ADHD Drugs Could Be New Menopause Treatment

Worried about fuzzy thinking when menopause clouds cognition?  A psychostimulant drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) may be the solution.

According to a new study, women experiencing difficulty with time management, attention, organization, memory and problem solving – often referred to as executive functions – related to menopause may find improvement with lisdexamfetamine (LDX).

The drug improved subjective and objective measures of cognitive decline commonly experienced in menopausal women. Results of the research at the University of Pennsylvania are published online in the journal Psychopharmacology.

“Reports of cognitive decline, particularly in executive functions, are widespread among menopausal women,” said lead author, C. Neill Epperson, professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness.

“There are approximately 90 million post-menopausal women living in the US alone, and with the average age of onset occurring at 52, the great majority of those women will live in the postmenopausal state for at least one-third of their lives. Therefore, promoting healthy cognitive aging among menopausal women should be a major public health goal.”

The Penn-led team administered a once-daily dose of LDX for four weeks to 32 healthy, non-ADHD-diagnosed women between the ages of 45 and 60 experiencing difficulties with executive functions as a result of mid-life onset menopause, and as measured using the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (BADDS). All participants served as their own controls by being randomly assigned to cross-over to a placebo for an additional four weeks.

The researchers found a 41 per cent overall improvement in executive functions for women receiving LDX, compared to a 17 percent improvement when taking placebo medication. There were also significant improvements in four out of the five subscales for women taking LDX: organization and motivation for work; attention and concentration; alertness, effort, and processing speed; and working memory and accessing recall.

While psychostimulants such as LDX are primarily marketed for the treatment of ADHD, they have been successful in treating cognitive complaints in some patients including postmenopausal women. They work by promoting the release of dopamine, which is impaired in ADHD and other disorders characterized by executive function problems.