5 Challenges Facing Women with ADHD

Sep 01, 2023
 5 Challenges Facing Women with ADHD
Women with ADHD face different challenges than men. These can be associated with late or no diagnosis, differing or worsening symptoms, and more. Make sure you understand the unique situation of women with ADHD.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often misunderstood because it’s known to be a childhood condition, but it can continue or begin to affect adults as well. 

What’s more, most of the symptoms understood to be associated with ADHD are those that present in male children and men, rather than in women. This causes many challenges for women with ADHD, not to mention the problems of the symptoms themselves. 

At Black Onyx, we understand this issue, and we want to help our patients overcome these challenges in safe and effective ways. 

Our four California offices provide ADHD treatment for individuals of all genders. Peter Pham, PMHNP-BC, and Diana Bush, PMHNP-BC, understand the specific needs of women with ADHD and want to help you begin a journey of self-discovery that allows for a happier, more well-adjusted life.

Symptoms are different for women 

One of the main challenges for women with ADHD is that they don’t tend to have the most obvious symptoms of the condition, those associated with hyperactivity. These symptoms tend to present in boys and men and bring attention to these individuals, which can lead to a faster diagnosis. 

Women with ADHD are, instead, more likely to be inattentive. This means they may be easily distracted, quiet, or forgetful. These symptoms are much less noticeable, and as a result, many girls and women go undiagnosed. 

In addition, people are more likely to look for ADHD in men and boys because the condition is more recognizable in these individuals. This gender bias can cause many problems for women who are suffering in silence with their ADHD symptoms. 

Social struggles are more common 

Men and boys with ADHD sometimes struggle socially, but it’s women and girls who experience the more severe issues with socialization. They often have trouble making and keeping friendships due to inattentive behaviors and fear of rejection, and they are likely to have more negative responses in social situations.  

Unfortunately, this can lead to a number of other problems for women with ADHD. And because it is not one of the well-known side effects of the condition, many women wonder endlessly about the issue, not knowing its root cause. 

Comorbidities are common and often misunderstood 

While comorbid conditions — such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, or personality disorders — can coexist with ADHD in people of any gender, women with ADHD tend to see a high level of comorbidities. And sadly, these conditions often aren’t recognized for what they are. 

In many cases, women with ADHD and a comorbid condition may be told their secondary condition is actually the primary one while ADHD goes undiagnosed or unmanaged. Women also tend to internalize their comorbid condition, causing them not to seek help for the issue. 

Gender roles may negatively affect women with ADHD

As we know, women are often expected to be the nurturers and the caretakers in a social unit, whether this is a family or a friend group. But this kind of expectation can be difficult for anyone, especially a woman with ADHD. 

Also, coordinating the many aspects of a woman’s day-to-day life can be extremely difficult with inattentive symptoms. If she doesn’t perform to certain standards, she may face criticism, which could make her feel like a failure.

Hormonal imbalances and changes worsen ADHD symptoms

Any kind of hormonal change can affect the symptoms of ADHD, often causing them to worsen. Women in particular deal with a number of hormonal changes throughout their lives, including puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. 

And the slight fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle can also cause worsening symptoms for some women.

Realizing that you face different challenges as a woman with ADHD is a key to your overall health. To learn more about the treatment options available to you, call us or make an appointment online to visit one of our offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, or South San Francisco, California.