ADHD News & Research

Study: PMDD, Menopause, Postpartum Depression May Be More Severe in Women with ADHD

PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), postpartum depression, and menopause are hormone-related mood disorders that may disproportionately impact women with ADHD, according to a new study.

January 27, 2020

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression, and climacteric mood symptoms disproportionately impact women with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD), according to a new study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.1 The study found that women with ADHD more commonly experience symptoms of hormone-related mood disorders, and those symptoms may be more severe than those experienced by women without ADHD.

Study participants included 209 adult female patients with ADHD (ages 18-71) from an outpatient ADHD clinic in The Hague, Netherlands. Seventy of the participants had irregular menstrual cycles; 35 were peri-or-postmenopausal; and 174 were of reproductive age. Roughly 62% of the participants with at least one biological child reported complications after their first childbirth. PMDD was assessed using the Neuropsychiatric Interview Plus version 5.0.0.; postpartum depression symptoms (PPD) were assessed using the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale; and climacteric symptoms were assessed using the Greene Climacteric Scale. Comorbid disorders, medication use, and chronobiological sleep characteristics were also assessed.

The prevalence of PMDD, PPD, and climacteric scores were high in women with ADHD. After correcting for age and education level, researchers found that use of contraceptives was associated with lower PMDD symptoms, and use of antidepressants was associated with higher PMDD symptoms. Comparison to two systemic reviews revealed PMDD symptoms were significantly higher in the PPD-group compared to the no-PPD-group, with a medium effect size, and the PPD-group used significantly more antidepressants (49% of the patients) than the no-PPD-group.

A significant increase was found in the following GCS scores: anxiety, depression, and sexual dysfunction, vasomotor and somatic complaints, but there were no significant differences in sleep characteristics or current comorbidity between groups with and without PPD or PMDD, or increased climacteric scores.

Researchers concluded that these findings are significant because “This is the first study in women with ADHD that suggests that female ADHD patients suffer from significant PMDD symptoms, experience PPD during the first child birth, and experience more severe climacteric symptoms.”

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1Dorani F, Bijlenga D, Beekman ATF, van Someren EJW, Kooij JJS. Prevalence of hormone-related mood disorder symptoms in women with ADHD. J Psychiatr Res. Published online December 3, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.12.005

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