July 25, 2024

adhd and period

Navigating life with ADHD brings its own set of challenges, and when your menstrual cycle comes into play, these challenges can feel even more pronounced. Let's explore how ADHD and your period intersect, impacting your emotional and cognitive well-being.

Understanding the Interplay between ADHD Symptoms and Hormonal Fluctuations

When estrogen levels rise during the first half of your menstrual cycle, known as the Follicular Phase, ADHD symptoms often ease up, offering a sense of relief. Conversely, during the Luteal Phase, as estrogen levels decrease and progesterone rises, ADHD symptoms may intensify, presenting greater hurdles to overcome.

Key Ideas To Understand:

Estrogen fluctuations directly affect dopamine levels, with low estrogen corresponding to low dopamine and high estrogen to high dopamine. As a result, ADHD symptoms tend to worsen during low estrogen phases and improve during high estrogen phases.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), ADHD, and Your Period

The combination of ADHD and PMS can result in particularly challenging symptoms, including heightened mood swings, irritability, and cognitive difficulties. Many women with ADHD report experiencing exacerbated symptoms during their menstrual cycle, indicating a potential overlap between ADHD and PMS.

PMDD and ADHD and Your Period

Furthermore, women with ADHD and Autism may be more susceptible to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a severe hormonal mood disorder characterized by intense mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and severe mood dysregulation. However, PMDD typically subsides after the vulnerable days of the menstrual cycle pass.

Managing ADHD Medication During Your Period

Hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle can even  impact the effectiveness of ADHD medications, such as stimulants like Adderall.

It's essential to be aware of these fluctuations when managing your medication regimen, as some women may find certain medications less effective during specific phases of their cycle. Your doctor should know about this and may even need to change your medications during this time for optimal effectiveness

Strategies to Relieve ADHD Symptoms during Your Period

Navigating ADHD symptoms during your menstrual cycle requires patience and self-awareness. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Track your period: Monitoring your cycle can help you anticipate changes in symptoms and plan accordingly.
  • Prioritize simpler tasks: Focus on tasks that require less concentration during periods of heightened symptoms.
  • Practice self-care: Allow yourself the rest and relaxation you need during challenging phases.
  • Be kind to yourself: Understand that it's okay to adjust your expectations and take things one step at a time.
  • Adapt your routine: Make adjustments to your daily routine based on how you're feeling, whether it's breaking tasks into shorter intervals or minimizing distractions.

Hormonal Fluctuations: More details

The Multiple Hormone Sensitivity Theory suggests that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can trigger or worsen psychiatric symptoms in adhd women. This theory identifies three cyclical mechanisms:

  • Estrogen Withdrawal Sensitivity: This leads to a decrease in executive cognitive functions during the perimenstrual phase (just before menstruation starts), affecting attention and emotion regulation. This is due to the withdrawal of estrogen, which normally enhances dopamine responses in the brain.

  • Luteally Bound Increases in Hypersensitivity: Occurring in the luteal phase (after ovulation and just before menstruation), this mechanism involves heightened irritability, interpersonal reactivity, negative emotions like anger and anxiety, and increased sensory sensitivities. These symptoms are primarily driven by fluctuations in progesterone metabolites.

  • Mid cycle According to the theory, there are fluctuations in estrogen levels around ovulation that may worsen impulsivity by interacting with dysregulated approach behaviors and reward sensitivity. This interaction is particularly noted during the mid-cycle, around ovulation, where there is a noted increase in approach and reward behaviors, which can lead to heightened impulsivity. You may be more at risk for substance abuse or risky sexual behavior at this time ( particularly if you havve the impulsive hyperactive type of adhd).

Overall, the theory posits that normal hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can significantly impact mental health and behavior due to neurobiological sensitivity to these changes.


Seeking Support: ADHD Communities and Navigating Your Period

Navigating ADHD and your period can feel isolating, but there are numerous communities and resources available to offer support and guidance. Consider joining a women's ADHD community to connect with others who understand what you're going through.