ADHD in Women: How To Navigate What Is Often Unknown

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. It is commonly diagnosed amongst children between the ages of 7-15 years and women in the stage of adulthood. Though ADHD is not completely curable and could be a lifelong condition, its effects and symptoms can be reduced through proper treatment and diagnosis done at an early age. 

Diagnosis and causes

ADHD is common amongst children but can often go undiagnosed. The exact causes of ADHD are unclear but may include genetic, environmental and developmental causes such as hereditary prevalence of ADHD, exposure to substances like lead, addiction to drugs and alcohol or substance abuse during pregnancy and premature birth.

Effects of ADHD

People suffering from ADHD often have issues and trouble in managing their time, being organized, paying attention, completing assigned tasks, etc. This is a disorder which if not diagnosed or misdiagnosed could lead to many problems in the adulthood.

ADHD: In men vs in women

It is found that more men are diagnosed with ADHD than women. ADHD symptoms manifest differently in men and women. 

ADHD commonly brings out three symptoms in people which are hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. Men are observed to show more signs of hyperactivity whereas women lean more towards inattention. 

Hyperactivity in a person could be observed through various gestures like trouble staying quiet, being fidgety, not being seated, talking excessively, always running around and climbing on things and always being “on the go”.

Inattention on the other hand could be observed if the person is very inattentive, easily distracted, have trouble in completing tasks, forgetting things and tasks, disorganized, often losing things, making careless mistakes and not being able to pay close attention to details.

Most symptoms shown by men suffering from ADHD can be recognized easily which makes the process of diagnosis and treatment faster. On the other hand, in women, inattention is very subtle and can often remain undiagnosed. This happens more because problems due to inattention can be hidden very easily by pretending to pay attention or hiding careless mistakes. Women also tend to be less hyperactive than men. Hyperactivity may increase if ADHD is not diagnosed in early ages and tend to be more pronounced in adulthood, which could also be why many women are diagnosed with ADHD in their adulthood. 

These symptoms in women often grow from childhood and are observed drastically in their adulthood because of the increasing day to day responsibilities and work load. ADHD in adults show more chronic and visible symptoms like forgetfulness, anxiety, anger, inability to complete work, frustration, procrastination, mood swings, depression and being disorganized.

In our society women are required to be more responsible and attentive towards the family. They are often expected to keep a healthy organization of the household, keeping records and managing the house. They are expected to take the responsibility of children, treat them, remember little things like their birthdays, functions, etc. Women suffering from ADHD hence find it hard to survive and cope in this society. 

In a society where they are expected to be the organizer and the responsible one, they can fail to deliver. These expectations often turn out to be dangerous and harmful for women with ADHD who require attention and supervision as opposed to being thrust wit responsibilities. They have trouble remembering and organizing things and hence may require someone to guide them in their daily tasks and routines. It can be very distressing for women suffering from ADHD if they don’t receive the right support, care and treatment. 

Though it is not curable, it is possible to reduce ADHD’s symptoms through treatment and medication. This may include medication- which may help in suppressing hyperactivity, impulsive behavior and could be used to increase attention span of a person. Therapeutic treatment could also be provided targeting the growth areas of the symptoms and focusing on changes in behavior. Special education for the children who have trouble paying attention, counseling for adults and providing social skill training and interaction in support groups could help reduce the effects of ADHD. 

ADHD is a chronic disorder but with proper attention and diagnosis the symptoms can be eased and people suffering from ADHD can lead a healthy life.


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Neha Ramneek Kapoor

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