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Mind

menopause and ADHD

By | Fact Checked By Andrea Donsky |

We hear a lot about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents, but what about adults? Although the percentages are lower, many women and men are living with ADHD, and that includes women in menopause. How does menopause affect ADHD and vice versa?

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic condition that usually begins in childhood and can continue through adulthood. It is characterized by difficulties with attention and concentration, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, low frustration tolerance, poor planning, disorganization, poor time management skills, and difficulty multitasking. Not everyone with ADHD has all of these symptoms, and their severity can vary. Symptoms also can change with age.

Globally, an estimated 3.4 percent of adults have ADHD, according to one report. A later study conducted in the Netherlands found the symptomatic ADHD rate to be 4.2 percent, with individuals 60 to 70 reporting significantly more symptoms than those 71 and older.

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How is ADHD associated with menopause?

When hormone levels change, it can affect the brain in various ways. In fact, fluctuating estrogen and progesterone beginning in perimenopause and menopause can cause symptoms similar to those associated with ADHD, such as difficulty focusing, irritability, and frustration. 

Research shows that for women who already have ADHD and who are entering perimenopause and menopause, declining estrogen and progesterone can make ADHD symptoms more severe. Women with ADHD may also develop new symptoms during perimenopause or have more trouble managing symptoms they once were able to control.

Some women with ADHD were never diagnosed as children and don’t know they have the disorder. With the arrival of perimenopause and menopause, however, and worsening symptoms, sometimes a diagnosis is finally determined.

How to manage ADHD in menopause naturally

Although medications are commonly prescribed for ADHD, there are some natural alternatives plus lifestyle changes that can be effective for helping you better manage ADHD symptoms in the menopausal years.

  • Get adequate sleep: Sometimes getting adequate, restful sleep can be challenging in menopause, but it’s essential. Adopt healthy sleep habits to help you navigate these rocky waters.
  • Address mental health issues: Depression, stress, anxiety, and mood swings are common in both ADHD and menopause. Consider speaking with a psychiatrist who is familiar with ADHD, especially in women in menopause. A professional can offer some ways to cope with and manage your feelings.
  • See a gynecologist: Choose a gynecologist who has experience treating women in menopause and who will consult with your psychiatrist to help ensure they both understand your needs. Since the symptoms of ADHD and menopause can overlap, they can be challenging to manage.
  • Stay physically active: Daily exercise can help boost levels of endorphins, the feel-good hormones released during physical activity.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques daily. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are a few of the relaxation techniques recommended for women with ADHD in menopause. 
  • Focus on nutrition: It can be easy to forget to eat healthy meals and snacks, so make a simple plan to help you remember. Use a white board on your refrigerator and list healthy foods that you enjoy. Keep a list of nutritious foods on your phone. Set the alarm on your phone to remind you to stick to your meal schedule.

When to see your doctor

If you have never been diagnosed with ADHD but you are experiencing worsening symptoms during menopause, see your physician. It is possible you have undiagnosed ADHD. You also should see your doctor if any medications you are taking for your ADHD symptoms are no longer working or your symptoms have reached a point where they are interfering with your everyday activities.

Bottom line

ADHD and menopause have some symptoms that are similar. Some women enter menopause having already been diagnosed with ADHD and may experience worsening symptoms. It is also possible for a woman to be diagnosed with ADHD for the first time when in menopause. 

  • Antoniou E et al. ADHD symptoms in females of childhood, adolescent, reproductive and menopause period. MateriaSocioMedica 2021 Jun; 33(2):114-18.
  • Behring S. Can ADHD get worse during menopause? Healthline 2022 Jul 27
  • Cassata C. ADHD and menopause: what to know and what you can do. Psych Central 2021 Jul 15
  • Fayyad J et al. Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry 2007 May; 190(5):402–9.
  • Michielsen M et al. Prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in older adults in The Netherlands. British Journal of Psychiatry 2012 Oct; 201(4):298-305.
Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & Menopause Expert. Andrea is in menopause & has been researching for the last 5 years science-based ingredients and methods to help women manage their symptoms. She’s the Founder of NaturallySavvy.com—a multiple award-winning website. Andrea co-authored the book “Unjunk Your Junk Food” published by Simon and Schuster, as well as “Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.” Andrea co-hosts the Morphus for Menopause podcast and appears as a Healthy Living Expert on TV across North America. Andrea has more than 20 years of experience in the health & wellness space and is a multiple award-winning Influencer.