Unlocking ADHD writer, Tricia Lim, discovers how hormonal fluctuations in females during different stages in life can affect ADHD symptoms.
Puberty – the time of endless breakouts and rapidly growing out of clothes you just bought. For that, you probably have rising hormone levels to blame. As girls progress through puberty, levels of estrogen and progesterone rises, causing much of those physical changes, not to mention emotional upheavals such as heightened emotions, increased aggression and lower self-esteem.
These changes may exacerbate some ADHD symptoms such as emotional hyperarousal and impulsive behaviour. Additionally, a decrease in self-esteem during puberty may compound on the already lower self-esteem experienced by ADHDers due to increased criticism and challenging life experiences, particularly as academic demands increase during these years.
ADHD could thus make puberty an even more stressful experience than it already is. For parents: patience goes a long way, as does imparting time management strategies and healthy mechanisms for coping with intense emotions. As for the adolescents themselves: be kind to yourself, and remember that you have a great support network (be it friends, family, or fellow ADHDers) that you can turn to as you navigate your youth!
No doubt most of us would be familiar with menstrual cycles. As it turns out, even these monthly hormonal fluctuations can have an impact on ADHD symptoms. Studies have found that lower levels of estrogen and higher levels of progesterone are associated with increased ADHD symptoms.
In the first 2 weeks of your cycle, estrogen tends to rise while progesterone remains low – translating to easier management of ADHD symptoms. The following 2 weeks, however, are characterized by progesterone levels rising above that of estrogen. During this period, symptoms of ADHD may worsen. To mitigate this, try to keep track of when your symptoms worsen and discuss with your physician about adjusting your medication dosage accordingly.
Estrogen, once again the key player in the hormonal regulation of ADHD symptoms, drops by about 65% through perimenopause. This may lead to a worsening of symptoms. Moodiness, irritability, fatigue and memory lapses – common outcomes of menopause – may be more pronounced in women with ADHD.
These hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman’s life are especially inconvenient for women with ADHD. However, while these changes may be inevitable, it is possible to adapt to them. Part of managing ADHD symptoms during these life stages is being aware of the impact they have on you. The right treatment plan that integrates an appropriate medication dosage, a healthy and balanced diet, exercise and employment of stress reduction techniques are keys to successfully navigating these hormonal changes.