You’re “of a certain age” and suddenly your memory has so many holes you call it “swiss-cheese brain.” You lose things more frequently, and your get lost in your thoughts, distracted in a heartbeat. Women who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) sometimes panic, worrying about their worsening symptoms. Women who have not yet been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD who experience these sometimes-debilitating symptoms ask their doctor, “What’s happening? Do I have ADD/ADHD ... or Alzheimer’s?”
Regardless of whether you have ADD/ADHD or not, menopause influences everything! After “the change,” women’s estrogen levels drop about 65 percent, which affects the uptake of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Less estrogen means lower dopamine and serotonin levels, causing the onset of ADD/ADHD-like symptoms: increased difficulty concentrating, memory dysfunction and cognitive problems, and less mental clarity. If you have ADD/ADHD, the further decrease of dopamine, from your already-low levels, means that existing symptoms get worse and new ones pop up.
This article comes from the Winter 2010 issue of ADDitude. To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.