It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is Anxiety. Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem. Being both perimenopausal and also neurodivergent then anxiety is something I struggle with almost daily. So what’s the connection between ADHD, Perimenopause and anxiety in women?
ADHD, Menopause and Anxiety: A Personal Story
I’ve been living with anxiety for longer than I can remember, diagnosed with anxiety when I was just 19 years old. I am still awaiting a formal diagnosis of ADHD, at 48 years of age and have been perimenopausal for approx 7 years now.
ADHD and anxiety can be very difficult conditions to live with. It can make it hard to focus, pay attention, control your impulses, and manage your emotions.
With menopause, I’ve been experiencing a variety of symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and anxiety. But anxiety has definitely been the hardest symptom to deal with. I’ve always been a worrier, but it’s gotten worse since menopause. I worry about everything, from work to my finances to my boys.
I’ve experienced all of the above myself. I struggle with RSD (Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria) and Imposter Syndrome, I’ve had difficulty reaching my full potential in jobs, and I’ve had problems with previous relationships. I’ve also struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.
I’m not alone in my experience. According to a study by the British Menopause Society, 70% of women experience anxiety during menopause, and about half of adults with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.
There are a few things that I’ve been doing to cope with my anxiety. I’ve been taking a probiotic & stress supplement which has been life-changing, and helped to reduce my stress levels and with disturbed sleep. I’ve also been very mindful of what I eat, how much I drink and just in making sure I don’t take on too much.
Statistics about ADHD, menopause and Anxiety in the UK
- According to the NHS, about 5% of children and adolescents in the UK have ADHD.
- About half of adults with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the UK, affecting about 1 in 4 adults.
- 70% of women experience anxiety during menopause.
- Anxiety is the most common mental health symptom during menopause.
- Anxiety can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Having trouble sleeping
- Having trouble concentrating
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Having physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or sweating
- Anxiety can have a significant impact on a woman’s life, affecting her work, relationships, and overall quality of life.
My Experience with ADHD and Anxiety
I can remember being a very fidgety and restless child. I had trouble sitting still in class and had a hard time paying attention, I would often daydream in class. My teachers always told me to focus, but I just couldn’t do it.
As I figured out coping skills and masked my issues better, things started to improve. I was able to focus better in class, and I wasn’t getting into trouble. But even with all that in place, I still struggled with anxiety. I would worry about everything, and really struggle with my emotional regulation.
As I got older, my anxiety got worse, especially around hormonal ‘blips’ (puberty, childbirth, time of the month etc.). I started to have trouble sleeping, and I would often have nightmares. When the perimenopause kicked in I started to have panic attacks more frequently.
This time last year I was at a really low point in my life. I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt like I had failed, and I didn’t know how to get everything back on track.
How I Manage My ADHD and Anxiety
I’m not going to lie, it’s still hard for me to manage my ADHD and anxiety at times. But I’ve learned a few things that have helped me.
- I’m very open about my ADHD and anxiety. I talk to my friends, family, and followers about it. It really helps me to feel less alone and more understood.
- I’ve learned to set realistic expectations for myself. I know that I’m not going to be able to do everything perfectly, and that’s okay. I just need to focus on doing my best.
- I’ve found healthy ways to cope with my anxiety. I spend more time with fewer people, I say no to situations I’m not comfortable in, and I try to look after myself as much as possible. These activities help me to relax and de-stress.
- I’m also taking supplements and medication for my ADHD and anxiety, and I ask for reasonable adjustments. This helps me to manage my symptoms and function better in my daily life.
It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It
Living with ADHD, menopause and anxiety is not easy. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are people who understand what you’re going through, and there are resources available to help you.
If you’re struggling with ADHD, menopause or anxiety, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There is no shame in asking for help, and it could make a big difference in your life.
Here are some resources that can help:
- The NHS website has information about ADHD and anxiety: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/
- The charity ADHD UK has information and support for people with ADHD: https://www.adhduk.co.uk/
- The charity Anxiety UK has information and support for people with anxiety: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
- Balance, making menopause support inclusive and accessible to everyone – Homepage (balance-menopause.com)
I hope this blog post has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.