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Can Hormones Affect ADHD Symptoms?

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Updated September 17, 2009

Question: Can Hormones Affect ADHD Symptoms?
"My 12 year old daughter, who has ADHD, has been more and more difficult - dramatic and moody - over this last year. She has also started her menstrual cycle and is a major challenge right before her cycle. Can hormonal changes affect ADHD symptoms?"
Answer:

The hormonal changes that take place during puberty can certainly throw a wrench in a pre-teen girl’s life. Changes in her body, the beginning of the menstrual cycle, social pressures, rising insecurities and self-consciousness – can all result in increased moodiness and emotional volatility.

Managing and regulating feelings is hard enough for a child with ADHD. Top this off with the “emotional roller coaster” of normal puberty and early adolescence and a girl with ADHD gets a double whammy to deal with. Times of stress, fatigue, hunger and pre-menstrual are particularly challenging. Not only may your daughter be more emotionally hyper-reactive, her ADHD symptoms may also be amplified.

Girls with ADHD often experience more severe symptoms of PMS in addition to the irritability, cramping, and fatigue. Symptoms may even escalate to the point where a girl experiences such extreme frustrations that she reacts with rage, depression or anxiety. If you notice that this is the case with your daughter talk with her doctor right away. There are medications that may be used to help your daughter if the PMS issues become too intense.

It is important for girls with ADHD and their parents to be aware of how these hormonal changes can impact daily life. With this understanding, parents are apt to be more tolerant of the struggles and vulnerabilities their daughter is facing and girls are more likely to proactively identify the stresses that can worsen reactions and ADHD symptoms and develop positive coping strategies to get through these difficult times.

Source:

Kathleen G. Nadeau, PhD, Ellen B. Littman, PhD, Patricia O. Quinn, MD. Understanding Girls with AD/HD. Advantage Books. Washington, DC. 2006.

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