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0:38 Why is ADHD different in women?
2:34 ADHD symptoms in women
4:31 Tips and advice
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After years of questioning, therapy, burnout, and chaotic career path changes, I finally understood why I struggled with so many things.
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For many years, ADHD was simply assumed to be a condition that only affected young boys, who were typically hyperactive, disruptive, and disobedient.
Now though, we know that this simply isn’t the case.
ADHD affects both boys and girls, as well as men and women of all ages. However, it generally presents quite differently in women, for a few different reasons.
Why is ADHD in women different from ADHD in men?
According to the CDC, 12.9 percent of boys are diagnosed with ADHD, while that number is 5.6 percent for girls.
That’s a pretty big disparity, but the jury is still out about whether ADHD is actually less common in girls, or it’s simply a case of underreporting.
Over the years, virtually all of the research about ADHD has been based on the experience of boys and men and therefore, the criteria that were developed through that research don’t really fit the experience of most women or gender diverse people.
Because ADHD in women, trans and non-binary folks present differently, some people assume it’s a different condition altogether. Or just ‘a personality trait’. But the way ADHD affects the brain is the same in all genders and it’s only the way that it appears to impact someone’s behavior, that is often different.
Generally, women are more likely to have inattentive ADHD, while boys and men more frequently have hyperactive ADHD.
Inattentive ADHD presents with symptoms like being forgetful, disengaging from activities around you, and being more easily distracted. Sometimes, inattentive ADHD is assumed to be anxiety or even a mood disorder.
In many cases, the symptoms of ADHD in women have been explained away as something else; ‘she’s just spacey’ or, ‘she’s off with the fairies’, or even, ‘she’s just a chaotic person’. This is especially the case in younger girls, which is why many women don’t receive the right diagnosis until later in life.
Societal pressures and traditional gender roles have impacted ADHD diagnoses in women and set the field back many years
Animation: John Norman Santos