Is It Menopause, ADHD, or Both?

Roxanne Fouché was honored to be interviewed by Ellen Dolgen, Menopause Awareness expert, for her blog post, “Is It Menopause, ADHD, or Both?”  Below is the post that can also be seen on Ellen’s website at http://ow.ly/n4uHo.  The blog post was also published by Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-sarver-dolgen/brain-fog_b_3605867.html) under the title, “What’s to Blame For Your Brain Fog: Menopause or ADHD?”

IS IT MENOPAUSE, ADHD, OR BOTH? by Ellen Dolgen

Where are my keys? If it’s the umpteenth time you’ve asked that question today, you’re undoubtedly frustrated. Chances are you want to find the cause—and fix it before you go and lose your keys again!

If you are in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, there are a few possibilities worth considering: Of course, there’s perimenopause and menopause, which are both infamous for an inability to focus and memory loss. In fact, a new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that many women experience cognitive changes during menopause. (Watch Ellen on the TODAY Show discussing the study!)

But then there’s also Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its own unique brand of spacey behavior. Not just for kids, about 4.4 percent of adults in the United States show symptoms of the neurobiological disorder, according to one study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

So which one has got the best of your brain, or is it both? It’s a question women should seriously ask themselves when seeking hormone happiness, according to ADHD coach and consultant Roxanne Fouché, co-founder of the San Diego-based Focus For Effectiveness.

While it’s commonly believed that ADHD is more common in boys than in girls, the truth of the matter is that females are often victims of missed diagnoses during childhood, according to Fouché. “Because girls and women tend to be  less hyperactive and have more inattentive symptoms, women often go undiagnosed until their 30s, 40s, or later when there is a widening gap between life’s demands and the individual’s abilities to focus, organize or complete tasks,” she says.

What’s more, perimenopause and menopause is a critical time for physicians to catch ADHD in their female patients. Why? Estrogen levels decrease during this time, contributing to an increased risk of depression, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, panic, difficulty concentrating, as well as memory and cognitive dysfunctions, according to Fouché. “Women with ADHD frequently report a worsening of their ADHD symptoms during these low-estrogen states,” she adds.

The first step is determining if your brain fog is new—or simply worse than it was before. “If a woman has only recently begun having difficulty with memory, concentration, and mental fuzziness, it may be related to menopause,” Fouché says. “If, on the other hand, these symptoms have been present since childhood and are getting worse, it is possible that the effects of declining estrogen levels make it that much more difficult for her to cope with undiagnosed ADHD.”

Either way, the solution is simple: seek a clear diagnosis and treatment. If the symptoms are new, visit a perimenopause and menopause expert who can evaluate your mental fuzziness. If they’ve always been around (just not as bad as they are now), The National Resource Center of ADHD advises that you visit a specialist who is familiar with ADHD in adult women. That could be a behavioral neurologist, psychiatrist, or clinical or educational psychologist. While there’s no one “test” to diagnose ADHD, typical evaluations include ADHD symptom checklists, standardized behavior rating scales, a discussion of past and present symptoms of ADHD, as well as information gleaned from family and significant others, according to The National Resource Center of ADHD.

Navigating both perimenopause and menopause? Fouché suggests addressing your variety of symptoms by developing a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan that includes:

  • Use of medications, if deemed appropriate by your physician. Stimulants (including Ritalin and Adderall) balance neurotransmitters in the brain to improve the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. Non-stimulant medications such as Strattera and antidepressants may be good options if you can’t take stimulants because of existing heart problems, according to Mayo Clinic.
  • Consultation with a perimenopause and menopause expert. Bio-identical hormone-replacement therapy and lifestyle modifications can ease menopausal symptoms and help you achieve hormone happiness.
  • Focus on self-care. Women often take care of everyone else in their lives before they get to themselves. But by putting yourself first—getting regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet you can alleviate many symptoms of both ADHD and menopause to get your mojo back.(Check out the best foods for fighting menopausal symptoms.)
  • Professional support and guidance. A licensed psychologist, an organizational expert, a certified ADHD coach—or any combination of the three—can help you sort through the brain clutter. Find an ADHD coach specializing in ADHD  through the ADHD Coaches Organization.

For us women, there’s little in life that’s more frustrating than Swiss cheese brain. We’ve got things to do and people to see, after all! Lucky for our minds, schedule, and keys, help is just around the corner. All you have to do is reach out!

An Open Letter from Dr. Thomas E. Brown

On July 22, 2013, Dr. Thomas Brown, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Director, Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders,  published an open letter expressing his concern about recent FDA approval of a diagnostic device for ADHD that is not adequately supported by research and may become a barrier to diagnosis for some.

This open letter to Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration, begins:

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

On July 15, 2013, your agency issued a press release reporting that the “FDA permits marketing of the first brain wave test to help assess children and teens for ADHD.” In this action your agency, apparently on the basis of a single unpublished study of 275 children, has created significant risks for those affected with ADHD.

Dr. Brown goes on to discuss the risk of giving undue weight to data from such a device at the expense of careful assessment of “how the individual functions in meeting the multiple demands of daily life.”

Bravo, Dr. Brown!

Read more at: http://www.drthomasebrown.com/an-open-letter-from-dr-brown-expressing-concern-about-a-recent-fda-action-related-to-adhd-2/

What Went Well – and Why?

Here is a sneak peek at another one of Roxanne Fouché’s contributions to More Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Even More Strategies for 2013 from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts to Help You Succeed with ADHD:

Many people find it difficult to focus on what is working vs. the things that are not going well.  But it is important to understand and acknowledge our strengths and triumphs because they are the foundation upon which we build success.  Research in positive psychology has shown that it is very helpful to acknowledge what is going right in our lives.  At the end of the day, write down 3 – 5 things that answer the question:  What Went Well – and Why?  Focusing on the “wins” of the day and your part in allowing them to happen helps you repeat those actions for continued success.  The added bonus is that when you know that you are going to be writing what went well (and why), it shifts your focus so that you are actively looking for the positives throughout the day.

How Change REALLY Happens

Here’s a sneak peek at a tip that Roxanne Fouché contributed to the upcoming book, More Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Even More Strategies for 2013 from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts to Help You Succeed with ADHD:

When we want to make a change in our lives, it’s helpful to plan what we want to do, think about the value of that change, and decide how we want to accomplish our goal.  Adequate preparation for a change includes designing small, doable steps, sharing our intentions with others (so we have an accountability partners), as well as anticipating potential obstacles and how we might want to deal with them.

 

It’s also helpful to know that change is not straight forward, moving seamlessly from contemplation to action.  Rather, studies have shown that backtracking is a common part of the change process, allowing us to learn from the experience and figure out what got in the way.  This learning through trial and error allows us to gain more self-knowledge from the experience, making it that much more likely that the next time we begin, we will succeed.

 

Say Again?

Here’s another one of our tips from the book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed With ADHD: A Whole New Year’s Worth of Valuable Tips and Strategies From the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts:

ADHD can get in the way of someone’s paying attention to, understanding, and/or remembering what someone else is saying.  When kids are small, parents often get their children’s attention before they speak and then ask them to repeat back what was understood.  As we get older, it’s up to us to practice good listening skills with family, friends, teachers and people at work.  We need to let someone else finish speaking before we say something (not an easy task for many of us!).  We can also ask questions to make sure we understand and remember what was said.  This could be as simple as asking for repetition (“I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”), asking clarifying questions (“So is the meeting at 10:00 or 10:30 on Tuesday?”) or confirming your understanding (“Okay, just so we’re on the same page, you want me to have this ready by the 14th.”).

 

When You Say NO, What Are You Saying YES To?

Here’s a sneak peek at one of our tips from the upcoming book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed With ADHD: A Whole New Year’s Worth of Valuable Tips and Strategies From the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts:

There will be a book launch party with extra “goodies” from the contributors for those who buy the book from on October 11, 2012. Stay tuned!

People with ADHD can find themselves saying, “yes” before they have taken the time to consider the consequences. Because time is a finite resource, for every “yes” that we offer, we are naturally saying “no” to something else. “Yes, I’ll be on the committee” means “no” to some family time; “yes” to the project means “no” to a different activity that has more potential or is more interesting. To break the habit of automatically saying “yes,” pause between someone’s request and your response so that you have time to think it through. You might say, “Hmm, interesting idea. I’ll get back to you on that.” Although it’s nice to be agreeable and to be considered a team player, sometimes “no” is the best response. When you say “no,” you are giving yourself the opportunity – and the permission – to say “yes” to something that is more important to you.

365+1 Ways To Succeed with ADHD

Sarah D. Wright and Roxanne Fouché are pleased to announce their participation as co-authors of the new book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed with ADHD.  The book is a follow up to 365 Ways to Succeed with ADHD, which became a #1 bestseller on Amazon.com in 2011.  The new book is expected to be available in September in anticipation of ADHD Awareness Week (October 14-20, 2012).

Succeeding in College

Here’s another one of the tips from our book, 365 Ways to Succeed with ADHD: A Full Year of Valuable Tips & Strategies from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches & Experts!!!

Available from Amazon.com

College can be particularly challenging for students with ADHD because academic expectations increase while there is a decrease in external structure. Students may have difficulty prioritizing competing demands on their time as there are varying class times and new daily routines. Even if it wasn’t necessary in high school, many college students find it extremely useful to use paper or digital planners to map out their days, scheduling the actual times that they plan to accomplish their goals: going to class or work, studying, eating, sleeping, laundry and other errands, exercise and/or social activities.

Book Launch!

Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 11, 2011), 365 Ways to Succeed with ADHD, a book we have helped co-author, becomes available!

Click here on Tuesday, October 11th to buy our new book!

In 365 ways to succeed with ADHD, you will learn from us, and 80 other ADHD experts, what you need to succeed with ADHD… all in bite-sized ADD-friendly format. There is a full year of tips and strategies to succeed with ADHD, written with you in mind. Within its pages is that tip or strategy you have been looking for, so don’t miss out!

Make sure you buy on Tuesday, October 11th!

Because on October 11th, 2011, and October 11th only, when you order a copy of this brand new book, you will also have access to over a thousand dollars worth of amazing bonus gifts from the co-authors themselves, including:

  • Complimentary consultations from your very own Focus For Effectiveness Coaches
  • Chapters from popular ADHD books and authors, such as Fidget to Focus, a perennial favorite on using natural strategies and techniques for managing the symptoms of ADHD by Dr. Roland Rotz and Focus For Effectiveness co-founder and coach Sarah D. Wright.
  • Your own personal Time Management Guide and Workbook
  • The 5-step Mindset Program for Success
  • MP3 recordings of the one hour Teleclasses: “Time Management Strategies for Adults with ADD / ADHD,” “How to overcome Procrastination” and “Connect with Your Teen”
  • The Seven Step Guide to Getting Control of Your Day… and Maybe Your Life!
  • Invitation to a live upcoming Teleclass to answer your ADHD questions
  • Transformational Meditation Guide for People with ADHD
  • Immediate access to download the e-books: The Keys to Getting Started and Brain Surfing and 31 other Awesome Qualities of ADHD
  • A copy of The Parenting Wheel of Life
  • The No-Nagging Guide to picking the right college for parents and students
  • And much more!

These amazing bonuses, worth over a thousand dollars, are available only when purchasing the book on Tuesday, October 11th, so make sure you follow this link on Tuesday to learn more and get your own copy of 365 Ways to Succeed with ADHD, plus all the great bonuses!

Here’s to your success!

Warmly,

Roxanne Fouché
Sarah D. Wright
Founders, Focus For Effectiveness, LLC
With locations in Encinitas and Rancho Penasquitos, San Diego County, California