The severity of ADHD symptoms will change during the course of a woman’s cycle. Here’s what you need to know to manage them.
by Laura Flynn McCarthy
Do your ADD symptoms worsen at certain times of the month?
Is your thinking a little fuzzier the week before your period?
Are you organized and efficient at mid-cycle?
Doctors who treat women with ADHD have noted correlations between ADHD symptoms and hormonal fluctuations, not only monthly but over the lifetime of a woman.
“The average age of diagnosis for women with ADHD, who weren’t diagnosed as children, is 36 to 38 years old,” says Patricia Quinn, M.D., director of the National Center for Girls and Women with AD/HD, and author of Understanding Women with ADHD. “Before that time, girls and women are often misdiagnosed as having depression or an anxiety disorder. Even if these are secondary conditions, treating them does not get to the root of the problem, which is ADHD.”
When doctors diagnose girls and women with ADD, they rarely consider hormonal fluctuations when developing a treatment plan. But professionals are learning more about the connections between hormones and ADD. Here, we outline four stages in a woman’s life — from puberty to menopause — describe what’s happening hormonally, and offer ways to manage symptoms.