However, what you may not know is that many perimenopausal and menopausal women experience ADHD-like symptoms, because hormonal fluctuations affect brain chemistry. Due to lowered levels of estrogen, women with ADHD often experience a worsening of their existing symptoms and new symptoms can manifest. In addition, the dropping levels of estrogen, which can be as much as 65%, can also affect both serotonin and dopamine, two of the key neurotransmitters found in the brain.
What does this mean in practical terms? Lowered levels of estrogen can cause the following: increased difficulty concentrating, memory dysfunction, word retrieval and other cognitive problems, and less mental clarity, or 'brain fog'.
It's difficult enough being a woman with ADHD, but if you are in perimenopause or menopause, your symptoms are often exacerbated, and according to Dr. Patricia Quinn, M.D., a developmental pediatrician and director of the National Center for Girls and Women with AD/HD, "for some women, the decline is sudden and dramatic."
This cartoon probably looks familiar to most women, (and men) with ADD*. I'm sure this kind of thing happens to everyone once in a while, but for those of us with "ADDed" gifts, it can be a way of life. For women who are not used to experiencing these occurrences, I imagine it can be extremely frustrating, if not downright scary to feel that your memory is not working as well as it used to. If you are a woman with ADHD, it's probably not at all frightening and likely even commonplace, to walk intently into a room and then promptly forget why you are there. And, this can occur a few (or more) times per day and not just occasionally. It's also not particularly scary, though it is frustrating, to be in the middle of a sentence and completely forget the word we were about to use, or even what we were talking about! Sometimes, we find things in really weird places and demand to know who put them there, although it's a bit more difficult to shift the blame if you happen to be the only one at home. (Um, yeah, I once found the masking tape in the fridge.) For real.
Even if you've become accustomed to some of these occurrences, they can still be exasperating, especially if they've now increased in number and frequency. Some women find what were once speed bumps are now roadblocks.
In addition to notable cognitive differences, many women experience an onset or increase in feelings of fatigue, low energy, brain fogginess and apathy or even depression. If you are a woman with ADD, these symptoms may not be new, but again, they could worsen and if you're on medication for your ADD, you may find that the meds don't appear to be working as well to control your symptoms.
What is paramount, as with new or worsening symptoms of any kind, is to see a doctor to determine the cause and get treatment options. If you suspect that you could be entering menopause or perimenopause, see your gynecologist to confirm this diagnosis. If you already have ADHD and your symptoms appear to be getting worse, you will likely need to see your gynecologist and your ADD specialist, especially if you are currently on medication for the ADD. If you are not currently treating with a professional for your ADD, The National Resource Center of ADHD advises to visit a specialist who is familiar with ADHD in adult women.
- Brain training exercises;
- Getting the right kinds of exercise;
- Eating brain healthy foods;
- Some form of meditative practice;
- Actively socializing;
- Learning new tasks;
- Increased self-care, and my own favorite and self-prescribed treatment,
- Laugh, laugh, laugh, cry and laugh! Often.
WHAT IS WORKING MEMORY?
- Completely losing what you were about to say next, while in the middle of a sentence or thought;
- Forgetting a word that you do know, but which completely escapes your mind when you are about to use it;
- Test-taking, reading comprehension, written and verbal expression;
- Forgetting a person's name immediately after an introduction;
- Forgetting what you JUST said or did, i.e., where you put your keys 10 seconds earlier
For children and students, this can be a serious problem in school, because working memory is crucial to learning activities. Some ways you might see it manifested in children and teens:
- Appearing as though they have not paid attention, such as forgetting all or part of instructions or messages;
- Losing their place in complicated or multi-pronged tasks;
- Difficulty taking notes in class, perhaps because they forget what was said when they are concentrating on writing or spelling it;
- Trouble with test taking;
- Easily distracted
- WHEN YOU WANT TO BELIEVE...
- FEAR OF BOREDOM
- 11 REASONS MOST NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FAIL
- CLEAN UP AS YOU GO
- ON CONQUERING PROCRASTINATION
- Rock Your Bottom?
- MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR SUMMER
- From SCARED to SACRED
- NO MORE RESOLUTIONS!
- BACK TO WORK