ADHD & PMDD: Understanding ADHD and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Did you know that besides Premenstrual Syndrome, some women may also experience Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder? What’s more, this can happen alongside ADHD, too! How does PMDD affect ADHD? Find out here. 

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Empowering ADHD Women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can give us daily struggles and generally make our lives more challenging 🙁. Many adults with ADHD can experience difficulties sustaining attention, be caught in impulsive situations, or have trouble managing symptoms of hyperactivity. This neurodivergent disorder can also affect how we interact with others, handle our emotions, manage our time, and express ourselves.

According to statistics, the population of people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is increasing exponentially, maybe because of the availability of resources, materials, and accommodations to diagnose the condition 💹. However, examining these numbers, ADHD is most likely diagnosed in adult men (it’s three times more common in males) likely due to prominent externalizing symptoms, such as serious impulsivity problems. This is not always the case for women, as they are prone to experience ADHD symptoms that lean towards inattention and lack of focus, which can be more challenging to identify.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS

ADHD in women is less talked about ♀️. Aside from their ADHD symptoms, they tend to mask their behavioral symptoms or emotional distress, so it’s harder to identify and diagnose. This is why some women with ADHD can be overlooked or misdiagnosed with other psychological struggles.

Awareness about ADHD in women should be widely promoted to fight against the increased risk of being undiagnosed with ADHD. This is also a way to help us sustain our mental health and understand how to manage our symptoms in our everyday life 👌.

Since we want to establish awareness about ADHD in women, one of the lesser-known topics found under these keywords can be experienced by the ladies with ADHD monthly. You may not always notice it, but ADHD can correlate with your monthly period or menstruation.

ADHD Women's Struggle with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

We must first understand what Premenstrual Syndrome is and differentiate them from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and how it can affect ADHD symptoms significantly.

Premenstrual Syndrome can be a part of women's monthly cycle during their menstrual period 📅. Some PMS symptoms can be felt weeks or days before menstruation, including physical symptoms like cramps, breast tenderness, fatigue, bloating, and headaches, and emotional symptoms like irritability, depression, and mood swings. These PMS symptoms can be experienced diversely between months and can be felt differently depending on the severity. There is no exact reason these symptoms occur, but it can be due to hormonal fluctuations experienced during the menstrual cycle 🤔.

On the other hand, those who experience severe PMS may be having Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD. Severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome characterize PMDD and can disrupt a person's daily life or induce a high-stress level 😥. Severe cases of PMDD may also be linked to extreme mood swings, prevent us from having enough sleep, or cause feelings of hopelessness, depression, or despair.

Though PMS and PMDD can be easily mistaken for each other because of the similar PMS and PMDD symptoms that they can cause, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder can give a more profound experience in managing mental health-related symptoms as it can cause extreme mood swings, intense sadness, or hopelessness, sensory overload or irritability and anxiety or depression 😭.

When Do We Expect These PMDD Symptoms to Occur?

Though there is no exact date to tell when these extreme PMS symptoms will occur, hormonal changes might trigger these PMDD symptoms during ovulation and menstruation 🩸. Most women with PMDD experience symptoms during the luteal phase or right before they start their period. 

Days before the start of the menstrual cycle, hormone-related mood issues  may start to manifest and affect the people around you. Relationship struggles with your significant other, friends, or colleagues might get rough during these times, especially when they are unaware of your emotional sensitivity or struggle 😞.

Symptoms of PMDD can occur days leading up to menstruation

Food cravings may also affect how dopamine, a type of brain chemicals, can be produced. An adult ADHD brain needs these same chemicals to function well. During this phase, we tend to be more impulsive and find it hard to focus or concentrate on something for a long time unless our cravings are satisfied 😋.

Since PMDD symptoms only happen days before a woman's menstrual cycle, the condition may dissipate once menstruation begins. The struggle brought on by the PMDD symptoms can be eased as the body adjusts to hormone balance and regulation. However, our relationship during our gloomy days or the money 💸 we spend to satisfy our cravings may not be brought back anymore.

Statistics For Both PMS and PMDD

While Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder shares the same symptoms as Premenstrual Syndrome, the prevalence of women who experience PMDD is significantly lower 👌. According to psychiatric research, around 20 to 40% of the women population with premenstrual symptoms tend to experience some symptoms of PMS, but only 2-8% of women have PMDD. This means that fewer women experience more severe symptoms that can be related to changes in hormone levels.

PMDD is less common but more severe

However, even though the statistics tell us that PMDD might be rare, the occurrence of PMDD is still high enough to be considered a mental health condition. We must learn about PMDD to prevent ourselves from judging our feelings, as emotions tend to get the best of us during these times. Also, by being aware of the imminent mood disorder we might develop during this period, we can have our management strategies in place and discover our treatment options in case we need professional help 🙂.

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How ADHD and PMDD Can Be Related?

Since ADHD and PMS symptoms and other worse symptoms experienced by women having their menstruation can be confused easily, the possibility of misdiagnosis is always present 🙁. Some adults with ADHD symptoms can be mistaken for PMDD or vice versa, as both share similar traits. And as we might already know, having an ADHD diagnosis in women can be much more complicated because of the overlapping ADHD symptoms and severe PMS symptoms, in addition to our masking behavior, inattentive ADHD traits, or any other coexisting disorders.

People with PMDD can also have ADHD

Overlapping Usual ADHD Symptoms and PMDD

Since we want to spread awareness about ADHD, it is essential to discuss possible symptoms that may occur in both ADHD and PMDD to come up with a better treatment plan without compromising the other coexisting condition.

Symptoms of PMDD

Impulse Control and Impulsive Behaviors

ADHD and PMDD can take a toll on our impulsivity 😨, making us binge eat food that can quickly satisfy our cravings, like sweets or salty foods. These overlapping conditions can also cause impulsive behaviors such as impulse buying or taking risks without thinking twice about the consequences our actions may bring.

Mood Swing and Emotional Dysregulation

A lot of women with ADHD may get emotional days before their menstrual cycle starts. However, there are moments when difficult instances, such as conflicts or confrontations 💢, can challenge us to handle our emotions. Also, being easily irritated can be experienced by certain populations of those with ADHD diagnosis and PMDD.

Difficulties to Concentrate

As our red days are approaching, we feel inattentive and easily distracted, just like some people with ADHD usually feel. We can experience "brain fog" and difficulty focusing on our tasks 💫. For many people with ADHD, inattention can be brought about by our challenges in executive function, but for PMDD, the inattention is related to the hormones released during the menstrual cycle.

Fatigue and Struggles in Relaxation

Some women with ADHD and PMDD can experience extreme fatigue due to the lack of energy in their bodies 🪫. We might struggle to fall asleep, which can bring more tiredness during the day. Struggling to relax is also a symptom that both conditions may share; it can be difficult for us to take time off from our lives — whether it be because of anxiety-induced overthinking or possibly because of the stress that we feel because of varying estrogen levels.

Managing ADHD and PMDD Symptoms

How do we handle difficulties brought by ADHD diagnosis coupled with PMDD symptoms? Aside from spreading information and sharing experiences with support groups for ADHD, we can also manage our conditions differently. Here are some of the things you can do to overcome worse symptoms of ADHD and PMDD:

Managing both ADHD and PMDD can be challenging
  • Tracking Menstrual Cycles 🩸 - having a record of your menstrual cycles can help you identify when PMDD symptoms could be worse. Knowing this information can assist you in managing expectations and planning ahead of time to ensure that your condition will not take a toll on you.
  • Stress Management 🧘- since PMDD can be induced by stress and anxiety, it is essential to have some support system to assist us when needed. Having someone to talk to about our concerns and fears may help reduce the symptoms of both conditions. Managing stress caused by these symptoms can be as simple as taking deep breathing exercises to do activities like yoga or mindfulness.
  • Self-Care 💄- self-care is always essential, especially when dealing with overlapping conditions like ADHD and PMDD. Taking a few minutes daily to relax and unwind can help us manage our symptoms better. Schedule a day to pamper yourself or your loved ones; it can even help you stay productive.
  • Lifestyle Changes 🏃 - making lifestyle changes can also help us manage our overlapping conditions. For instance, having a healthy and balanced diet can make us feel better and get enough exercise to keep our bodies active. Keeping our minds off our worries and focusing on self-care practices can benefit the long run.
  • Proper Treatment Plan 📔 - getting the correct diagnosis can help us develop the best treatment plan for managing our conditions. We can talk to a doctor or a mental health professional about our struggles and how to deal with them better.
  • Therapy and Medication 💊 - therapy and medication can help manage our symptoms for both conditions. For ADHD, your doctor might recommend cognitive-behavioral therapies or medications to help us focus better on tasks. Meanwhile, for PMDD, a combination of therapy and hormonal treatments, such as birth control pills, may be necessary to relieve the symptoms appropriately. Stimulant medications can also help manage your symptoms, depending on your doctor's prescription.

As for the final thoughts about ADHD and PMDD, understanding our conditions and their symptoms can help us better control our lives. With proper support, we can manage both conditions efficiently without allowing them to take over. Knowing when to seek help is essential in caring for ourselves, especially when dealing with overlapping conditions like ADHD and PMDD. Despite these challenges, we can lead a fulfilling life. As long as we focus on self-care and learn different strategies for managing our conditions, nothing can stop us from living our best lives. We just need the right tools and support system to help us succeed. And always remember, you are not alone 💗


What’s the difference between Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

remenstrual Syndrome is a set of physical and emotional symptoms a woman may experience a week or so before their menstrual period. Symptoms include breast tenderness, bloating, changes in eating and sleeping habits and mood swings. PDD have similar symptoms but include extreme mood shifts that can disrupt life and relationships.

How is ADHD and PDD connected?

ADHD may have some symptoms that overlap with PDD. This can cause confusion when it comes to diagnosis, particularly since women often have symptoms of inattention, which are already challenging to observe.

What’s the best way to treat ADHD and PDD?

The best way to treat ADHD and PDD is to get a thorough consultation with your doctor. Together, he or she can give you an accurate diagnosis and devise a sustainable treatment plan for your symptoms, whether it’s ADHD, PDD, or both.

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