PMDD and ADHD : A Dual Challenge

If you’ve ever jumbled a puzzle, you’d understand how challenging it can be to piece together the myriad symptoms of PMDD and ADHD, especially when they exist simultaneously. Being an enthusiast who’s traveled this journey and advised countless others, I’d love to guide you through this labyrinth of emotions, distractions, and therapies.

Introduction – PMDD and ADHD

Remember those evenings when you’d sit on the couch, endlessly scrolling, losing focus, while battling a whirlwind of emotions? Maybe you blamed it on a stressful day or an impending period, but it could be more than that. Dive in with me, as we unwrap the complexities of both PMDD and ADHD.

Understanding PMDD

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, commonly known as PMDD, is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While many menstruating individuals experience some form of discomfort or mood changes before the onset of their menstrual period, those with PMDD face symptoms that are especially intense and can significantly disrupt their daily lives.

PMDD is characterized by pronounced mood disturbances, which can include depression, irritability, and tension. In addition to these emotional symptoms, PMDD might be accompanied by physical symptoms similar to PMS, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain.

The exact cause of PMDD remains unclear, but it’s believed that the disorder is linked to hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. These hormonal shifts might affect neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, which plays a key role in mood regulation. Science hasn’t given us a definitive cause yet, but there’s a consensus about hormonal changes being the primary culprits. Remember those mood swings or a burst of acne? That’s your hormones talking. External factors like trauma, age, and particularly high-stress levels can be triggers. Believe me, it’s not ‘just in your head’.

Treatment for PMDD can vary based on the individual and the severity of the symptoms. Common approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutritional supplements, lifestyle changes, and certain medications, including some antidepressants that help regulate serotonin levels.

It’s essential for those suspecting they might have PMDD to consult with a healthcare professional. Proper diagnosis and management can make a significant difference in the quality of life for individuals with this condition. Let’s explore ADHD before we explore the overlaps of PMDD and ADHD

ADHD Unveiled

What is ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults, though it often begins in childhood. ADHD is characterized by patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that are more severe, and frequent, and interfere more with daily life than those seen in typical developmental stages. Far from the stereotype of a hyperactive child, ADHD is a spectrum. Picture your mind as a web browser with 50 open tabs. That’s ADHD for many.

Symptoms and Types

Three main types dominate – Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and a combination of both. The symptoms vary from forgetfulness, and getting easily distracted, to restlessness, impatience, and more. Understanding the nuances between them can make a world of difference in management.

The Overlap Between PMDD & ADHD

Shared Symptoms

It’s a quagmire when you’re trying to differentiate between PMDD and ADHD symptoms since many of them, especially mood disturbances, can appear strikingly similar. Have you ever felt utterly drained, mentally fogged, and irritable simultaneously? It might not be ‘just one of those days’.

How They Can Exacerbate Each Other

PMDD isn’t just about the physical pain; it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. Add ADHD to the mix, and you have a tempest. PMDD can turn ADHD symptoms up to eleven, and vice versa. Imagine being unable to focus due to ADHD and then having PMDD fueling that restlessness. Exhausting, isn’t it?

Navigating the Dual Diagnosis

Treatment Options

Both conditions have a range of treatments. For PMDD, antidepressants (ranging from $20-$400 per month depending on the brand and insurance) can be effective. ADHD often requires a combination of stimulant medications and behavioral therapies. But remember, what works for one might not for another.

Lifestyle Changes

Both PMDD and ADHD can benefit tremendously from a structured routine. It sounds tedious, but incorporating regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices can be transformative. Think of it as nurturing your body and mind.

My Top Product Recommendations

  1. Period Trackers: Apps like ‘Flo’ or ‘Clue’ (free with in-app purchases) can help you monitor PMDD symptoms.
  2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Platforms like ‘Headspace’ or ‘Calm’ are fantastic for both conditions, promoting relaxation and focus.
  3. Task Management Tools: ‘Use Motion‘, ‘Trello’ or ‘Todoist’ are a boon for ADHD, helping manage tasks and priorities.

Facing the World with PMDD and ADHD

It’s not easy to step into the world when you’re constantly juggling the symptoms of both PMDD and ADHD. Every activity, be it professional tasks or personal chores, feels like climbing a mountain. But remember, every mountaineer started with a single step. It’s okay to ask for help, to lean on support, and most importantly, to prioritize yourself. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary.


Life with PMDD and ADHD might not be a walk in the park, but it’s also not a dead end. With awareness, support, and the right strategies, the journey can become not just bearable, but also meaningful. Every challenge faced, every hurdle overcome, adds to the tapestry of your unique story.


1. Can a person grow out of ADHD? While some symptoms may diminish with age, many adults continue to experience them.

2. How long does it take for PMDD treatments to work? Some treatments can show effects within a month, but others might take longer. Always consult with a healthcare professional.

3. Can ADHD medications worsen PMDD? Some people report intensified emotional symptoms on ADHD meds, making PMDD seem worse. It’s crucial to discuss any changes with a psychiatrist.

4. Are there non-medication strategies for managing ADHD? Absolutely! Behavioral therapy, coaching, lifestyle changes, and certain diets can be beneficial.

5. Are there any support groups for people with both PMDD and ADHD? Many online communities and local groups offer support for those battling both conditions. You’re never alone in this journey.

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Doctor Harneet

In the ADHD Knowledge Hub, I share insights inspired by my personal journey with ADHD and my experience as a mother to a son with ADHD. My goal is to present evidence-based information, stemming from my professional background and personal understanding. My aim is to offer understanding and perspective, to assist you in navigating your own journey through ADHD.

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