Menopause and ADHD have a complicated and unique relationship. This is because of the aging and hormonal changes that come with menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels decline during perimenopause and menopause, which make ADHD more severe. This can be quite difficult to deal with if you do not understand how menopause exacerbates ADHD. However, better understanding both menopause and ADHD, how they interact with one another, and the role that estrogen plays, is helpful in learning how to manage and work with menopause and ADHD – and not be overtaken by them.
How menopause affects the brain:
Here is a very informative TED talk by Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist, on How Menopause Affects the Brain. As a woman ages, her estrogen levels decrease by more than half. The decrease in estrogen levels directly affects the brain causing a decrease in cognitive abilities. The symptoms of menopause can be moodiness, sadness, irritability, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and memory lapses. You can look a little bit further in this article for a review of the symptoms of ADHD. The symptoms of menopause and ADHD can overlap and make each more intense. Better understanding the role that estrogen plays is helpful – especially when it comes to finding solutions for getting and staying organized when working with menopause and ADHD.
A note about estrogen:
The hormone estrogen is very intricately involved in a woman’s sexual and reproductive development as well as other organ systems. In addition to this, estrogen directly affects the brain. It regulates and balances neurotransmitters such as dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin. These important neurotransmitters play key roles in memory, mood regulation, and the ability to make decisions. As a woman approaches perimenopause and the menopause years, estrogen decreases. This decrease can bring out and/or exacerbate ADHD symptoms. In fact, the hormonal effects of less estrogen can have even more of an effect on women with ADHD because of their difficulty already to concentrate and make decisions.
A review of the symptoms of ADHD:
Chronic disorganization is often found with those who have ADHD. This doesn’t mean that people with ADHD can’t get organized. This just means that there are certain challenges people face with ADHD when trying to get and stay organized. Here is a review of the symptoms of ADHD:
- Trouble focusing
- Difficulty finishing a task
- Hard time paying attention
- Easily distracted
- Often forgetful
- Mind often wandering instead of on the person or task at the present moment
- Trouble staying still
- Excessive talking
- Fidgets a lot
- Trouble with impulsivity: habit of interrupting, using others’ belongings without permission, intruding on others’ conversations or activities
- Difficulty waiting or listening to directions
- Accident or injury prone
Helpful solutions for working with menopause and ADHD:
You can learn to channel and focus that energy or lack thereof to the task at hand. The Solutions for ADHD Challenges work well when going through menopause. At Abundance Organizing, those of us who have ADHD have personally learned how to be extremely productive with our ADHD, and also help others to thrive – especially including those going through menopause. Organizing, menopause, and ADHD can actually all work well together! Here are five practical tips for time management, being productive, and staying focused when dealing with ADHD and menopause:
(1) Factor in buffer time.
During the day everything takes longer than you actually think it will. Allow for extra time.This will help to keep the atmosphere calm when you have time limitations, scheduled events, or to do’s that must be completed. Factoring in extra buffer time will help you to get where you need to go on time and finish what you need to do. For example, factor in extra time into your morning routine so that you are able to put the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher or help your kids complete their morning routine. Extra time will allow buffer time if you get distracted instead of finding yourself in a panic – and then finding the kitchen a disaster zone by the end of the day!
(2) Choose your time of day.
Find the time of day when you are able to focus best and then schedule the tasks that need your most concentration at the times of the day when you are able to focus best. If you are able to focus best before 3:00pm, then aim to schedule all meetings in the morning or at least before early afternoon hours when you are able to focus best. If you know that you struggle with staying focused in the morning, then don’t try to work on a task that needs your focus in the morning. No sense in fighting the time you work best…instead, embrace it!
(3) Set a timer and just go.
Do you find yourself often procrastinating? Maybe you have a hard time getting started on projects, tasks, or making phone calls? With ADHD and the hormonal changes that menopause bring, it can be extremely overwhelming to start a daunting task. When you find yourself hesitating, instead of procrastinating, set your timer for 30 minutes and just take a go at your task. You will be surprised at how much of the task you accomplish. Maybe you find your groove and keep going, maybe you do not. However, you have jumped over a big hurdle by jumping into your task and actively working on it for 30 minutes. This is an empowering step towards completing your goal.
(4) Establish your launch pad.
Do you have a hard time being productive because you constantly can’t find items or remember where you put them? We highly recommend that you establish a launch pad. Organizing your launch pad helps all your comings and goings. It should be the first place you see when you enter your home and the last place you see when you leave your home. A launch pad is the in-between place meant to house anything you will be reaching for constantly like keys, purse, mail, doggie bags, etc. If you have kids, it’s where their backpacks go and even their sports equipment. Launch pads will help you to get and stay organized.
(5) Body doubling for the win.
In organizing, we have a technique called body doubling that we encourage clients to use to help stay grounded and focused on tasks they might otherwise avoid. This involves having someone sit nearby with you engaging in quiet activity like reading, paperwork, or email while you are trying to get work done as well. No one likes to feel like they are all alone doing a dull task while everyone else is having fun. This can be a real game changer!
Read our other blog posts for more tips and be sure to check out our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook for more.