Women with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often live undiagnosed. This gap in diagnosis often happens because we often associated ADHD with men, but also because women have less obvious symptoms then men.
Luckily, research in relation to how women are impacted by ADHD is on the increase, leading to more awareness both in education in the workplace. But how does a womans experience of ADHD differ from those of men?
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects millions of children around the world and ~80 percent of those children will still suffer from ADHD once they reach adulthood. The former name of ADHD, “hyperkinetic disorder of childhood,” implied that it was an age-restricted disorder. There is now ample evidence that the disorder will persist into adolescence and beyond decades after diagnosis
A significant difference exists between the prevalence of ADHD in boys and girls. It isn’t necessary that girls are less vulnerable to this disease. Instead, it’s likely due to the way ADHD symptoms present in females.
How is ADHD different in women?
ADHD may be overlooked in girls due to how their symptoms manifest compared to boys. ADHD actually shows up in three ways: being inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive, or a combination of the two. Boys and men exhibit hyperactive/impulsive ADHD exhibiting externalised symptoms like fidgety, always on the go, restlessness, impulsive, irritability, and mood swings. While girls and women display inattentive ADHD displaying internalised symptoms. Symptoms of ADHD in women include:
- Internal restlessness
- Poor memory
- Time blindness
- Relationship troubles
- Poor task efficiency
- Constantly missing or misplacing items
- Excessive emotional sensitivity and reactivity, such as a tendency to cry or become easily upset
- Focus on topics that attract their interest
- Tendency to daydream or appear lost in their own world
- Slow or distracted motions
- Habit of blurting out thoughts or acting on impulses without considering things through a practice of abandoning objectives or plans halfway
- Relational aggression against peers, including gossip, bullying, intimidation, and other controlling behaviour
- Problems sleeping, including difficulty falling asleep or waking up too early
While studies suggest that men and women with ADHD are more similar than they are different, there are a few minor distinctions. Women have fewer coping techniques and worse self-efficacy than men during adolescence. Externalising symptoms like as hostility are also less common in women than in men, while depression and anxiety are more common.
Because women with ADHD have fewer behavioural issues and less obvious symptoms, their problems are sometimes missed. They aren’t referred for examination or therapy. This could lead to more issues in the future. Undiagnosed ADHD, according to research, can have a negative impact on a woman’s self-esteem. It may even affect their mental health. Males with ADHD are prone to expressing their anger. Women with ADHD channel their grief and anger inward. Women are more likely to suffer from sadness, anxiety, and eating problems because of this. Females with untreated ADHD are also more likely than normal women to have issues in social situations and intimate relationships (Young et al., 2020).
There is no treatment for ADHD. However, there are several options for supporting individuals with it.
Medications: To control symptoms and improve functioning, doctors frequently give stimulant or non-stimulant medications.
Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aids in the development of new methods to manage with ADHD symptoms in the real world.
Social skills training: Social skills training can help you integrate more smoothly and nurture relationships.