Female ADHD

Women with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are usually not diagnosed. Part of the reason for this diagnosis gap is that it is traditionally believed to be a disease that mainly affects men, but it is also because women tend to have less obvious or socially damaging symptoms than men.

This article discusses how the symptoms of female ADHD may be different and why these symptoms are often overlooked. It also covers the ways in which these symptoms may affect daily life.

What are the differences in women’s symptoms

One of the reasons why ADHD is often undiagnosed in women and girls is that their symptoms are usually different from those of men and boys. There are three manifestations of ADHD: inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, or a combination of the two.

Men and boys often suffer from hyperactivity/impulsive hyperactivity, which can cause them to be irritable, always busy, irritable, irritable, talkative, impulsive, impatient, and mood swings.

On the other hand, women tend to show inattention and hyperactivity, which makes it difficult to concentrate, pay attention to details, stay organized, listen and remember things.

Some characteristics of ADHD with inattention, such as shyness or impulsivity, are usually regarded as personality characteristics rather than symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (12.9% vs. 5.6%). However, research shows that this difference is not because boys are more susceptible to infection, but because girls have not been fully diagnosed.

Studies generally show that although men and women with ADHD are more similar than different, there are still some subtle differences. During adolescence, girls tend to have fewer coping strategies than boys, and their sense of self-efficacy is worse. Compared with men, girls and women have fewer externalizing symptoms such as aggression, but have higher levels of depression and anxiety.

Why women’s ADHD symptoms are often explained

Symptoms of ADHD in girls are usually seen as personality traits rather than symptoms of a certain disease. For example, a girl may be described as empty, forgetful or talkative. In later life, women may seek help because of their symptoms, only to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

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The good news is that people’s awareness of the symptoms of ADHD in women continues to increase, which means that more women can get the help they need.

Women with ADHD face the same feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion that men with ADHD usually experience.

Psychological distress, low self-esteem, low self-esteem, and chronic stress are common. Often, women with ADHD feel that their lives are out of control or chaotic, and daily tasks may seem incredible.

Our culture generally expects women to take up the role of caregivers. When things are out of control and difficult to organize and plan due to ADHD, caring for others is almost impossible. This kind of social pressure may also greatly increase women’s feelings of inadequacy.

Common symptoms of female ADHD

You may notice signs of ADHD in many different areas of your life. In some cases, such as at work or school, some of these symptoms may be worse or more pronounced. You may find that you spend a lot of time and energy to behave “normally.”


You may wish you could be a better friend, partner or mother, and wish you could do what others would do. For example, you might want to remember your birthday, bake cookies, and arrive on time for appointments.

Because you can’t do what society expects women to do, people may think you don’t care.

social life

Growing up, you may be described as a tomboy because you are energetic and like to be busy. As an adult, friendship may be difficult to control because the social rules seem to be complicated. People may say that you speak more than anyone they know.

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Although you may be very talkative, you may not like attending parties and other social gatherings because they can make you feel overwhelmed and shy. Unless you are the person speaking, or if this is a topic that you find interesting, you will get distracted in the conversation.


It feels very difficult in the office. Noise and people make it difficult to complete the work. You can choose to be late or early, because the only time you can work effectively is when everyone else is away and quiet.

Your desk is full of documents. Even if you put in a lot of effort to organize it, it can only be kept clean for a day or two.


In school, the symptoms of ADHD in girls may be ignored because women are more likely to have ADHD with inattention, and the latter do not have the obvious behavioral problems usually associated with hyperactive/impulsive ADHD. Girls with ADHD may also pay too much attention to things they are interested in, which may cause teachers and parents to ignore the possibility of ADHD.

As an adult, you may feel frustrated because the people you go to school with pass by their accomplishments, even if you know that you are equally smart.

Daily life

With ADHD, you may feel that you are responding to requests and limiting disasters every day, rather than moving toward your goals. You may feel extreme sadness and frustration because you did not reach your potential. Other daily struggles may include:

  • Messy paper: It usually feels like you are overwhelmed by paper. In the workplace, at home, in the car, even in your wallet. You have a feeling of anxiety, unpaid bills and forgotten items are hidden under all the paper. You don’t think your money is organized, and you usually default on bills.
  • Overspend: You often overspend to make up for other problems. For example, when you don’t have a clean set of clothes to go to an office party, you will buy a new one. Or when you forget someone’s birthday, you will buy expensive gifts to make up for it. Shopping trips make you feel better at this moment, but you will regret it when your credit card bill arrives.
  • Disorganized: You may spend a lot of time, money, and research on products to help you be more organized, but then you won’t use them. You may feel embarrassed to let guests come to your home because your home is too messy.
  • Indecision: The grocery store is overwhelming and you may find it difficult to decide what to buy. Even if you stay in the store longer than most people, you often forget the key ingredients of your meal.

It is often difficult for people with ADHD to relax. Little things can push you to the top, and you may become emotional.

Many women are relieved to learn that the behavior they have been struggling with since they can remember is because of ADHD.

Co-occurring conditions

Other conditions may also exist with ADHD. When you have multiple conditions, they are called comorbid conditions or coexistence conditions. The following are some of the conditions that women often experience in addition to ADHD:

It is good to understand these coexisting conditions, because they can cause symptoms similar to ADHD. In turn, this will make the diagnosis of ADHD more complicated. However, experienced clinicians will be aware of this challenge.

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If you think you may have ADHD, be sure to get a diagnosis by a healthcare professional. An accurate diagnosis and the resulting treatment plan will relieve your symptoms and greatly improve your quality of life. Discuss the symptoms you are experiencing with a mental health professional or your doctor for a more accurate assessment.