ADHD Drug May Be Beneficial Against Menopausal “Brain Fog”

There is hope for post-menopausal women who have executive function challenges.
ADHD News Feed | posted by Devon Frye

A new study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that a common ADHD drug could possibly help women regain some of their mental faculties after going through menopause.

Experts estimate that as many as 90 million American women are “post-menopausal,” meaning they have gone more than 12 months without a menstrual period and are considered to be reproductively inactive.

It’s a natural phase of a woman’s life, but it’s not without complications. Post-menopausal women often report weaker memories, problems with time management, and difficulty solving problems. These collective traits are known as the executive functions, and when women begin to struggle with them — especially women without ADHD, who have successfully managed executive functions their whole lives — they worry that their brain is “out of control.”

The new study sought to tackle that concern, by looking at 32 otherwise healthy, post-menopausal women between the ages of 45 and 60 — none of whom had been diagnosed with ADHD. Their problems with executive functions were measured using the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scale, both before and after the medication trial period. For the study itself, each woman was randomly assigned to either take lisdexamfetamine (LDX) — more commonly known as Vyvanse — for four weeks, or to take a placebo.

Overall, the researchers reported a 41 percent improvement in executive functions for the women taking LDX, compared to 17 percent for the women on the placebo. The researchers hypothesize that LDX works by stimulating the release of dopamine — a neurotransmitter related to ADHD — which can fall dramatically after menopause.

Researchers were encouraged by the results, which seemed to have few side effects for the women in the study. However, the study looked only at the short term, they cautioned, and may not have controlled for other factors like comorbid conditions that could also have contributed to executive function decline.

Still, the results are positive, they say. The great majority of women in the United States will live as much as a third of their life in post-menopause. “Therefore, promoting healthy cognitive aging among menopausal women should be a major public health goal,” say the researchers.

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