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Blog post updated on 10th March 2023
The diagnosis of ADHD in females is overlooked partly due to the condition being more commonly diagnosed in males. Most females are not diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood.
Statistically, only 4.9% of women are diagnosed with ADHD in comparison to 12.9% of men.
Karina Smirnoff image by Inside the Magic, Paris Hilton image by Victoria Pickering, and Solange Knowles image by Greg Chow, all from flickr.com. Simone Biles image by Agência Brasil Fotografias, commons.wikimedia.org
These include Karina Smirnoff (‘Dancing with the Stars’ performer), Paris Hilton (socialite), Solange Knowles (singer, songwriter and sister of Beyoncé Knowles), and Simone Biles (Olympic athlete).
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If females are diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, they may show signs of struggling whilst at school such as being unable to concentrate, focus and pay attention and being unable to remain seated for prolonged periods of time during class.
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In adulthood, females with ADHD can experience problems at work such as poor management of paperwork and record-keeping and keeping up with the demands of their jobs. They can even have problems at home such as struggling to keep on top of household chores and managing their finances.
Even if women with ADHD can have trouble at work, they are more likely to have trouble at home or in social situations. They can even “space out” during conversations rather than interrupt them.
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These include compulsive overeating, substance abuse and sleep deprivation. They are also more likely to experience dysphoria (unpleasant mood), low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression than men with ADHD can. In order to cope with these issues, women have a higher likelihood of using emotion-oriented strategies such as self-protective measures for stress management as opposed to using task-oriented strategies such as taking action to solve their problems.
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In numerous cases, women who are mothers only recognise their own experiences with ADHD after their children are diagnosed with it. This also shows that ADHD is hereditary.
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Women with ADHD can find it difficult to find a professional “who can find appropriate treatment” for their condition. They can also have more complicated medication issues than men who have ADHD.
Women who have ADHD may find the following treatment approaches helpful:
There are many other ways in which women with ADHD can help themselves such as understanding and accepting their challenges instead of blaming themselves; identifying stressors and lowering their stress levels; simplifying their lives; seeking “structure and support from family and friends;” getting expert parenting advice; creating an ADHD-friendly family that co-operate and support one another; scheduling some time alone for themselves; developing healthy self-care habits such as getting enough sleep and exercise and having good nutrition, and focusing on the things they love.
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If ADHD is undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause “substantial mental health and education implications.” Women getting a formal diagnosis of ADHD is very important, especially if it addresses symptoms and other issues “with functioning and impairment.” This will “help determine appropriate treatment and strategies” for each individual woman with ADHD.
You can also take an online ADHD test which doesn’t count as a diagnosis but can help give an indication as to whether you have traits.
In Jessica’s video for her YouTube channel How to ADHD, she explains the key differences between boys and girls with ADHD (See the bottom of this post for the video).
Choosing Therapy’s ADHD in Women: Signs, Symptoms & Treatments
BuzzFeed News’s ADHD Often Presents Differently in Women
Newswires’s ADHD in Women: Managing Work-Related Stress and Workplace Wellbeing