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Women and ADHD

By Megan Dlugokinski


Being a woman with ADHD is difficult for many reasons. The first being, that they don’t get diagnosed as easily as males do. Females tend to be less hyperactive and defiant; instead they are more shy and compliant. This absence of disruptive behaviors tends to delay the identification of females with ADHD.

More and more women aren’t even diagnosed until they reach their 30’s and 40’s. The primary reason for this is that they don’t realize what is causing their problems until their own children are diagnosed. When the woman educates herself on the disorder she begins to recognize the traits in herself.

As a woman gets older and takes on more responsibilities as a wife and mother she tends to get overwhelmed with her day-to-day life. An undiagnosed and untreated woman with ADHD can find that her life is falling apart. She is at greater risk for anxiety, depression, chronic low self-esteem, underachievement, financial crisis, sleeping problems, substance abuse, social challenges, divorce and becoming a single parent with ADHD children.

The constant stress due to difficulty managing the daily demands of life can create a “learned helplessness” way of reacting to negative situations. The constant criticism from others becomes internalized and erodes at her self esteem. Women start to blame themselves for all the bad things that keep happening in their lives.

Adding to the difficulty of women with ADHD are the hormonal effects of puberty, pregnancy, PMS, and menopause. How the disorder is manifested can change at different stages of a woman’s life. This is something that was previously ignored and is just now starting to be researched.

All of this can lead to anxiety and depression making a woman’s symptoms worse. This creates a vicious cycle that can be hard to break. There is hope however, once the diagnosis has been made and treatment is started.

The good news is that there is finally some research being done on females with this disorder. Kathleen Nadeau, PhD and Patricia Quinn, MD founded the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD (NCGI) to promote awareness and research on the disorder in females. Hopefully more will be done to reach these girls before adulthood so that they don’t have to face the same struggles as those that went undiagnosed until after their lives and their self esteem were damaged.

For more information on Women and ADHD:

moms_kids_adhd Visit the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD (NCGI) Web site at: http://www.ncgiadd.org for a free ebook "When Moms and Kids have ADD" and other great information.


Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embracing Disorganization at Home and in the Workplace by Sari Solden --- Women with Attention Deficit Disorder addresses the millions of withdrawn little girls and chronically overwhelmed women with ADD who go undiagnosed because they don't fit the stereotypical notion of people with ADD. They are not fast-talking, hyperactive, non-attentive, and they are not male. Though the book focuses on ADD, much of what is said also applies to women with ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Introduction by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo, authors of You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid? Foreword by John J. Ratey, MD, co-author of Driven to Distraction.


ADHD Women Understanding Women With ADHD by Kathleen G. Nadeau (Editor), Patricia O. Quinn (Editor) --- This landmark book brings together a broad field of experts to create a much needed and long-overdue book on the issues unique to women with AD/HD. Whether you are a woman who suspects that she has AD/HD, or a professional that wants to better diagnose and treat women with AD/HD, this book is designed with you in mind. In this unique blend of the professional and personal, the reader will come away with a broad-ranging, in-depth understanding of what it means to be a woman with AD/HD, and how to help women with AD/HD face their unique challenges.



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