ADHD in Adult Women vs Men: Similarities, Differences & Ways To Help Reduce Symptoms

"While many individuals find great success from taking prescription medication for ADHD, there are side effects that may dissuade some users"
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Symptoms of ADHD were mentioned in the medical community as early as 1902 by British pediatrician George Frederic Still.1 In his research, Still witnessed 15 cases of ADHD in boys and five cases in girls, concluding there was “a disproportion which…is not altogether accidental.”2 His conclusion that ADHD affects boys more frequently than girls persisted for decades, with even more recent studies indicating that men are generally more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than women, with a male to female ratio of approximately 4:1 in community samples.3 The key word here is “diagnosed.” Researchers now know that women are indeed less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than boys because they’re disproportionately more likely to be missed due to so-called “hidden” symptoms.

Find out how ADHD in women differs from ADHD in men, what the similarities are, and ways to help reduce symptoms.

ADHD in Women vs. Men: Similarities

No two people experience ADHD the same, but research shows that the symptoms of ADHD in men and women are more alike than different.4 Executive dysfunction, difficulties with organization, inability to plan, and trouble remembering details are all common symptoms of ADHD that present in all genders. While both men and women can be hyperactive, inattentive, or both, women are less likely to exhibit externalizing behaviors like men, making their symptoms harder to spot and the rate of their diagnoses lower than in men.

Gender Differences in ADHD

The stereotype of someone with ADHD is a hyperactive little boy because hyperactivity is an externalizing behavior that’s hard to miss. Girls and women, on the other hand, are more likely to be diagnosed with inattentive ADHD and tend to exhibit internalizing behaviors, including how they express their hyperactivity. As explained by Julia Edwards, a licensed mental health counselor and an ADHD-certified clinical services provider, “What’s different are the behaviors and presentation of the same symptoms because of the structural and functional differences between the male and female brain.”5 She goes on to explain that internal hyperactivity in women can appear as overthinking, intrusive thoughts, and negative self-talk.

Other symptoms of ADHD in women include:

  • Forgetfulness 
  • Daydreaming
  • Zoning out during conversations
  • Emotional sensitivity 
  • Comorbid anxiety or depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Impatience
  • Always playing catch up
  • Missed bills or overspending
  • Perfectionism
  • People-pleasing
  • Often referred to as a “chatterbox”
  • Shyness or social anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Self-doubt
  • Repetitive behaviors like hair pulling or skin picking
  • Increased risk of self-harm

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Because the above symptoms do not fit the stereotype of the hyperactive little boy, girls and women are often misdiagnosed with mood disorders like bipolar disorder or a personality disorder. 

Since boys and men tend to display externalizing behaviors, they are often diagnosed earlier than girls.

Symptoms of ADHD in men include:

  • Hyperactive behaviors like fidgeting or being unable to sit still
  • Physical aggression
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Blurting or interrupting during conversation
  • Tendency to misplace items
  • Risky behavior like reckless driving and substance abuse
  • Defensiveness
  • Insensitivity to others
  • Always needing to be right 

Reducing ADHD Symptoms for All Genders  

Whether you identify as a woman, man, or non-binary person, there are steps you can take to reduce ADHD symptoms no matter how they present. Standard treatments include behavioral therapy like CBT, counseling, and medication. There is also evidence that healthy lifestyle changes can make a difference in symptoms, such as following a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, limiting screen time, and practicing mindfulness. Getting regular exercise can also affect the severity of ADHD symptoms. 

It’s also important to be as educated as possible on ADHD, especially if you are a woman who was diagnosed late because you may have developed a number of coping mechanisms to mask your ADHD symptoms. Just as important is educating the people around you on your experience with ADHD, such as family members, friends, and even work colleagues.  

While many individuals find great success from taking prescription medication for ADHD, there are side effects that may dissuade some users, such as sleep problems, decreased appetite, headaches, and moodiness. This is why prescription medication is best as a last resort after trying more gentle options first.  

How Brillia Can Help 

Brillia is a non-prescription medication which offers a simple and efficient approach to reducing symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, and restlessness. Unlike prescription medications, Brillia does not contain any harsh, synthetic chemicals and is not associated with any harmful side effects. Instead, its active ingredients consist of targeted antibodies to the brain-specific S100B protein, which plays a crucial role in mood regulation and neuroplasticity. By seeking out and attaching to this protein, Brillia stops the instigation of symptoms altogether, leading to more calmness, clarity, and focus. This gentle and impactful approach is so specific that no other systems in the body are affected and there are no contraindications with other medications or supplements. Brillia’s success is supported by lifestyle factors outlined in our 5-Pillar methodology, which include healthy nutrition, controlled screen time, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices. 

Find out more about how Brillia works for adults with ADHD and explore more resources on managing ADHD symptoms at the Brillia blog.

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References: 1https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/history#1902, 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3000907/, 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3101894/, 4https://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/men-and-women-with-adhd/, 5https://psychcentral.com/adhd/adhd-and-gender#symptomsx

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