ADHD in Women 101

What is ADHD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). There are three subtypes of ADHD:

  1. Hyperactive/Impulsive Subtype: mainly hyperactive or impulsive symptoms including impatience, difficulty sitting still, hyper-talkative, impulsive behavior
  2. Inattentive Subtype: mainly inattentive symptoms including limited attention span, forgetfulness, distractibility, daydreaming, difficulty following directions
  3. Combined Subtype: both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms.

Read more about Common ADHD Symptoms in Women here.

Our perspective: Own it!

Labels such as “disorder” or “deficit” can be damaging, so part of our work at Kaleidoscope Society is about reframing how we define and discuss the topic. We encourage our community to remember that labels only have power to limit us if we give them permission to. We believe ADHD does not make us flawed or broken. We are unique and our differences can be a source of compassion and power. We encourage those with ADHD to get connected with the support they need, learn about ADHD, and build on their strengths so they can show up as their best selves, and thrive at work and in life.

ADHD is real and has it’s challenges, but there are also many reasons to be proud. Here are a few:


Why are we focusing this site on Women?

50-75% of women with ADHD go undiagnosed

Women and girls are less likely to be diagnosed because ADHD presents itself differently physiologically and socially. Young girls may exhibit hyperactivity differently than boys, and girls are also more likely than boys to suffer from inattentive ADHD. The symptoms of the inattentive subtype tend to be less disruptive and obvious than those of hyperactive ADHD. A hyperactive boy who repeatedly bangs on his desk will be noticed before the inattentive girl who daydreams while staring out the window. (source: Additude Magazine)

Delay in diagnosis is life damaging

Research shows that ADHD manifests itself differently in females and it’s estimated that 50-75% of women with ADHD go undiagnosed. This leaves 4 million women to suffer in silence, causing life damaging consequences. Delay or lack of appropriate diagnosis and treatment can result other conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, learning disabilities, OCD, PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction and eating disorders. (Source: NAMI)

The female experience is invisible

ADHD is commonly associated with children and men yet 4% or 6 million adult women live with ADHD. Women face unique challenges due to lack of scientific knowledge, resources, or public understanding. Stigma leads many women with ADHD to stay silent about their experiences feeling alone, confused and misunderstood.

There’s a rapidly growing need

Adult women with ADHD between the ages of 24 to 36 are the fastest growing population undergoing treatment for ADHD. In the last 5 years the use of ADHD medication by this age group of women increased by 85%. There is a growing group of millennial women who are searching for relatable and relevant resources for their experiences.


Think you may have ADHD?

  1. Learn more about ADHD symptoms and the diagnosis process from the National Resource Center on ADHD.
  2. Take ADDitude Magazine’s ADHD Self-Test for Women, created by By Sari Solden M.S., L.F.M.T. Completing this do-it-yourself symptom checklist will give you a better idea of whether you may have adult ADHD or not.
  3. If you think you may have ADHD, find a mental-health professional in your area for a complete assessment.


Just Diagnosed?

  1. Work with a trained professional to set up a treatment / therapy plan that works for you. Find a mental health professional in your area here.
  2. Take time for self-care and get connected with the resources you need.
  3. Hear from other women who have similar experiences. It can be a healing and relieving process to know you’re not alone and to have explanations for your unique way of being.


Further Reading on ADHD in women


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