The Subtle Signature of ADHD in Adult Women

Researchers are now beginning to understand that ADHD manifests differently in adult men and women. Men with ADHD may have problems at work, unable to complete their tasks or getting mad too easily at subordinates. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to see conflicts at home and feel a continuing sense of overwhelm.The roles they are expected to play in society – organizer, planner, and primary parent at home – are very difficult to carry out with ADHD.

Women typically have the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD which may be more difficult to see and diagnose. It can show up in different ways at different stages of life. For example:

Middle school and high school – At this stage, female ADHD may show up as lack of focus, forgetfulness, boredom, difficulty with organization, and being distracted by internal thoughts.

College – In college, female ADHD may manifest as lack of self-regulation and self-management – being overly influenced by fellow students or participating in the recreational drug scene. They demonstrate is more risk-taking behavior than with their female classmates.

Later adulthood – During this stage, the responsibilities of family and work can make it difficult to cover up or manage ADHD. A woman with ADHD may feel overwhelmed and exhausted and may also experience psychological distress, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and chronic stress. She may feel that her life is out of control or in chaos, and daily tasks may seem impossibly huge.

Signs a Woman May Have ADHD

There are many potential symptoms that indicate a woman may have ADHD,including things like:

  • Your desk at work is piled high with papers. Even when you make a big effort to tidy it, it only stays clear for a day or two.Being at the office feels difficult. The noise and people make it hard to get work done.
  • You spend a lot of time and effort to look “normal,” and hope no one notices the real you.
  • You feel like you’re drowning in paper. At work, home, in your car, and even in your purse. You have an uneasy feeling that unpaid bills and forgotten projects are hiding under the paper.
  • You dislike going to parties and other social gatherings because they make you feel overwhelmed and shy.
  • Your mind drifts during conversations unless you’re the one talking or it’s a topic you find very interesting.
  • Friendships can be difficult to navigate because social rules seem complicated.

ADDitude magazine has compiled an extensive checklist of symptoms for women who may have ADHD.

Taking Action

If you think you may have ADHD, there are several steps you can take.

  • The first step is to consult a mental health professional about being assessed for ADHD.
  • Make sure your family and friends understand ADHD so they can be more supportive and have realistic expectations.
  • Reduce unnecessary stresses and commitments and negotiate with their family and partner to take over tasks that are the most challenging.
  • If you are diagnosed with the condition,you many want to consider coaching as an adjunct to treatment to help youdevelop good organizational habits and systems.

All of these steps can help you realize a better quality of life.


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