Why an ADHD Diagnosis Can Go "Hidden" In Women

It is estimated that 50 to 75 percent of ADHD cases in girls are missed.1 Because girls develop differently than boys, and boys are more likely to express more pronounced and hyperactive symptoms of the condition, ADHD often remains “hidden” in girls, leading many girls to become women who suffer silently with their condition.2 And even after receiving a diagnosis, they may remain perplexed because their symptoms don’t match those most commonly listed when they search for information on ADHD. There are many reasons why an ADHD diagnosis can go hidden in women and most of them revolve around a misunderstanding of how ADHD manifests differently in the sexes. If you are an adult woman who suspects you have ADHD or you’re confused by a recent diagnosis, we’ll help you understand why there is an under-diagnosis of ADHD in women, the less common signs and symptoms to look out for, as well as classic signs and symptoms you may have already noticed.  

Why Is Female ADHD Harder to Diagnose?

Research shows there are around 4 million girls and women in the U.S. who have not been formally diagnosed with ADHD, but why?3 While most ADHD diagnoses happen in childhood, girls sometimes get missed because their symptoms don’t match those most commonly listed. Where ADHD in boys commonly shows up as hyperactivity, ADHD in girls tends to show up as inattentiveness. And because most ADHD symptoms in girls escalate around puberty, around the time hyperactivity in boys often declines, the condition can get chalked up as a hormonal thing that will smooth out on its own.4 But it rarely smooths out on its own. Girls and women will often develop coping mechanisms to make up for their ADHD symptoms, such as perfectionism, working overtime, and making lists, ultimately masking their ADHD.  

As one woman with adult ADHD put it, “When you picture someone with ADHD, do you think of a hyperactive little boy, bouncing off the walls?5 Many people do. But it’s not the whole picture. ADHD also looks like me: a 30-year-old woman firmly planted on the couch.” Beyond experiencing a unique set of symptoms and challenges, women with ADHD are often misdiagnosed with another condition, like depression, anxiety disorders, or addictions. While many women with ADHD do have comorbid conditions, the ADHD may remain elusive, disempowering many women to seek the help they truly need.6  

Less Obvious Symptoms of ADHD 

ADHD is more than fidgeting or talking all the time (associated with hyperactivity) or daydreaming the day away (associated with inattentiveness). These less obvious symptoms may be red flags that you have ADHD:7

  • Hyperfocus, or getting so engrossed in a task that you tune everything out; you can still have trouble paying attention in some areas of your life, while giving undivided attention to the things you’re most passionate about

  • Time blindness, or having difficulty prioritizing time, measuring how much time a given task will take, or forgetting to plan in all aspects of a task

  • Trouble with working memory, or the tendency to forget little things

  • More emotional sensitivity and reactivity than peers

  • Sleep disturbances

Common Signs of ADHD in Women  

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of ADHD in women include:

  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed at work and often working overtime to catch up

  • Feeling overwhelmed at home with a constant fear that you haven’t stayed on top of your to-do list

  • Going the extra mile to appear “normal” to others

  • Feeling anxious at parties and other social gatherings

  • Noticing your mind wandering during conversation

  • Being confused about social rules and cues and how to navigate friendships

  • Feeling disorganized with money and bills and often overspending

  • Fearing you or your home appear like a “hot mess” and fearing judgement over clutter

  • Experiencing trouble meeting goals because you’re always playing catch up

  • Finding it hard to relax and feel content

  • Often being called a “daydreamer” or a “chatterbox”


Whether you have been officially diagnosed with ADHD or not, Brillia for Adults can help you reduce common symptoms of this condition without needing a prescription. A homeopathic formula using antibodies to the brain-specific S100 protein, Brillia for Adults is designed to enhance clarity and attentiveness and reduce anxiety, restlessness, and impulsivity. Brillia for Adults also has no contraindications, meaning you can add it to your regimen without worry. 

People who use Brillia experience the best results when they implement healthier lifestyle habits into their routine. Such habits as getting adequate sleep, following a healthy diet, controlling screen time, and practicing mindfulness have been proven to help make living with ADHD easier. Find out more how Brillia works for adults struggling with ADHD.

Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles and a mother of one. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.


References: 1https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adhdadd, 2https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/adhd-is-different-for-women/381158/, 3https://www.verywellmind.com/does-puberty-affect-adhd-in-girls-20738, 4https://www.healthline.com/health/hidden-struggles-of-a-woman-with-adhd, 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695217/, 6https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/lesser-known-adhd-symptoms, 7https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/lesser-known-adhd-symptoms

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