Ask Dr. Saline: Do you have any advice for women with ADHD going through menopause?

 Dear Dr. Saline,

What advice do you have for women with ADHD going through menopause? I’m already pretty forgetful and moody, even before “going through the change”. Should I expect my ADHD symptoms to get worse? Would fluctuating hormones affect me? Any insights would be truly appreciated!



Dear Becca,

ADHD shows up differently in females than in males. Girls and women with ADHD tend to have more challenges with anxiety, social awkwardness, overwhelm, and depression than boys and men. So it can be expected that there are female-specific symptoms and manifestations of ADHD at different stages of a woman’s life. Moreover, there is evidence of the relationship between declining hormone levels, mood and cognitive capacity. Let’s take a closer look at how menopause can affect ADHD and what you can expect in this season of your life.

ADHD and Menopause

Research has shown that hormonal changes can affect ADHD symptoms, increasing distractibility, mood changes, and forgetfulness. The onset of perimenopause and menopause can lead to extreme mood and cognitive shifts related to the declining levels of estrogen and progesterone. Women who may have experienced mild symptoms of ADHD (known or unknown) may suddenly experience issues that seem ‘new’ and distressing to them including decreased working memory and time management abilities and increased impulsivity, reactivity, disorganization, and overwhelm. Some women report that their pre-existing ADHD symptoms seem to get worse during menopause.

In a recent survey, women between the ages of 40 and 59 reported that their most problematic ADHD symptoms were overwhelm, brain fog, memory issues, and time-management difficulties. And women over 60 reported struggling with brain fog and memory issues, procrastination, and overwhelm. It is still not clear whether menopause amplifies ADHD symptoms or vice versa. Regardless, these and other issues like difficulty sleeping and mood swings need to be managed.

What Can You Do For Yourself?

Despite limited research about ADHD and menopause and a lot of misleading information found across social media, my best advice is to work with your health care team to help accurately diagnose and treat your symptoms. In addition to that, there are some things you can do for yourself to help you stay grounded, confident, and strong as you navigate menopause. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find support in your community

Whether it’s friends, coworkers, neighbors or family members, make sure you have a supportive community around you. Menopause can be a difficult time for women, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. A group of understanding and like-minded women can make all the difference. Remember that virtual communities and online groups are also great options if getting together in person is difficult.

2. Stay informed

Read articles, listen to podcasts and follow news sources which provide accurate, verified information about ADHD and menopause. Becoming well-informed and reading up on the latest research is empowering. When in doubt, consult with your physician and other knowledgeable health professionals before believing social media posts or TikTok videos.

3. Practice Self-Care

So many women provide great care for others but don’t take care of themselves. Try to make yourself more of a priority. Unless you are healthy and strong, you won’t be able to meet all your obligations, so start putting yourself first more often. Nutrition, exercise and sleep hygiene are critical during menopause. And don’t forget about the importance of emotional wellness and confidence. Many women find that meditation and journaling help them achieve focus and clarity in their day-to-day. Others seek out a therapist or coach to assist them with addressing shifting emotions and developing effective strategies.

4. Show yourself kindness and empathy

It’s easy to feel down and be hard on yourself due to your ADHD-related challenges. When you’re already stretched thin, the tasks of daily living, working and parenting can require more effort, time, and focus than you would like. Remember that you are doing the best you can with the tools available to you in a given moment. So, try to find some extra compassion and understanding for yourself. Instead of listening to the relentless nagging of your inner critic and its messages of doubt and judgment, identify the skills and supports you need to live your best life as a woman with ADHD. Connect with others who have shared a similar journey: reach out to the sisterhood of neurodivergent women. You are not alone, and you will get through this.