Unmasking ADHD: For many women, the hormonal shifts of menopause can "unmask" underlying ADHD that may have gone undiagnosed earlier in life. Coping mechanisms that were effective in managing ADHD symptoms during younger years become less effective, leading to a more noticeable presentation of symptoms.

The Impact on Daily Life: Common Symptoms and Challenges

Many women report experiencing a significant increase in ADHD symptoms during perimenopause and menopause, including:

  • Increased Disorganisation: Struggles with organisation and time management can become more pronounced, leading to challenges with work, home life, and personal commitments.
  • Poor Time Management: The ability to plan and prioritise tasks can become more difficult, leading to feelings of overwhelm and procrastination.
  • Inattention: Concentration and focus may become more challenging, making it difficult to complete tasks, follow conversations, or stay on track.
  • Emotional Dysregulation: Mood swings, irritability, and difficulty regulating emotions can become more frequent and intense.
  • Procrastination: Putting off tasks, even those that are important, can become a significant challenge.
  • Impulsivity: Acting without thinking, making impulsive decisions, and difficulty controlling impulses can become more common.
  • Memory Problems & Brain Fog: Forgetfulness, difficulty remembering appointments, and feeling like your brain is "foggy" can be frustrating and debilitating.

These challenges can significantly impact relationships, work, and overall quality of life. Many women feel a sense of frustration and isolation as they struggle to manage these changes. They may question their abilities, feel less confident in their roles, and experience a decline in their overall sense of well-being.

Finding Support and Treatment

Fortunately, there are effective strategies for navigating this intersection of menopause and ADHD. A comprehensive approach that includes medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications can help women regain control and improve their quality of life.

  1. Medication:
  • Stimulant Medications: Stimulant medications like Lisdexamfetamine and Dexamphetamines are often prescribed for ADHD. These medications can be particularly helpful during menopause, as they can improve focus, concentration, and executive function, counteracting the negative effects of hormonal changes on brain chemistry.
  • Non-Stimulant Medications: Non-stimulant medications like atomoxetine (Strattera) can also be effective for managing ADHD symptoms, especially for women who prefer a non-stimulant option.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): In some cases, HRT may be recommended to manage menopausal symptoms and potentially improve ADHD symptoms. However, it's important to discuss the risks and benefits of HRT with your healthcare provider, as it may not be appropriate for all women.
  1. Therapy:
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours. It can be particularly beneficial for women with ADHD as it teaches strategies for managing stress, improving organisational skills, and enhancing emotional regulation.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Mindfulness and meditation practices can help reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance emotional regulation, which can be beneficial for managing ADHD symptoms during menopause.
  1. Lifestyle Modifications:
  • Healthy Diet and Exercise: Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can support brain health and improve overall well-being.
  • Adequate Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing ADHD symptoms. Menopause can disrupt sleep patterns, so it's essential to prioritise sleep hygiene and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Stress Management: Stress can worsen ADHD symptoms. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or spending time in nature, is important.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with other women who are going through menopause or have ADHD can provide a sense of community and support.

Seeking the Right Help: Why It Matters

Navigating menopause with ADHD can be challenging, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. If you're experiencing an increase in ADHD symptoms during this time, seeking professional help is essential.

  • Comprehensive Assessments: A thorough assessment by a healthcare professional specialising in ADHD and women's health is crucial. This will help determine the best course of treatment for your unique needs.
  • Personalised Treatment Plans: Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a personalised treatment plan that may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
  • Support and Resources: Your provider can also connect you with support groups and other resources that can help you manage your symptoms and navigate this transition.

At Diverse Diagnostics, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and culturally sensitive assessment services for all. We understand that menopause can be a challenging time, and we're here to help you navigate this transition with confidence and clarity

- Amy Walker, Mental Health Practitioner



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