What is ADHD?
First, let’s start with what ADHD is NOT:
- A mental illness
- A learning disability
- Behavioral issues
Got it? Good. It’s essential to get that out of the way and to really drive this message home.
ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects how your brain handles functions like planning and completing projects. It impairs your ability to focus and your ability to perform tasks. It makes it difficult to regulate our emotions. And it can seriously damage our sense of worth because of these self-perceived failures.
Many people think that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders only affect children. These people are wrong. Millions of adults are suffering from this condition, most often unknowingly. This is especially true for women. The problem is that ADHD presents differently between males and females. Men typically feature hyperactive symptoms. Women more often experience the inattentive type of ADHD. We were not the problem children, we were the easy kids, and because of that, our symptoms often went unnoticed.
Adults of a certain age are less likely to have received a screening as children. Our primary doctors certainly were not aware of the prevalence and lifelong issues associated with a neurodiverse condition. This article will focus on the sneaky ways that ADHD affects women. Since we are far less likely to receive a diagnosis, going over the signs is crucial.
How to Recognize the Signs of Undiagnosed ADHD in Women
- Do you get overwhelmed by large gatherings and noisy environments?
- Do you make a to-do list every day, get overwhelmed and then get no tasks done?
- Are you wondering how other people manage their adulting when it’s so hard for you?
- Do you spend all of your time just trying to keep it all together, never getting to relax?
- Are you spending most of your day looking for things or constantly catching up?
- Do you feel like life is too big, with too many demands that you can’t possibly meet?
How undiagnosed ADHD affects your life
Plenty of women with ADHD don’t know they have it. They often don’t recognize any of the signs and think their behavior is normal for them. Unfortunately, we usually base our sense of worth on how much we get done. Since ADHD impairs your abilities, women tend to internalize the symptoms of ADHD as personality flaws. Here are some traits of a woman with ADHD:
Being a quiet daydreamer
Remember scribbling and daydreaming in class? Don’t be alarmed, but if you found this so frequent that your parents and teachers noticed, it may have been a symptom of ADHD. You find it hard to stay focused during a conversation, project, or task. It can be so embarrassing to ask someone to repeat what they just said, and it can make you look foolish- especially at work.
Feeling vaguely anxious or stressed
You have the nagging feeling that you are missing something. Something important. It could be something you’re supposed to have already taken care of, or it could be the dread of starting a new task. When your brain works differently, you’re always playing catch-up, leading to constant worry and anxiety. It can lead to clinical anxiety and depression when not addressed, making clear the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in women.
Being extremely silly or ‘ditzy’
Do you have a reputation for being flighty or flaky? Have you been called ‘chatty’? Don’t worry. It’s a common symptom of ADHD in girls and women. The inability to execute plans makes meeting obligations a constant challenge. The inattention that is inherent in ADHD also makes it hard to keep track of details and follow along in conversations, which often affects how others judge our seriousness.
Lack of Motivation
That’s right, you may not be lazy! When your brain has problems creating and executing plans, it can feel overwhelming and impossible. Those aren’t compelling reasons for doing something, are they? ADHD affects motivation because it’s challenging to pay attention to something you’re not interested in. And it can be hard to know where to start.
Feelings of Shame and Inadequacy
The major problem with going undiagnosed is the effect it has on your sense of self-worth. A woman suffering from undiagnosed ADHD constantly feels like a failure. She always feels like she’s not quite catching on and constantly feels like she is not living up to her potential. It takes its toll on a woman suffering from ADHD. But the pain gets much better when you begin to understand the reasons behind your ‘failures.’
What To Do Next
If you feel that you may have ADHD, the first thing you want to do is talk to your primary physician. Before you go, write down your symptoms, and how it impacts your life, so you don’t forget or get distracted (hello, ADHD). If he disagrees, you can ask him to refer you to a psychiatrist or neurologist. They’re the professionals that are best equipped to treat you properly.
It used to be difficult for women to get diagnosed because our symptoms tend to hide in plain sight. Luckily, we are in a new era. Breakthroughs in understanding how the human brain works grant us more detailed knowledge, leading to fascinating discoveries in addressing treatments and managing symptoms. There is also more cultural support for the concept of neurodiversity. There is now an acknowledgment of the fact that each of our brains works differently.
Once you have a diagnosis, you are on your way to rediscovering your life. Everything is different after you are diagnosed. Suddenly, you will understand why you can’t seem to keep up with the world. Your mind’s perception of your character flaws can now recognize them as symptoms. Going through life without knowing you have ADHD makes it an unnecessarily more complicated and painful journey than it has to be. It impairs your life, your relationships, and your job. If you think you may have ADHD, getting diagnosed is the first step to a new life and a new you.