Girls and ADHD
One of the most frequent thing I hear from girls and women is “I can’t have ADHD.”
The reasons for this statement are numerous.
When we think of ADHD, we often think of the typical presentation in boys.
But ADHD in girls and women can look very very different. This can lead to misdiagnosis and girls being told their “fine.”
One common misconception is that girls and women who are high achieving can’t have ADHD. It is assumed that being organized, a good student, a hard worker, means that everything is fine.
However, ADHD looks like so many different things.
Here are some things to consider:
ADHD can look like anxiety, depression, or feeling unsettled. Some women take medication to manage anxiety and depression, yet fail to see the results they hope for. This leads to feelings of “what is wrong with me?” This can then lead to feelings of inadequacy, shame, frustration and self-doubt.
Procrastination is another common concern. You can be high achieving, but, if you wait till the last minute, stay up all night, and are stressed out. Managing to meet deadlines, but just barely, for fear of failure and judgement.
On the flip side, completing tasks can be a concern. This can look like unfinished books, hobbies that are started but never explored.
Carrying on day to day conversations is another cause of stress. The tuning in and out, daydreaming, and getting bored, leads to stress and avoiding others. “What if others notice I’m not paying attention, or ask a question that I can’t answer.”
The ability to hyper-focus is an indicator of ADHD (this is because of neurotransmitters in the brain). The periods of hyper-focus can seem like a huge benefit, but, these can also be followed by crashes and extreme fatigue.
Hyperactivity, another common trait of ADHD that is associated with boys and men. The things is, hyperactivity is so much more than increased physical activity. For girls and women hyperactivity can be internal. This may seem counter-intuitive and just plain weird but, hyperactivity in girls and women can look like hyper-verbality. This means, not getting words out fast enough to keep up with thoughts. This leads to interrupting others and blurting out. Hyperactivity can also look like being fidgety. Or, it can also be an inner restlessness, feeling unsettled and uncomfortable.
Also important to mention is that young girls and women often mask their symptoms. They want to be people pleasers and act like everything is great. Inside, they assume that they are struggling with anxiety, depression, feeling like they aren’t good enough, and pretending that everything is great.
If you feel like something isn’t the way you want it to be, it may be worth looking into.
I promise you, there is an easier way to live!
For more information:
Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You by Jenara Nerenberg
A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldy, and Break Through Barriers by Michelle Frank & Sari Solden
Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life by Sari Solden