The Truth About ADHD in Women
February 24, 2023
Everyone has a different perception of ADHD. But what is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD as it’s commonly referred to, is marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
Some people grow up thinking only kids experience it while assuming that they grow out of it. Some think only boys get it. And some feel that the disorder itself doesn’t exist at all!
We have come a long way in understanding ADHD effects. The truth is simple: It exists.
It affects adults, and more importantly, adult women. Women have gone underdiagnosed and undertreated for ADHD until only recently. Recently, we’re seeing women from all walks of life in their late 20s, 30s, and 40s finding out that they have it!
Women are now using social media to share when they realized they had ADHD-related symptoms. For many, this realization comes after other women posted about their own experiences!
Now, why have women gone so untreated until now?
Doctors Patricia O. Quinn and Manisha Madhoo explain that in girls, ADHD is often not considered, even when they show clear symptoms, for the same reason time and time again: They frequently internalize symptoms. Girls are far more likely than boys to use coping strategies to help hide their symptoms because of the strict ways women are expected to act from such a young age. This includes being more “well-behaved” than the boys. This is interesting because, in school, when young boys are behaving “poorly,” they are likely to get tested for ADHD. Girls, on the other hand, are likely to be undiagnosed for much longer.
Until recently, society has dropped the ball in taking care of women with ADHD. Yet, a better understanding of certain disorders and the broad spectrum of people they impact is taking place. This is due to the socially-driven push for mental health awareness.
Martha Barnard-Rae, a 40-year-old woman who was only recently diagnosed with ADHD, led Ted Talk that went viral on YouTube. In her Ted Talk, she tells a comical story about a time she went to the store to pick up a 38-inch plastic tub, and between checkout and the car, she loses the item! She brings light and humor to the topic of ADHD, normalizing the traits it comes with. The request inability to memorize things, frustration in academic settings, and trouble following lengthy conversations are some of these traits.
The effects of ADHD can also make people feel inadequate at times. It feels like having inattentive friends and bad mothers. However, this isn’t the case.
With ADHD, also comes increased creativity, and unique perspectives about the world. Most women with ADHD tend to be more empathetic and patient with others, as well as very fast-working and detail-oriented. This tells us that if treated correctly, ADHD can leave you with a unique set of traits that make you the wonderful woman that you are.
If you think you’re experiencing ADHD, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to look into the next steps. Remember, we’re here for you!
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