ADHD in Women
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often referred to as a disorder diagnosed of children and men. Although it is more commonly diagnosed in men than women, this can sometimes be attributed to things such as gender roles expectations, comorbidities, stereotypes and referral bias, among others.
ADHD is a neurological disorder characterized by persistent inattention and can either occur with or without hyperactivity and impulsivity. According to research conducted by Canada’s Archives of Suicide Research, women are often misevaluated and treated due to beliefs that ADHD is a male disorder and a childhood disorder. However, ADHD in women means a higher likelihood of the following symptoms (according to the DSM-5):
• Failure to give close attention to detail or making careless mistakes in
• Trouble holding attention on tasks
• Not following through on instructions and failing to finish duties
• Trouble organizing tasks and activities
• Getting easily distracted
• Forgetfulness in daily activities
• Internalizing symptoms including mood and anxiety
Gender roles often expected for women to fulfill require high levels of executive functioning. When a women with ADHD attempts to mask the symptoms to uphold societal expectation, this can fuel shame and self-doubt, leading to relationship issues and difficulty managing intimate relationships.
Hypersensitivities are a much higher possibility for women than men with ADHD. Often, sensory overload of the nervous system can cause emotional outbursts, somatic complaints and sleep difficulties, leading to more difficulty in completing daily tasks.
Hormonal impacts can also play an influence in late diagnosis or misdiagnosis due to ADHD symptoms and hormonal changes presenting at approximately the same time of development. Some treatment considerations are scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist or therapist with experience in ADHD in women and girls. This can be difficult to do but definitely worth it; make sure to ask if the clinician you are seeing specializes in ADHD in women and/or girls. Family psychoeducation and reframing are benefits to treating ADHD as it can often help with educating yourself on symptoms and validating what you have been going through. Medication, environmental reconstruction and a solid support system are also helpful tools in treatment. Make sure to seek recommendations from a medical professional on which medications may be right for you. Environmental reconstruction can assist in developing the necessary coping tool and structure your day to day.
Littman, E. P. (20, Dec 15). https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-inwomen-misunderstood-symptoms treatment /#:~:text=Women%20with%20ADHD%2C% 20compared%20to,and%20have%20trouble%20maintaining%20them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
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