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Managing ADHD in Women: Navigating your Monthly Cycle.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often associated with children, but it's essential to recognise that it affects adults, including women. It's characterised by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty with organization and time management.

Symptoms of ADHD can often present differently in women. Whilst men tend to display more ‘obvious’ symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour girls and women often present with more internalised symptoms such as inattentiveness or disorganisation. Unfortunately, historically this has led to women and girls being underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as anxiety or depression, which can delay appropriate treatment.

For women with ADHD, there is another unique factor to consider – the menstrual cycle. The hormonal fluctuations throughout the month can impact ADHD symptoms.

How does ADHD affect women and how can nutrition and lifestyle choices help manage symptoms throughout the menstrual cycle?

Women with ADHD often exhibit unique symptoms and challenges, which can be influenced by hormonal changes. Some common symptoms in women include:

Emotional dysregulation: Women with ADHD may experience intense mood swings, emotional sensitivity, and difficulty managing stress during their menstrual cycle.

Forgetfulness: Hormonal fluctuations can affect memory and concentration, making forgetfulness more prevalent during certain phases of the menstrual cycle.

Time management: Planning and managing time efficiently can become more challenging as ADHD symptoms intensify during the menstrual cycle.

A woman's menstrual cycle consists of various phases, each marked by hormonal shifts. These hormonal changes can have a profound impact on ADHD symptoms.

Menstrual Phase

During your period, oestrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. This can lead to improved focus and concentration for some women with ADHD.

Follicular Phase

As oestrogen begins to rise, women may notice improved mood and better executive functioning skills. This phase is often associated with creativity and increased energy.

Ovulatory Phase

Hormones are at their peak during ovulation. While this can enhance emotional well-being, it may also lead to impulsivity and hyperactivity in women with ADHD.

Luteal Phase

In the premenstrual phase, oestrogen levels drop, and progesterone rises. This can exacerbate emotional dysregulation, anxiety, and distractibility.

While ADHD can present challenges, women can take steps to manage their symptoms effectively. Certain foods can help support cognitive function and manage ADHD symptoms.

Consider incorporating these foods into your diet to support your cycle:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon and flaxseeds, omega-3s support brain health and can improve focus and memory.

  • Protein: Include lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and tofu to help stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain focus.

  • Complex Carbohydrates: opt for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which provide a steady release of energy and help sustain attention.

  • Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, spinach, and nuts, protect brain cells from damage and promote cognitive function.

Managing your lifestyle can also significantly impact ADHD symptoms.

  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity releases endorphins that improve mood and reduce symptoms of ADHD.

  • Sleep: Prioritize sleep to enhance cognitive function and emotional well-being.

  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to manage emotional dysregulation.

  • Time Management: Use planners, apps, or timers to structure your day and manage time effectively.

ADHD in women is a unique and often under-recognised condition. By understanding how the menstrual cycle can impact symptoms, women can take a more targeted approach to managing their ADHD.

Please contact me if you would like some more personalised nutritional advice about you can use food to help to support ADHD symptoms throughout your cycle.

Click below to book in for a free mini consultation.

Managing ADHD in Women: Navigating your Monthly Cycle.

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