Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), doesn’t just affect children. It can continue into adulthood without being diagnosed. In fact, ADHD in women is a relatively new area of research. 1 Most cases of ADHD are first spotted in childhood. This might explain why it’s overlooked in adults! And while 3 to 5 percent of American children have ADHD,2 the condition persists in 60 percent of them. That leaves about 4 percent of American adults with ADHD. Of these adults, less than 20 percent even know about it and very few ask for help.3
In children, ADHD is also associated with boys. No wonder it goes unnoticed in girls – let alone women.4 Plus, society pressures females to act “ladylike”, but accepts many ADHD behaviors in males. This can make it hard for women to face their symptoms, explaining why chronic stress (and stress-related disease) are more common in females with ADHD. More research is needed to learn how ADHD affects women. Until then, learn the symptoms and how to handle them.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder defined by three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. People suffering from ADHD might be easily distracted and forgetful. Focusing on a single task feels impossible. Often, they overlook instructions and lose things. Running late and forgetting appointments are the norm. In conversations, a person with ADHD may interrupt or talk nonstop. They might seem like they’re constantly “on the go.”5
ADHD sometimes runs in families, but the diagnosis is tricky. A woman may only notice her own symptoms when her own child is diagnosed. Other times, she might seek treatment when her life feels chaotic.6
Tips For Women With ADHD
1. Get Diagnosed
Get an official diagnosis, because it’s the only way you’ll know. From there, your doctor can help you find the best route of therapy. The symptoms of ADHD range far and wide, so the approach will have to cater to you – and only you.
2. Physical Activity
Even though hyperactivity slows down in adulthood,7 it never hurts to exercise. It’s a great way to manage hyper active tendencies. Doing so also promotes calmness, focus, and concentration.
Whether or not you have ADHD, simplifying your life will enhance your mental health. For example, pare down your closet to the essentials. Getting ready in the morning will be ten times easier!
On that note, strive for stress management. Spend time with people that love you. Do things that make you happy, even if it takes longer than most people. It’s a huge step for controlling chronic stress.
Talk to your friends and family about your condition. Be open about your struggles, and show your appreciation for patience. For instance, if you tend to interrupt people, let them know it doesn’t mean you don’t care. Tell them you do care but might need time to re-focus.
6. Seek Support
Aside from friends and family, connect with other adults diagnosed with ADHD. Better yet, find women who are in the same boat. By forming a support system, you’ll feel more at ease.
7. Take Breaks
Every day, give yourself a few breaks. Don’t do anything or speak to anyone. Let your mind “chill” to limit overwhelmed and frazzled feelings; all it takes is couple minutes.
Having ADHD doesn’t mean you’re not smart. Think of it as a challenge, not a roadblock. A therapist can help you learn how to accept – not judge – your condition.
|↑1||Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. WomensHealth.gov.|
|↑2, ↑4||Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Anxiety and Depression Association of America.|
|↑5||Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health.|
|↑6||Women and Girls. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.|
|↑7||Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Anxiety and Depression Association of America.|