It always amazes me how much we have yet to understand about ADHD. What worries me more is how much professionals still need to learn about ADHD.
Recently a woman was worried about her ADD symptoms getting worse. As we talked, it became clear that she was entering perimenopause. Her mood worsened a week before and during her periods and her appetite was out of control. But what really put her over the edge was how much worse her memory and other cognitive symptoms were each month. Since her periods were becoming irregular, she couldn’t prepare herself and see these changes coming. She was more forgetful, having more brain “fog” and lost her temper more easily.
I often suggest to women who are having hormonal changes that affect their ADHD to first talk to their doctor about possibly changing up their ADD meds (I’m not a doctor so cannot offer advice, however…some docs will increase their patients’ ADD meds or add an antidepressant if needed).
Do you find that your thinking isn’t as sharp around the time of your periods? Do you feel more irritable and cranky, even more so than before perimenopause? Are you more forgetful? Do you worry you might have early onset dementia/Alzheimer’s? These are all valid concerns, and I address an entire chapter to hormones in my new book, The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get it all Done.
What to do in the meantime? Talking to your health care provider about your worsening symptoms is imperative. In addition to tweaking your ADD meds (and maybe adding an antidepressant if warranted), your doctor might also consider hormone replacement therapy if indicated. Bottom line- get medical advice!
In addition to that, pay attention (I know, ha ha) to what specific symptoms are worsening during this time in your life. Begin coming up with a plan and share it with your family. Explain to them that the changes in your behavior are due to the hormone/ADD combo. Make healthy changes in your life (I know I don’t even have to go into those specifics- you know what they are), but also, find ways to make your life easier during those rough days. For example, try not to schedule in stressful activities or take on additional work responsibilities. If possible, cut back on your hours at work. Take extra special care of yourself by spending more time doing what you enjoy.
Hormonal changes can be troublesome and for many, the ADD symptoms get worse, but there are ways to deal with that. Many post-menopausal women find that their moods level out significantly, so that alone is something to look forward to!
How about you? What changes are you noticing that relate to your hormones? Share them below in the comment section!