ADHD News & Research

ADDitude Publishes Groundbreaking Research on Menopause & ADHD for Women’s Health Month

In the first-of-its-kind research published by ADDitude, half of women with ADHD called memory problems and overwhelm “life-altering” in their 40s and 50s, and 83 percent reported experiencing some ADHD symptoms for the first time in perimenopause and menopause.

May 12, 2022

New York – ADDitude magazine, the world’s most trusted resource for people with ADHD, is recognizing Women’s Health Month with the publication of a groundbreaking survey of 1,500 women that reveals ADHD symptoms are most impactful and life-altering during menopause. The survey responses, published in the summer issue of ADDitude out this week, augment a feature article on ADHD symptoms and treatments during menopause by neuropsychologist  Jeanette Wasserstein, Ph.D., who has submitted the ADDitude research as an abstract to the annual European meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) in Barcelona, Spain, this July.

Dr. Wasserstein and ADHD expert, Mary Solanto, Ph.D., plan to use the ADDitude survey data and participants as a launching pad for the first scientific research to date on menopausal women with ADHD — both diagnosed and undiagnosed — later this year.

Quantitative health insights gleaned from the ADDitude survey include the following:

  • 94 percent of women said their ADHD symptoms grew more severe during perimenopause and menopause.
  • The most impactful ADHD symptoms cited during menopause were brain fog or memory issues, and overwhelm, both of which 70 percent of women said had a “life-altering impact” in their 40s and 50s.
  • More than half of respondents reported that their ADHD symptoms grew most severe during their 40s and 50s.

The qualitative stories and experiences submitted by ADDitude survey respondents were no less staggering or important. “Brain fog became unmanageable,” wrote one 45-year-old mother of two who entered perimenopause at age 41. “Distractibility increased and my inability to complete work tasks in an appropriate amount of time decreased. I began spending all night working just to keep up. Things that I used to have unconscious strategies to deal with were no longer manageable.”

Dr. Wasserstein, in her INS abstract, said that hormonal change during menopause, which is associated with cognitive and socioemotional complaints, may make previously masked symptoms of ADHD impossible to ignore. “Our results suggest that the increased complaints can lead to a first diagnosis of ADHD during this period, as well as a worsening of symptoms in those previously diagnosed. Moreover, this hormonal shift may underlie this diagnosis in a subset of the individuals currently characterized as having adult-onset ADHD,” she said.

The average age of diagnosis among ADDitude survey respondents was 43, suggesting that ADHD symptoms continue to be missed or misdiagnosed in women until they reach a tipping point in life. Complicating the evaluation and diagnosis of ADHD is the prevalence of comorbid conditions, which impact 89 percent of women surveyed. Of those, 73 percent reported anxiety and 64 percent cited depression. Many other women reported misdiagnosis or incomplete diagnosis as a significant barrier to health and happiness, which is the focus of ADDitude’s special series for Women’s Health Month this May.

“I feel like doctors aren’t listening to me when I bring up ADHD, and they don’t seem concerned,” wrote one 44-year-old mother of three. “They keep trying to say it’s depression and anxiety, but it’s not. I’ve been depressed and anxious in the past — and this isn’t that.”

Also featured in the summer issue of ADDitude is a pediatric neurologist explaining the pros and cons of giving kids a “medication vacation,” a break from ADHD medications during the summer months. More than 1,000 parents weighed in on what treatment adjustments have and have not worked for their families.

Also in the Summer 2022 issue of ADDitude:

For more information on ADDitude’s proprietary survey of women with ADHD or other articles featured in the summer issue, as well as possible interviews with patients, medical review board members, and/or ADHD experts, please contact Carole Fleck.

About ADDitude magazine:
Since 1998, tens of millions of readers have trusted ADDitude to deliver expert advice and caring support, making us the leading media network for clinicians, educators, parents, and adults living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  ADDitude is not only the world’s most trusted source of strategies and information about ADHD and related condition such as learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and oppositional defiant disorder, we are also the voice and advocate of the ADHD community. In 2021, ADDitude joined the WebMD family of health brands.