Why Does ADHD In Girls Often Go Undiagnosed?

Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC

Published 12/14/2020

Throughout psychology, ADHD, also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was almost exclusively diagnosed in young boys. The traditional ADHD symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity were perhaps only seen in males, and psychologists sometimes neglected to look further. Research is now uncovering that ADHD symptoms in girls are quite different, and therefore often undetected.  

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The lack of distinction between ADHD in boys versus ADHD in girls could have led to some warped social perceptions of female behavior. Some historical and outdated examples of this are the understanding of women being neurotic or experiencing impulsive actions. Still, these generalizations might even originate in some cases from undiagnosed cases of ADHD. These frequently undiagnosed cases of women with ADHD must be addressed to help identify and treat those experiencing this hidden disorder.  

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is considered an extremely common neurodevelopmental disorder for children. ADHD is usually noticed in children and frequently spans into adulthood. 

Generally, ADHD is initially diagnosed in the early school years. If a student is disruptive in class or has trouble focusing on assignments and homework, parents and teachers might seek professional help. 

ADHD In Women

Since ADHD is so common for young boys, it often goes undiagnosed for girls and, in particular, adult women. While various symptoms define ADHD, males and females tend to experience this disorder differently.

Gender sensitivity in diagnosing ADHD is very important because it is often diagnosed for young boys, but it can be a hidden disorder in girls. In the Journal of Clinical Psychology Session 61, Patricia O. Quinn discusses the lack of recognition of ADHD in girls and women. Women with ADHD may experience higher rates of anxiety, substance abuse, heightened moods, and learning disabilities. These indicators can be less obvious in women than the more outwardly prominent symptoms, most males with ADHD experience. 

ADHD Symptoms For Women

There are fewer specific symptoms of ADHD in adult women, which is a major reason why there are so many undetected cases in this demographic. The symptoms that exist can conflict with daily activities, causing frustration and confusion if no clear diagnosis ever comes. 

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Adult women with ADHD may have trouble making deadlines, committing to social plans, or focusing on personal projects. These disruptions of daily life can range from subtle drawbacks to exhausting inconveniences. In some cases, impulsive behavior symptoms can lead to serious mood swings or extreme impatience in minor situations. 

Women with ADHD may experience a spectrum of several to many of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Problems with time management
  • Poor organization and/or disorganized priorities 
  • Difficulty making plans and committing to plans
  • Inability to multitask
  • Trouble completing projects already started
  • Foot tapping or other incessant behavior 
  • Difficulty handling stress
  • Mood swings 
  • Problems managing temper

Causes

Though there are no distinct causations that lead to women developing ADHD, there are several correlated factors. Research has shown some life events can increase the likelihood that an individual could risk developing ADHD.

  • Genetics: In the same way brown hair and attached earlobes run in the family, sometimes so do mental disorders. ADHD can be passed down from either maternal or paternal sides of the family, increasing the likelihood of developing mental illness. 
  • Difficulty in School: Some researchhas connected school work and behavioral issues to greater risks of developing ADHD in youth and adulthood. 
  • Relationship Problems: Unstable relationships in an individual’s childhood can also lead to adult ADHD. One of the symptoms of ADHD is difficulty committing to adult partners and friends. This symptom often originates from insecurities sourced from difficult relationships from childhood experiences. 
  • Overwhelming Environment: Traumatic experiences happening around (or to) an individual can affect their mental health. Whether distressing incidents happen when someone is young or while they are an adult, it can profoundly impact their emotional capacities. It is crucial to properly address and cope with one’s anxiety and stressful situations. Disregarded emotional grief and disturbances can increase one’s risk of developing ADHD.

Treatment 

The best first step usually in treating ADHD is education and psychological counseling. Through counseling, therapists can help provide skill coaching on how to manage a successful life with ADHD. 

Educating oneself on the sources and complexity of their ADHD allows individuals to confront their particular challenges. This powerful engagement with their anxieties can help push patients forward to recovery. This education can start with an individual’s research, but the internet is filled with false information. It’s best to eventually transition to therapy, as a certified counselor will offer professional help and guidance. 

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Counseling can help treat mental illnesses like ADHD, but it does not stop there. Professional therapists can also provide a positive outlet to relieve stress, education, and helpful resources. 

If you are a woman experiencing ADHD, counseling can help improve your self-esteem, improve your relationships, and create strategies to control your impatience. As explained in this article, women with ADHD often experience difficulty focusing and organizing plans. These life impeding strains can be combated with certified tactics to help reclaim your mentally sound lifestyle. 

Therapy will also help reduce any impulsive behavior you might be subject to if you experience ADHD. Utilizing these problem-solving skills will allow you to minimize your risk of developing any other psychological disorders. Since pre-existing ADHD can be a risk factor for creating other mental illnesses, it is important to seek the professional help you need.  

Diagnosing ADHD

While there is no official medical test that can give a one-hundred percent certainty that someone has ADHD, there are clues that can lead to educated conclusions. 

Some specialists make assessments that analyze an individual’s symptoms and behaviors. Other examinations require interviews with the individual. These interviews allow the professional to deduce the symptoms, which is important in ruling out any other potential causes of the patient’s symptoms. 

The series of interviews determining ADHD for an individual sometimes approaches personal stories and history. A therapist treating a patient may break down any childhood disturbances or recent trauma that may have sparked this mental disorder. 

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of ADHD, there are some online tests available that can help shed light on surveyors’ mental health. If you or a loved one believe you may be experiencing symptoms from ADHD, try out this online, confidential test. Note that this test is not for children but focused on adults with ADHD. 

These tests are completely free and available for the public’s education and understanding of ADHD. Through trustworthy sources like our tests at Mind Diagnostics, women worldwide are being helped with problems they could not pinpoint until now. 

Lifestyle Remedies For Women With ADHD

There are lots of helpful home remedies that can improve lifestyles impeded by ADHD. Below are some great options to try out if you think you might be struggling with ADHD. 

Here are some simple options that you can introduce into your day to help manage an ADHD lifestyle. Though this list can be very helpful, trusted treatment plans must come from an official medical professional.

  • Create a routine: By following a constant day-to-day routine, you can create stability for yourself. Start your day with a morning walk or a warm cup of tea. These small consistencies will help you feel in control.
  • Make checklists: Checklists are wonderful because they allow you to visualize your tasks. Another perk to checklists is the mental cheer when checking off a chore from your checklist. 
  • Use a calendar: Keeping your appointments in a calendar is a great way to track all your upcoming projects, plans, and deadlines. This is an easy step to stay on top of your work life, social commitments, and personal schedules in a visual way. Selecting a small calendar is even better because you can carry it around can update it as new plans are made. 
  • Organize your information: Create a system that can organize your information. Establishing this organization can be on your desktop, physical filed documents, or both. 
  • Take deep breaths: By slowing down and taking deep breaths, you can take a step back and consider the emotions you are experiencing. If you feel heated and overwhelmed by an experience, focusing on your breath can help ground yourself in a situation. 

Ask for help: Oftentimes, friends, and loved ones are the greatest resources to support your mental health. Ask close friends and family members to have patience with you. 

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Seeking Help

Sometimes people do not realize they are struggling with a mental illness. Therapy can help uncover individuals’ needs and improve lifestyles. 

Due to women’s often undetected symptoms, there are tons of women and girls experiencing undiagnosed ADHD. If you think you may be one of these unnoticed cases, you should seek help from a licensed professional. You may find resources and methods that will help you lead a full life.