If you are a woman with ADHD who was diagnosed late or never diagnosed at all, you may have felt misunderstood for a large portion of your life due to your condition. Maybe your teachers singled you out as a “daydreamer.” Maybe your parents asked you to stop being “lazy” when it came to those chores you simply couldn’t keep track of or your homework you left to the last minute. If you were hyperactive, you may have been called “a chatterbox” in high school one too many times, or even worse, a “hot mess.”
When people misunderstand the symptoms of ADHD and how they differ between the sexes, the girls and women who struggle with this very real condition often end up feeling alone and inherently flawed. It’s no wonder that adolescent girls with ADHD are more likely to struggle with social difficulties and have a poor self-concept compared to boys with ADHD and women without ADHD.1 And, as adults, women with ADHD are more likely to experience low self-esteem compared to men with ADHD and women without ADHD.2 Most of this misunderstanding boils down to outdated criteria in assessing ADHD.
Does ADHD Present Differently in Females?
Because the common criteria people look for when assessing ADHD tends to focus around hyperactive boys, many girls get missed. ADHD most commonly presents itself in females as inattentiveness.3 By adulthood, many women will have developed a variety of coping mechanisms to mask their ADHD, making the condition even harder to address. To make this easier, we’ve developed a simple checklist of the most common ADHD symptoms in women. We’ve also included some data around the under-diagnosis of women to help you understand why you may have been missed, some common masking tools you may already use to hide your condition, and some ways to get help if you suspect you have ADHD.