It is quite common for women to come for an ADHD assessment, and wonder why for a long time they have been suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression. In some situations, they may have accessed different support, experiencing limited success. Because the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are less likely in women, they may be more difficult to be diagnosed with Adult ADHD. Women are more likely to silently suffer from inattentive symptoms, which are more difficult to diagnose, causing anxiety, or feelings of not being good enough.
The previous ratios in diagnosing ADHD in children were 5 boys to 1 girl. This can be one of the reasons why a woman suffering from ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed later in life. We need to be mindful that for many years it was thought this condition affects only men and naughty, hyperactive young boys. With time and new research available, it will be interesting how the ratios will look in the future.
Why ADHD symptoms in women can present different?
The ADHD symptoms are more subtle compared with men
Women may be better at masking their inattentive symptoms
Outbursts and emotional dysregulation can be more frequent
Women with ADHD present more frequently with inattentive symptoms
Anxiety may manifest physiologically in the form of headaches or migraines
Hormonal changes and estrogen may play a role in the presentation of ADHD in women
Symptoms of ADHD in women may be viewed as anxiety, depression, or personality traits
Women suffering from ADHD tend to space out and daydream due to inattentive symptoms
ADHD in women and comorbid conditions
When symptoms of ADHD in women are well managed, the symptoms of other mental health conditions, can improve or achieve remission. However, it is also common for women diagnosed with ADHD to continue to suffer from co-morbid conditions, such as:
Sleep problems: Circadian rhythm disorder, Narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders
Anxiety and mood disorders
Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)
Binge eating and general eating disorders
Alcohol and drug addictions
Episodes of self-harm
And other mental health conditions
Types of ADHD in women
Inattentive ADHD is more common in women, and the least frequent type is the hyperactive presentation. For more information about different types of ADHD, you can watch the following video: Types of ADHD.
ADHD in women is an interesting topic, and although the condition was not well recognised in the past, we are seeing more women seeking help. We need to understand that women suffering from ADHD can be equally if not more affected by this condition. However, the symptoms can have a different presentation. Some may find it useful using technology-based apps in enhancing their daily productivity, such as an ADHD planner app. However, some may find having a technology free approach more productive. When dealing with symptoms of ADHD and any other mental health condition, it is good to remember that everyone is different.
With the more recent awareness of ADHD in women, the future diagnosis rate may be very likely to change. More research is necessary in understanding how the condition may be differently diagnosed and managed in women suffering from ADHD. If you identify experiencing symptoms of ADHD, talk to your mental health professional or healthcare provider. Having the appropriate support can significantly improve your quality of life and well-being.
Females with ADHD: An expert consensus statement taking a lifespan approach providing guidance for the identification and treatment of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder in girls and women - PMC (nih.gov)
Disclaimer: The information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, and information, contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional.