How Common Is It
Its difficult to say exactly how many women have ADHD. Very little research has looked at this, and the data available is outdated and narrow in scope. Some data shows that at least 4% of adults have this condition, and that men are more likely to be diagnosed.
I know in my practice, I run across more women who have ADHD than those who dont. The negative thoughts that often accompany this condition tend to overlap and worsen other mental health struggles.
Because we know so many girls and women go undiagnosed, its difficult to confirm national statistics. Its possible that millions more females qualify for this diagnosis than is currently reported.
Our Perspective: Own It
We believe ADHD does not make us flawed or broken. We are unique and our differences can be a source of compassion and power. We encourage those with ADHD to get connected with the support they need, learn about ADHD, and build on their strengths so they can show up as their best selves, and thrive at work and in life.
ADHD is real and has its challenges, and there are also many reasons to be proud. Here are a few: 25 Things to Love About ADHD.
How Adhd Differs In Women Vs Men
Girls and women tend to show more inattentive symptoms than hyperactivity/impulsivity. They are also more likely to present with internalizing symptoms than externalizing. Because these symptoms are less disruptive and don’t fit the ADHD stereotype, ADHD is often missed in girls.
Girls are often able to develop coping strategies that mask their ADHD symptoms, particularly when they are younger. When they do show noticeable symptoms, they are are often diagnosed with other conditions, such as anxiety or depression , instead of being accurately diagnosed with ADHD.
Studies have shown teachers are less likely to refer girls for ADHD assessment, which can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. When assessed, girls and women tend to meet fewer of the diagnostic criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for ADHD, as these criteria were developed based on predominantly male samples.
These delays in diagnosis and treatment often hinder basic skills that are acquired in elementary school and can lead to impairments in academics and in psychosocial functioning in girls and women.
ADHD symptoms in girls and women tend to:
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Adhd In Women: Historical Perspectives
Our understanding of ADHD has evolved significantly. Once considered a condition defined by measures of hyperactivity in children, ADHD is now understood to include inattentiveness and to potentially last a lifetime. Still, many outdated ADHD stereotypes persist both in and outside the medical community, hampering the study, detection, and treatment of ADHD in women today. Recent research predicts serious mental and physical health outcomes for women who are inadequately evaluated and treated due to noxious ADHD myths like the following:
- ADHD is a male disorder. Hyperactive boys, deemed disruptive and unmanageable, were the ones referred to clinics. Early studies were based on the behaviors of these white hyperactive boys these findings helped shape the diagnostic criteria and assessment scales still in use today.
- ADHD is a childhood disorder. ADHD was long classified as a Disruptive Behavior Disorder of Childhood, based on the hallmark of hyperactivity. Over time, it has become clear that ADHD does not resolve at puberty, and that inattentive symptoms persist longer than hyperactive symptoms.
Female Adhd Test: Symptoms Checklist For Women
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental health condition in which people have significant difficulty with focus and hyperactive behaviors.
Frequently thought of to be a disorder of childhood, however, adults can also be affected by this. ADHD is broken down into three categories: inattentive type, hyperactive type, and combined type.
ADHD may differ between men and women. In this article, well discuss the common symptoms of this condition and the particular signs a woman needs to know before taking a female ADHD test.
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What Does Adhd In Women Look Like
It is worth remembering that ADHD is not gender biased. It was not so long ago where we all knew of ADHD in the context of naughty disruptive school boys bouncing off the walls. ADHD symptoms exist in both females and males and in the same proportions. We have a huge gap in the diagnosis profile with males almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females. ADHD really does look different in women.
Therefore it is for this reason, many women grow up feeling misunderstood. Sometimes their difficulties are mistaken for being hormonal or anxious. At times the ADHD symptoms are attributed to the personality type of being the chatty ones and more social.
As with any mental health disorder, symptoms can vary and this can even vary between the genders. Women with ADHD, when reporting childhood experiences, are the ones who daydream or doodle on their work. They often report zoning in and out, when they should be listening in class.
Research has shown that girls and women are less likely to be diagnosed as parents and teachers are not quite sure what to look out for even if they do notice some difficulties.
Therefore inattentive ADHD is also more common in women than it is in boys and men, who tend to lean towards the hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. As males may display external symptoms such as fidgeting and hyperactivity they are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD.
Symptoms Of Adhd In Women
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is not gender biased. ADHD symptoms exist almost as often in girls as they do in boys, and the majority of kids with ADHD never outgrow it. Whats more, scientific research strongly suggests that ADHD is hereditary. Which means that, if you are the mother of a child with attention and impulsivity problems, you may have ADHD, too.
This comes as a surprise to many women who assume that ADHD is a diagnosis for hyper little boys. Indeed, it is not. ADHD in adults is very real and ADHD diagnoses among women are on the rise.
According to the 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ADHD symptoms may fall into three categories: predominantly hyperactive, predominantly inattentive, and combined type. Inattentive ADHD symptoms are still often misunderstood and misdiagnosed by medical professionals who mistake them for stress, anxiety, or another related condition. Inattentive ADHD is also more common in girls and women than it is in boys and men.
If you suspect that you have symptoms of ADHD, complete the free female ADHD test below and share the results with a health care professional the only person who can diagnose ADHD.
NOTE: This self-test is not intended to diagnose or to replace the care of a health care professional. Only a doctor or mental health professional can diagnose ADHD based on clinical evaluation.
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Adhd In Women: Impulsivity
Symptoms of impulsivity further influence how ADHD presents in women. Impulsivity is associated with
- gender atypical behaviors, including behaviors perceived as controlling, demanding, easily irritated, etc.
- high-risk behaviors, like speeding and extreme sports
- addictive behaviors, including substance use and gambling
- a significantly increased likelihood of acting on negative feelings, including self-harm
Diagnosis Later In Life
Many women get overlooked until later in life when they begin to struggle to make sense of the difficulties they have been encountering. Often females may get left behind and diagnose later in life because they are able to cover up the ADHD symptoms. Its only later on in life, when responsibilities of family and work build up that it becomes difficult for women to manage ADHD.
ADHD symptoms in women can often be misunderstood and misdiagnosed by medical professionals, mistaking them for stress, anxiety, or another related condition
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Strategies For Accurate Diagnosis Of Adhd In Women And Girls
Increased awareness among health care professionals that ADHD is an important medical issue in women and girls is critical for ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment. It has been suggested that women often seek help for their symptoms on their own,21 but they may not be aware that ADHD is responsible for the problems they are experiencing. Although female patients have been less likely to receive ADHD medications in the past, a review published by Cornforth and colleagues66 suggested that the efficacy and tolerability of ADHD medications is similar in male and female patients, and a review of outcomes from the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With ADHD found that girls were more likely than boys to have favorable long-term outcomes with ADHD medication.67 Growth rates in medication use suggest that the treatment of adult ADHD in women is increasing,6 possibly because of increased awareness of the presentation of ADHD symptoms in women and a subsequent diagnosis of ADHD.
Inattentive Adhd Is More Prevalent In Women
Inattentive ADHD is more common in women than men. In women, inattentive ADHD often goes undiagnosed because some of its traits are confused with signs of stress or anxiety.
In some cases, inattentive ADHD can also co-occur with other mental health conditions, such as autism,anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse.
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The Face Of Adhd In Women
Studies show that adult ADHD is more likely to go undiagnosed in women compared to men.
This starts in childhood as boys are more likely to exhibit the Hyperactive/Impulsive Type of ADHD, girls are more commonly known to have the Inattentive Type of ADHD, which makes it harder to stay focused, organised, listen and retain things successfully in working memory.
This difference in presentation often means that boys are typically more disruptive and hyperactive in class and therefore the ADHD symptoms will be more noticeable and likely to lead to a referral for diagnosis.
Surveys conducted in the UK with children aged between 5 and 15 years old, 3.62% of boys and 0.85% of girls had ADHD.
There are Three Recognised Types of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD in Women:
1) Combination Type Symptoms of both criteria inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past 6 months
2) Inattentive Type Symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months .
3) Hyperactive/Impulsive Type Symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not inattention were present for the past six months.
Women with ADHD are more inclined to feeling dysphoria, depression and anxiety. They are also prone to having lower self-esteem and developing coping strategies that are more focused on compensating unfinished and forgotten tasks rather than actually solving an existing problem.
- Diagnosis & Treatment
- Secondary Symptoms
How Does Inattentive Adhd Impact Daily Life
There are both benefits and challenges that inattentive ADHD presents. Some of the benefits of inattentive ADHD include:
- Being adventurous: When ADHD is managed effectively, impulsivity can make life exciting and inspiring. People with ADHD may use this trait adaptively to explore their curiosities and interests in life.
- Creative thinking: People with ADHD are often naturally creative, seeing the world in unique ways and coming up with inventive solutions to problems.
- Increased energy: There are times when increased energy is beneficial. People with ADHD may thrive while performing certain tasks or engaging in certain activities that require a lot of energy.
- Self-awareness: People with inattentive ADHD may find that they are tuned in to how they’re feeling at any given moment, which can help them fulfill their needsâwhether it’s time away from a task when they’re feeling distracted or learning a new skill when they’re feeling energetic.
There are also challenges that people with inattentive ADHD may face. These challenges may be made more difficult because schools, jobs, and social norms often don’t account for people who are neurodivergent. It can feel frustrating to constantly have to advocate for yourself if you have inattentive ADHD.
Women with inattentive ADHD may also struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
Below is a list of the potential challenges:
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Adhd In Women: Social Deficits
Women with ADHD, compared to men with ADHD, struggle more with socialization.
- Women are often overwhelmed with the demands of relationships and tend to have fewer meaningful relationships as a result. They rarely initiate friendships, and have trouble maintaining them. Isolation protects from discomfort and confusion.
- They often struggle with rejection sensitivity, an intense emotional response to real or perceived rejection, which can make social interaction a potential source of pain.
- They are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors compared to women without ADHD. One theory for this is early recognition of sexuality as a shortcut to social acceptance. Its common to find a history of early initiation of sexual activity, early intercourse, more sexual partners, more casual sex, less protected sex, more sexually transmitted infections, and more unplanned pregnancies in women with ADHD. While common, these experiences are aspects of ADHD that elicit shame.
More Research Is Necessary
As more and more adult women seek treatment and diagnosis for ADHD, scientists say they need more studies that look at gender differences in the condition.
For example, some experts believe female hormones play a role in the ADHD symptoms of young girls and women. Females may need other forms of treatment than what boys or men need. Many girls also are raised to behave differently from boys. This could make them express their ADHD symptoms in other ways.
Ultimately, experts say more research can help them identify, diagnose, and treat ADHD symptoms early in young girls and women. That early intervention is key to better management of the condition in the long run.
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When Problems Arise In The Classroom
To address the problem of girls with ADHD not being referred for treatment by teachers and to prevent girls with ADHD from being overlooked in the classroom, it is important to screen girls who are not doing well or require extra help to succeed. In a retrospective analysis of young women diagnosed with ADHD as children, ADHD was recognized as contributing to impaired academic progress by the parent but not by the individual with ADHD.45 Lack of academic progress also resulted in an increased use of tutoring services, repeating of grades, and placement in special education classes for girls with ADHD compared with controls.8,15 Educational impairments were also reflected in lower rates of graduation from high school in girls with ADHD compared with non-ADHD controls.16
What Is Adhd In Women
ADHD in women is a real and serious condition that can have a profound impact on their lives. It is often misunderstood and underdiagnosed, which can lead to many problems down the road. Women with ADHD may have difficulty in school, at work, and in relationships. They may also suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Sometimes, the symptoms of ADHD in women are chalked up to just being emotional or hormones. This is not the case. ADHD is a real, serious condition that should be taken seriously. If you think you may have ADHD, speak to your doctor. They will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and help you find the treatment you need.
There are many different treatments for ADHD, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. The best course of treatment will vary from person to person. Medication can be very effective in managing the symptoms of ADHD, but it is not a cure-all. Therapy can help women with ADHD learn how to cope with their condition and make necessary changes in their lives. Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet, can also help reduce symptoms.
If you think you may have ADHD, dont suffer in silence. Talk to your doctor and get the help you need. With proper treatment, you can lead a happy and successful life.
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Treatment For Adhd In Women
A mix of both medication and therapy is the most effective treatment for ADHD.
Cognitive behavior therapy , combined with mindfulness-based practices, are effective therapeutic methods.
If youd like to try therapy, make sure to find a therapist familiar with ADHD so that being late, interruptions, or trouble following through on tasks dont get in the way.
Additional ways you can deal with ADHD:
What Other Mental Health Conditions Commonly Occur With Adhd In Adult Women
It is common for other mental health conditions to occur along with ADHD, known as co-morbid conditions. These conditions can sometimes mask or exacerbate symptoms of ADHD and make it harder to get a clear diagnosis. It is important to get a diagnostic assessment with an expert in ADHD in order to properly understand the origin of your symptoms.
Some common co-occurring conditions with adult ADHD in women include:
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Adhd In Women: Signs Symptoms And Treatment
ADHD is underdiagnosed in women more than in other gender identities or children.
Gender biases, as well as cultural expectations of girls and women, play a big part in the lower rate of diagnoses. For example, symptoms of inattentiveness are dismissed as daydreaming, or interrupting others can be labeled chattiness.
As a result, women struggling with undiagnosed ADHD often have their symptoms misattributed to other factors.
Despite these challenges, it is entirely possible for women to thrive with ADHD.
In this article, well explore the signs, symptoms, and treatment for ADHD in women.
If youd like to know more, read our statement on over- and under-diagnosis of ADHD.
Adhd In Women: Signs And Symptoms
ADHD in women primarily means a greater likelihood for the following:
- inattentive symptom presentation, including, per the DSM-5
- failing to give close attention to details or making careless mistakes in activities
- trouble holding attention on tasks
- not following through on instructions and failing to finish duties
- trouble organizing tasks and activities
- getting easily distracted
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