ADHD has long been thought of as something that impacts young boys. On TV or in movies, we are often shown boys running around, causing trouble. This is still what many think of when they hear ADHD. However, this could not be further from the truth.
I frequently have women come into the office wanting to know “what’s wrong with me?” I promise you the answer is nothing! Women have long been stigmatized when it comes to mental health. Many women have been struggling for years with anxiety, depression or just a sense of being generally unsettled. Some have been taking medications to help alleviate symptoms. However, little progress is made and shame, frustration, and self-doubt remain high.
So how do you know you may be struggling with ADHD. In women, I often hear concerns of procrastination. Starting a task seems impossible. Yet on the flip side, many projects are left unfinished. Some even buy everything they need to start a new hobby, but never quite get around to starting. Some women say they manage to meet deadlines, but just barely. The fear of judgment and failure is motivation enough to get things done on time.
Another concern is daydreaming and tuning in and out of conversations. This can often lead to feelings of inadequacy and the fear of missing important information. Thoughts of “what if I miss something,” “what is they ask me a question” or “what if they notice that I wasn’t listening?”
Many women will say that they can’t possibly have ADHD because they can hyper-focus on tasks obsessively, often missing sleep or forgetting to eat. Because of the inconsistent neurotransmitters in the ADHD brain, hyper-focus can be a tell-tale sign of ADHD. It can also be your super-power!
The hyperactivity piece is somewhat puzzling for many. But, when it comes to ADHD in women and girls, hyperactivity can be internal! I know! It makes no sense right? Hyperactivity in women can present as hyper-verbality. That can’t get words out fast enough to keep up with my thoughts feeling can be hyperactivity. As can the inner restlessness. That feeling of being unsettled and uncomfortable.
Lastly, women tend to mask their symptoms. They assume that they keep battling depression and/or anxiety, feeling like they keep falling short, or feel “less than” all in silence while pretending that everything is great.
If any of this sounds familiar, it may be time to think about the benefits of an ADHD assessment. An assessment will provide answers, validation, provide support and give you specific steps to take to see positive change.