ADHD or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in women needs to be diagnosed much earlier in life. If it isn’t, the condition may be misunderstood as a byproduct of women’s attempts to keep up with the hustle-culture of capitalism and the expectations of patriarchal society to be a “superwoman” in both the workplace and the home. When you combine that with the fact that our phones have become increasingly like an appendage that interrupts us, it is easy to see how this could become a cause for significant concern.
Nevertheless, in today’s world, we are aware that, in addition to the gender role expectations and cultural norms that may play a role, there are also biological reasons why women may report having symptoms of ADHD.
In the past, this was thought to be a problem primarily affecting boys and men, with women and their specific experiences, such as the fluctuation of their hormones throughout their lives, being an afterthought. It’s high time we made a change like that. It’s time we stopped letting women suffer in silence and confusion while they figure out how to get through life the hard way.
Let’s have a look at the following five important facts about ADHD in women that you should be aware of:
Table Of Contents
ADHD In Women – Key Facts To Know
ADHD symptoms in women are not noticed easily. Hence you need to know certain key facts to recognize.
- Women are less likely to show external symptoms like hyperactivity or impulsivity, and hence go undiagnosed, preferring instead to internalize and disguise their symptoms (hypersensitivity, rumination, diverting thoughts).
- As a result of social pressure, women with ADHD may try too hard to please others or achieve perfection in their work.
- Brain fog, memory issues, increased agitation, and inability to complete tasks are all symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that can appear in women for the first time or worsen throughout perimenopause and menopause.
- Without proper diagnosis and treatment, women with ADHD may resort to self-defeating coping mechanisms like binge eating, casual sexual encounters, excessive spending, and mental health issues.
- Untreated ADHD in women is associated with increased vulnerability to emotional distress, including difficulties in interpersonal relationships, feelings of worthlessness, and social exclusion.
ADHD In Women: Common Signs And Symptoms
Symptoms of ADHD in women stem from executive dysfunction.
They have three subtypes: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and mixed. Subtypes depend on symptoms. Each subtype has nine symptoms. You must have six subtype symptoms for six months to have it. Six symptoms from each subtype must endure more than six months for the mixed subtype.
Inattentive Symptoms Of ADHD In Women
ADHD in women symptoms is more likely to be the inattentive type than the hyperactive or impulsive type.
Symptoms of inattention might make it difficult to focus on tasks at hand or maintain meaningful relationships. If you’ve been experiencing at least six of the following symptoms for at least six months, you may have the inattentive subtype of ADHD.
- You make careless mistakes because you tend to zone out.
- You struggle to maintain concentration and attention.
- You have a tendency to “zone out” or “thousand-yard stare” when other people are speaking, giving the impression that you are not paying attention.
- You have no issue getting things started, but you struggle to see them through to the end.
- There is a lack of organization and prioritization on your part (especially with projects or tasks that involve multiple steps).
- You try to avoid or avoid doing uninteresting or tiresome things like busy work, chores, or paperwork.
- You have a bad habit of misplacing or forgetting where you put items.
- You have a hard time focusing on a single thing, either because of external stimuli or internal monologue.
- You tend to be absentminded or forgetful in your regular activities, which can lead to missed appointments, unpaid payments, etc.
Diagnosing ADHD In Women
Most people wrongly assume that only hyperactive boys are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Women are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood than men are because the way it presents in women does not fit this stereotype. Several factors account for this:
- Women are far more likely than men to keep their symptoms to themselves. Girls are more likely to display symptoms like impulsivity and disorganization than boys. In many cases, these symptoms go unnoticed by loved ones, who consequently are less likely to seek medical attention.
- Females are less likely to be evaluated for ADHD than males because their symptoms of ADHD are less disruptive.
- Some research suggests that females with ADHD may be able to lessen the impact of the disorder by learning to cope with it in ways that men cannot. When it comes to staying on top of things, many people will go to extremes, such as making lists. While this approach is effective, it also greatly increases the likelihood that a doctor will miss a diagnosis.
Your doctor, typically a psychologist or psychiatrist, can diagnose you with ADHD. For this purpose, it is common practice to inquire about the onset and duration of any symptoms experienced. Healthcare providers may also use standardized questionnaires developed specifically for the purpose of diagnosing ADHD. ADHD cannot be diagnosed through conventional medical or laboratory means.
Treatment For ADHD In Women
Women with ADHD need to know that it can’t be cured. Nonetheless, medication is an effective means of control. Medication is an important component of the therapy process. There are also several types of psychotherapy that are utilized frequently. In addition to helping with ADHD, therapy is useful for treating other mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, which frequently occur together with ADHD.
There are a few distinct classes of medicines that are available for the treatment of ADHD. Medication that alters the amounts of particular neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that your brain utilizes for communication, is typically what we mean when we talk about these types of drugs. However, due to fear of complications and side effects, you may have to stay alert and discuss things with your physician accordingly.
Coping With Symptoms Of ADHD
Women with ADHD, instead of feeling guilty or trying to be perfect, can learn to live with it by following these steps.
Listen to that inner critic and correct it when it’s wrong
As women with ADHD, we may get so habituated to negative self-talk that we no longer even notice when it occurs. But, the damaging impacts of these beliefs persist even when we are not consciously aware of them. Make these ideas visible, face them head-on, and disprove them wherever you can.
Don’t ignore your inner monologue the next time you screw up. If you find yourself telling yourself things like “I’m so stupid” or “I can’t do anything right,” stop. Remember that you gave it your all and did the best you could in the situation. You should think of a lesson you’ve learned that will help you avoid making the same mistake twice. Next, you should make an attempt to get the bad idea out of your mind. Acknowledging negative ideas and then kindly showing them the door will help you gain insight and reclaim some of your lost power, but it won’t happen quickly.
Observe the 5×5 rule
Do you constantly criticize your every move? If that’s the case, try using the “5×5 rule” A mistake isn’t worth more than five minutes of your time if you won’t remember it in five years. Have you ever accidentally ruined a friend’s carpet with a wine spill? Don’t spend days and days brooding over something that neither of you will remember five years from now. Five minutes of feeling whatever shame, anger, or fear you want to feel is fine; then, try to let it go.
Obviously, it’s not easy or always possible to let go of anger. Rather than a strict set of rules that must be adhered to at all times, the 5×5 system should be seen as a guideline or benchmark to be reached.
While you sleep, your brain flushes out harmful chemicals, which improves your ability to think and feel rationally. It’s not worth it to put off sleep so you can finish more. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can get more done at night because there are fewer interruptions. Find a relaxing way to wind down before bed. If you need to feel safe and secure, a weighted blanket can help. When you turn on the white noise machine, your brain will be less likely to react to sounds while you sleep.
Change your perspective on your symptoms
Many women find that learning more about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) helps them feel more in control of their symptoms. Nevertheless, learning more about the negative effects and outcomes of ADHD can be exhausting. Reframing your most problematic symptoms as positives can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by scary stories about ADHD and grim statistics about the disorder. Impulsive? Thus, you act on the spur of the moment. Distracted easily? That’s because you’re able to see details that most people with their heads down miss.
Having these symptoms does not mean they will no longer affect your life or provide obstacles. If you have ADHD, it might be easy to focus only on the challenges that this condition presents. Nevertheless, by making an effort to recognize the benefits of having ADHD, you can better understand your own abilities, peculiarities, and the systems and methods that will serve you best.
Pursue Your Goals
Once upon a time, when you were a little girl, what did you envision yourself doing with your life? What about when you were a young person with high hopes and expectations? While it’s common to lose sight of childhood ambitions as we get older, keeping in touch with that part of ourselves is important for women with ADHD who are striving to improve their lives.
Try remembering some of your long-lost aspirations and then taking baby steps toward making them come true. Do not take this as an encouragement to abandon your day job in pursuit of a career in ballet. It can be as simple as borrowing a book from the library; maybe you’ve found a renewed enthusiasm for oceanography. That might involve doing something like joining a recreational sports team or arranging a trip to an exotic locale. Do whatever you need to do to pave the way for better chances and to reach your full potential.
It’s common for women with ADHD to put on masks to conceal their underlying characteristics. While internally we may be screaming, we put on a happy face and act as though everything is fine. It’s draining to constantly mask who we really are, but we often feel trapped.
It takes practice to live without pretense, excuses, or pretense. Some people really benefit from going to therapy or working with a life coach. The simple act of accepting oneself — flaws and all — is enough to boost confidence in some people. Take comfort in the fact that you can get by just fine without being “fixed,” regardless of your chosen course of action. We’re more than our flaws and ADD/ADHD symptoms combined, and we’re amazing, genuine women. Have faith in what you’re doing, in who you are, and in the strength that you already possess.
Share your individual needs with your partner
Now this is an important one. A lot of relationships fail because the woman in question has trouble listening, forgets what was said (or never heard it), and loses her cool easily. Get up and go for a walk as a group before having that all-important meeting. Explain your sensory issues to your partner. Realize the importance of establishing limits in order to avoid exhaustion caused by hiding your true feelings and striving for perfection in order to appease others. When it comes to managing the household, make a plan to divide and conquer. In the long run, you will feel better and have more to give if you take care of yourself, even if doing so means disappointing others on occasion.
The stigmatizing effects of ADHD in women and on their daily life cannot be overstated. In addition to embarrassment, people with ADHD or ADD often live in constant anxiety that their carefully constructed public persona will collapse at any moment.
All of these emotions are debilitating because they sap your strength, happiness, and confidence. These contribute greatly to the fact that a lot of women with ADHD also deal with issues like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, in addition to the more typical ADHD symptoms in women like inattention and impulsivity.
Nevertheless, that’s not how things have to be. Actions can be taken to combat feelings of guilt and anxiety, releasing you from their stranglehold. We hope this post helps you understand ADHD in women, and cope with it more easily.