8 Symptoms of ADHD In Women And How To Feel Better

ADHD in Women

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in women is one of the many conditions that often go undiagnosed/misdiagnosed due to medical sexism. 

Clinical studies on ADHD were overwhelmingly based on the male model. This has led to a lack of awareness of how symptoms show up in women and girls. Women and girls with the condition are often dismissed as “hysterical” or “exaggerating” or even accused of flat out lying (sad, but true).

Girls are more likely to have “inattentive” as opposed to the “hyperactive” ADHD often seen in boys. Let’s get to some ADHD symptoms that often show up in women.

8 Symptoms of ADHD In Women

  • Constantly feeling overwhelmed – There’s always too much going on in your mind that it feels overwhelming. You are afraid that your life is out of control.
  • Difficulty to stay focused – Unless you are the one talking, your mind seems to drift away during conversations. It is difficult to concentrate on one task even for a few minutes. 
  • Difficulty in staying organized – It’s next to impossible to stay organized and you often feel embarrassed when you have other people come over because of this.
  • Forgetfulness – You have a terrible, almost non-existent memory. You might even forget what you were saying mid-conversation. You have difficulty following instructions that were given 5 minutes back.
  • Talks a lot – You have a tendency to talk a lot. You get carried away while speaking and find it hard to stop even when you are asked to stop talking or pay attention. You might have been called a “chatterbox” during your school years.
  • Seemingly small things irritate you – Seemingly small things often trigger an overwhelming reaction from you. You may be constantly accused of “over-reacting” or being “hysterical”.
  • Tends to avoid social situations – Light-hearted social interactions seem to annoy you. It’s too much hard work trying to act like everyone else. 
  • Unable to act on your goals – You have excellent ideas but it seems impossibly hard to act on them. It’s almost as if invisible chains are binding you from taking the  action you know you need to take.

If you seem to identify with a bit too many of these points, then you could have ADHD. 

A Little Bit About ADHD in Women

ADHD is among the most prevalent childhood developmental disorders according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is widely undiagnosed in women due to sex differences in presentation.

It is thought to be caused by genetic factors, premature birth, exposure to harmful substances like pesticides in early childhood and traumatic brain injury. Pregnant women experiencing moderate to extreme levels of stress can contribute to ADHD in the child as well. 

 ADHD does not suddenly develop in adulthood, although it is possible for the symptoms to be first noticed in adulthood. There is no known method so far to cure ADHD. But, it is definitely possible to manage ADHD and live a content and fulfilling life.

So let’s get into some tips that can help you manage ADHD well.

1. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is truly nature’s magical healer. I truly believe that a healthy sleep cycle is where all healing starts.

So how many hours a day should you sleep? Eight hours, minimum.

ADHD is characterized by difficulty to stay focused. A consistent lack of sleep can heavily worsen the problem. In fact, with consistent sleep deprivation, even otherwise focused and bright individuals can develop issues with attention.

Here are a few tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Consistent sleep routine – Make a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday. This will greatly help to support your circadian rhythm and over time, you will find it easier to fall asleep on time, and avoid that nighttime overthinking cycle of doom.
  • Room temperature – To fall asleep easily, our core needs to release heat and cool down. The ideal room temperature for sleep is said to be from 16 to 20 degree Celsius. This too, is based on the male model, so your ideal temperature might be a few degrees higher. Anything above 27 degree Celsius can disturb sleep.
  • Exposure to blue light – Morning sunlight is rich in light that falls in the blue wavelength part of the spectrum. As a result, over millions of years of evolution, our brains have learnt to categorize blue light as a signal to stay awake. A majority of LED lights emit light of the blue wavelength. Exposure to this light can have an adverse effect on ease of falling asleep. 
  • Good exercise – As any fitness freak can tell you, good exercise, the kind that gets you all sweaty and tired, can help you sleep like a baby. Make sure to choose an exercise routine keeping in mind your  own health!

2. Let Go of Guilt

The hardest part of dealing with ADHD is the guilt and the shame. It is so central to keeping the downward spiral going that I almost wanted to put it first on this list!

With ADHD, it is easy to internalize the labels others can give you. You might start to think of yourself as “too lazy”, “irresponsible”, “wasting time” and so on…And blanketing all this guilt and shame and lack of self-esteem is a haunting confusion as to what is so wrong with you that you can’t do things that others seem to do so easily!

The best thing you could do for yourself right now would be to let go of this guilt. It wasn’t your fault. You did your best with what you could. In fact, trust me, you put in more effort and resilience to hold on than most people who look down on you.

You are reading this article because you haven’t given up. You could have given up on trying to improve. It would have been easier to just give up and believe yourself a failure. Yet, you didn’t. And that’s what matters.

Now, go on and give yourself the credit you deserve. Be proud! The next time you feel the guilt creeping up on you, remind yourself that you never gave up on you and that is itself a testament to your resilience and courage.

3. Avoid All Level Up Advice!

Now, this might sound counter-productive. After all, trying to make things better is why you are here, isn’t it?!

But hear me out! 

A lot of “level up” advice on the internet paint an unrealistic picture of a perfect life that no one will ever have. 10 step skincare routines, journaling, affirmations, an hour-long workout on top of having a full-time job is more likely to leave you drained than make you feel fulfilled.

This is not only unattainable, but can leave you feeling inadequate when nothing is wrong! Add to that the heavy-edited images you’ll have yourself compared to is bound to make the healthiest, happiest person depressed. 

When you have ADHD, it can trigger already existing feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

4. Consistency is Key

Consistency is key to pretty much everything, but especially with ADHD.

Whether we consciously form a habit or not, our brain automatically cements certain things that we always do or always think of. With ADHD, sometimes even just getting up from the place you normally sit in can feel overwhelming.  

Where no amount of sheer willpower or guilt seems to help, consistency will come to your help. Having something positive, even a small action, that you do consistently is a great start. It will provide a foundation, a routine that can immensely help to feel more in control of your life.

But be careful to start with extremely small, hardly noticeable changes. Too much too soon can trigger strong resistance!

Start with something as small as keeping a belonging you use daily at the same place everyday. 

Oh! And it takes on an average 21 days for a habit to stick, so hang on for those 3 weeks!

5. Cut Out the Negativity

Joyful thoughts and energetic actions need space to come into your life. And to make space, cutting out the negative is crucial.

Practicing to stop negative self-talk the moment you notice it, will go a long way. This should happen consistently, over and over, until it becomes automatic, before you can fill that space with positive notes.

Also, stay far, far away from people who always complain or gossip. Positivity is a choice. When something goes wrong, we can either complain or take action to make it better or find a way around it. People who choose to complain are not the ones who should get the chance to influence your choices.

6. Change Your Environment

This one might just be the hardest, but it might also be the most drastic change-driver, precisely because it is hard.

And for now, it should be the goal, the final step in leaving behind ADHD.

A new environment can force us out of our set ways and automatic responses. And it is very difficult to heal in a space that made you sick to begin with. 

Think of the one thing that you dread the most in your life right now. Is that a job you absolutely hate? Or that course that just drags on draining all of your energy? Do you have family members or friends who always leave you feeling worse after every interaction?

Once you identify your worst environment, that is the one you change. Yes, it will be hard, but it will never be as hard as we fear.

Set your sight on a new, better place/situation that you’d like, one that inspires you, and single-mindedly focus all your efforts on reaching there. You will definitely make it.

All The Best!

No time is too late to start over and no condition is too dire to stifle dreams. It may at times feel like the progress is too slow, but all real progress is slow. 

You will meet new, amazing people and have new dreams that absolutely inspire you. You will have good luck beyond your wildest dreams, and all you need to do is to not give up.


*Disclaimer: This post should not be used as a substitute for standard medical diagnosis. This website is not authorized to give any qualified medical advice. Please consult a qualified medical professional for all decisions pertaining to your health. 

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