Stimulant drug may help women cope with post-menopausal memory lapses

Estrogen is important to normal executive brain function. After menopause, ADHD-like symptoms may be experienced. The researchers had some success with an ADHD drug, in relieving these symptoms.

Dr. Epperson's study enrolled 30 women between the ages of 48 and 60 who had experienced a diminished ability to focus and multi-task in their early post-menopausal years. The cohort was made up of successful women -- none of whom were more than five years post-menopause.

"We believe estradiol, a form of estrogen, is very important in normal brain function, specifically in the pre-frontal cortex, which regulates executive function -- organization, recall, memory and other cognitive functions," Epperson says. "Its decline during the menopausal years, we believe, can play a role in the simultaneous decline in executive function that many women experience during the menopause transition. More specifically, estrogen plays a role in dopamine levels and the brain's normal dopaminergic tone. "We theorize that this process can result in symptoms similar to those experienced by people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."

The double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study gave participants a four week regimen of LDX (which has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD) as well as four weeks of placebo to assess the drug's effectiveness in reducing subjective, new-onset executive function difficulties, and improving performance on verbal recall, working memory and attention tasks.

Preliminary data show that all executive function domains, except managing affective interference, showed a significant reduction in severity of symptoms during active LDX treatment versus treatment with placebo.

... some individuals experienced no improvement with LDX,...

"We know that estradiol treatment is helpful in only a subset of the population of menopausal women with cognitive and mood complaints and for many women estradiol treatment is not an option due to their medical history. [emphasis mine]

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