It can be a confusing and challenging time, but there are ways to cope. Here’s what you need to know.
Menopause is a natural process when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs. This usually happens around the age of 50. Dur ing menopause, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone decline.
Perimenopause is the transition period leading up to menopause. It usually begins in a woman’s 40s but can start earlier or later and last up to 12 years. During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. This can cause changes in her menstrual cycle, mood, and other physical symptoms.
You can read more about perimenopause here.
Estrogen, which decreases during perimenopause, helps with dopamine production, helps increase the rate of dopamine breakdown, helps keep dopamine levels available for longer, and helps increase the number of receptors for dopamine available in the brain.
So it makes sense that when these levels plummet, women would start to struggle with ADHD-like symptoms. We know that ADHD is related to low dopamine levels. Additionally, levels of dopamine are increased by stimulants.
Over the past few years, as we have begun to understand and identify ADHD in women more, it’s evident that women with ADHD suffer terribly during these transitions. Their symptoms get worse. Not only that, but women who never were diagnosed as having ADHD, or who were considered subthreshold are now worsening to the point where they can no longer deny their diagnosis.
In a typical fashion, most doctors don’t KNOW this info. Women get diagnosed as having anxiety and depression during this time, rather than ADHD. Advocating for yourself is essential; excellent and knowledgeable treatment providers treat women with HRT when possible. Although a very popular study,the Womens Health Initiative suggested, this has since been debunked. It looks like the sooner you can get on treatment, the better you will be.
According to Dr. Susan Varghese, there are natural (black Cohosh and yams) and lifestyle options and changes that can be made to your stimulants if you cannot take HRT.
These three women are experts in this area:
Perimenopausal and menopausal women with ADHD have a double whammy. It’s important to know you aren’t going crazy and don’t have dementia, as this is a common concern often expressed. If you’re having trouble getting your doctor to listen, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. The sooner you can get help, the better you will feel. You deserve to feel as good as possible during this challenging time in your life.
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