PMDD and Adderall – what’s the relationship? Individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are typically prescribed Adderall, a medication that helps with attentiveness and focus. However, Adderall’s impact changes depending on a woman’s menstrual cycle condition. Women who have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) experience significant changes in how Adderall impacts their bodies and minds in the week leading up to their period — does that mean there’s a link between Adderall and PMDD?
PMDD and Adderall impact are linked because women with ADHD are more likely to experience increased PMDD symptoms than women who are not. When an ADHD woman experiencing PMDD takes Adderall to manage her ADHD symptoms, she may notice the medication less effective when pre-menstruating.
To better understand the link between PMDD and Adderall, exploring the information in depth is useful. This article focuses on research and medical information about PMDD, ADHD, and Adderall, which treats ADHD.
PMDD and Adderall
What is PMDD?
PMDD is a hormone-based disorder in which women suffer from a range of extreme symptoms during the luteal or premenstrual phase of their menstrual cycle. Some of the symptoms of PMDD include:
- Extreme mood swings, including anger and depression
- Lower than normal energy levels
- Bloating or weight gain
- Anxiety and irritability
- Lack of attention
- Apathy towards a variety of activities
PMDD affects about 3-8% of women with regular menstrual cycles. However, a study conducted in 2021 found that PMDD is more likely to impact women with ADHD. As a result, women with ADHD are more likely to suffer from symptoms of PMDD.
So, we see that there are links between women who suffer from ADHD and women who suffer from PMDD symptoms. Women who have PMDD and ADHD may also find that the Adderall they take to manage their ADHD symptoms is less effective when pre-menstruating.
This is because of premenstrual magnification and combined the impact of ADHD stimulants on a woman’s system during pre-menstruation. These two factors are explored in detail below.
The symptoms of many mental and psychiatric conditions are magnified during the late luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This condition is known as premenstrual magnification and can make the luteal phase even worse.
Women with psychiatric conditions such as ADHD may find that the impact of Adderall is reduced when they’re in the luteal phase of their cycle because premenstrual magnification is magnifying their symptoms. The dose they use when their hormone levels are regular may not be effective when their hormone levels are irregular.
Stimulants and Menstrual Cycle
As well as impacting the severity of the mental or psychiatric conditions a woman feels, the menstrual cycle may also impact the way Adderall works in a woman’s system. Preliminary preclinical studies have assessed the impact of the menstrual cycle on the effectiveness of stimulants. These studies have found that:
- The level of ovarian hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, can influence the way women react to stimulants.
- When estrogen drops, the effectiveness of Adderall reduces.
- The impact of stimulants such as Adderall is higher when women are not in the luteal (pre-menstrual) phase.
From this study, one can conclude that Adderall is less impactful when women are in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. This is even worse when a woman suffers from PMDD as their premenstrual symptoms are heightened, causing Adderall to have less impact.
In addition, women who suffer from PMDD have symptoms, including lack of attention and focus. A combination of these symptoms, ADHD, and the reduced impact of Adderall will all work together to impact the woman’s overall mental health.
PMDD and ADHD Treatments for Women
A woman with PMDD who takes Adderall must take a multi-pronged approach to treat her ADHD symptoms, especially when she is pre-menstruating. Her doctors will be able to recommend the right treatment methods.
Some of the treatment methods that doctors and psychiatrists adopt include:
- Estrogen administration
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) administration
- Administration of stimulants
There are also complementary or conservative treatment options such as:
- Vitamins and mineral supplements
- Relaxation therapy
These treatment methods are explored more in detail below.
Hormones and Medication
According to Dr. Patricia Quinn, administering estrogen to women at specific times within their menstrual cycle will help to stabilize the woman’s mood and improve her memory. This, in turn, addresses some of the symptoms of ADHD and PMDD.
At the same time, an increased estrogen level may increase the impact of Adderall on the system.
Dr. Quinn also suggests that patients may benefit from the administration of SSRIs like fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine. Studies have found that out of the total cohort of women studied, 60-75% of the women had improved PMDD symptoms.
This improvement in PMDD symptoms helps the women have a better experience of their premenstrual cycle but may be especially beneficial for women with ADHD. They’ll reduce the impact of ADHD symptoms.
Administration of Stimulants
When various treatment methods are used together, stimulants such as Adderall may be more effective for women who have PMDD and Adderall. However, it’s essential to continuously track your moods and other symptoms as you progress through your menstrual cycle to support your medical practitioners to best design your treatment.
While psychiatrists or doctors may recommend medication, they’ll also suggest complementary activities, and routine adjustments make the holistic effect of treatment stronger. Complementary treatments include taking vitamin and mineral supplements, exercise, and various forms of relaxation therapy.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Some professionals suggest that vitamin B6 can help women manage PMDD symptoms.
Omega supplements may help increase the amount of omega fatty acids in the blood, which in turn help neurons in the brain communicate with each other, reducing ADHD symptoms such as a lack of focus and impulsivity.
Before taking supplements, talk to your medical practitioner.
Engaging in exercise produces a variety of chemicals, including GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals can reduce the symptoms of ADHD, thus reducing the dependency on Adderall and other medication. Dopamine, for instance, reduces stress, depression, and anxiety which are symptoms of ADHD and PMDD.
Relaxation therapy is a conscious effort to relax the body and mind. Consistently engaging in relaxation therapy will help balance hormone levels and reduce a dependency on medication. Some beneficial forms of relaxation therapy are:
- Meditation – involves focusing the mind on a particular aspect of the present moment. It can assist in calming emotions caused by hormone imbalances and help manage other symptoms.
- Biofeedback – allows you to monitor and direct different aspects of your body’s functioning, such as heart rate and muscle contraction.
When you engage in biofeedback, you’re connected to electrical sensors that help you monitor the impact of a particular action on your body.
Biofeedback can help manage PMDD symptoms as it may help you relax particular parts of your body. It also monitors brain waves and cognitive functioning to identify strategies that help you deal with the mental repercussions of PMDD and ADHD.
Diagnosis and Consultation
While the information in this article will give you an insight into the link between PMDD, ADHD, and Adderall, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional or get a diagnosis if you have symptoms of PMDD or ADHD.
Medical professionals will refer to your holistic case history to design a treatment plan based on your individual needs. To aid your medical professional’s diagnosis, it may be helpful to collect the information you can share with them.
If you suspect you have ADHD, you can track or reflect on whether you:
- Have a limited or poor ability to manage daily household tasks
- Have a history of low academic or career success and performance
- Unable to focus on a task for more than a few minutes at a time
- Quickly get upset or forget important things
If you suspect you have PMDD, as well as trying to understand whether you have PMDD symptoms, you can do the following:
- Track your moods at different stages of your menstrual cycle
- Track the onset of your menstrual cycle
- Identify the areas and levels of pain you have during or before your menstrual cycle
Bring these observations and trackers to your medical professionals, who, depending on your symptoms or analysis, may be able to issue you with a diagnosis.
If you’re diagnosed with ADHD and PMDD, you may be consulting with different doctors. For instance, you may consult with a psychiatrist to address your ADHD and a gynecologist to address your PMDD. It’ll be essential to present both doctors with the information on your diagnoses and possibly even connect them to consult with each other.
It’s essential to take a holistic and informed approach when managing PMDD and ADHD.
The impact of Adderall and other stimulants on a woman’s ADHD symptoms can be significantly impacted by her menstrual cycle. This is especially the case for women who suffer from PMDD, as symptoms can be heightened and the impact of the medication can be reduced.
However, a holistic treatment plan designed in consultation with a medical practitioner can address this impact and its consequences.