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High and Low Estrogen Exacerbate ADHD Symptoms in Females: New Theory

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January 3, 2024The impact of rising and falling hormone levels on ADHD symptoms is compounded for females beginning in puberty, according to a review article published in Hormones and Behavior.

1ADHD symptoms correlate with hormonal fluctuations, especially declines in estrogen, argue the review authors, who present a new two-phase theory of hormonal sensitivity that asserts ADHD impairments spike during two points in the menstrual cycle:Per the theory, females may be more likely to engage in risk-taking and reward-seeking behaviors in the days leading up to ovulation.

These behaviors coincide with a steady rise in estrogen levels that drops off during ovulation. In contrast, withdrawal and/or depletion of estrogen at a cycle’s end may be characterized by increased negative affect, avoidant behaviors, and reduced executive functioning.The effects of estrogen withdrawal may potentially exacerbate ADHD symptoms based on inherent individual differences in affect and impulsivity.

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