You may have seen some recent stats circulating on social media about the prevalence of those with PMDD who also have ADHD and/or autism. A popular news article stated that “PMDD disproportionately affects people with ADHD and autism, with up to 92% of autistic women and 46% of women with ADHD experiencing PMDD, though estimates vary.”
Unfortunately, these statistics are not based on research that can really tell us that information.
Why...? We will take a look at the two studies mentioned in this article:
The ADHD stats mentioned in this article come from a retrospective report study only.
This means people are asked about their perceptions of how the cycle affects them, and prior research shows this is only correct about 40% of the time. This is in contrast to a prospective daily study (where people document their symptoms each day across multiple cycles), and effects can be analyzed — prospective daily ratings are also the only way to have confirmed diagnosis of PMDD. Larger studies with prospective methods are needed to give estimates of PMDD/PME rates.
That said, the fact that many people with ADHD perceive an effect on symptoms from their cycle suggests this needs to be studied more and better! There is currently at least one ongoing study using prospective methods to assess cycle effects on ADHD, and we will share those results when available.
The quoted Autism stats come from a study that did use prospective methods; however, it is a very small study which looked at only 26 people. This suggests that rates of PMDD may indeed be elevated in autistic people, but large studies (usually several hundred people at least) would be needed to have a strong sense of the prevalence rates. In larger samples it is possible the rates could end up fairly different from what was found in this smaller study.
More research is needed in both these areas.