Let's talk about how ADHD can present differently in different people (stick with me--there is a reward at the end of this post)!
There are a ton of symptoms that are a part of ADHD, and not every person with ADHD experiences all of them. Females may not even show their symptoms, or mask them to fit in with peers.
There have been a lot of adults, and specifically adult women, that are being diagnosed lately. Women in their late twenties, thirties, forties-- even fifties are just now being diagnosed with ADHD.
One of the reasons for this recent trend is there hasn't been as much research done on females with ADHD as males. Women (myself included) are just now discovering that their symptoms are part of a disorder, and due to a brain that is wired “differently.”
Females may have an easier time masking their symptoms because from a very early age girls are taught that they need to be polite, agreeable, and well- behaved. They need to behave like a lady. Females often experience hyperactivity and impulsivity in the form of internal thoughts and fidgeting (hair touching, feet moving, impulsive shopping, messing with their cuticles, etc) versus outwardly showing signs of hyperactivity. They typically aren’t running around and jumping off the walls like the rambunctious little boy you think of when you think of ADHD. For these reasons and more, girls have historically been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with things like bi-polar, anxiety, and depression. The truth is, many times anxiety and depression are comorbidities with ADHD. Manic states of bi-polar have many of the same symptoms as ADHD (more on that later). This means that people with ADHD can also have anxiety and/or depression WITH their ADHD.
Little girls are usually able to get by until they reach puberty, but then the symptoms start to show more. The grades may start slipping, their executive functioning starts, well, not functioning, they start to feel socially different from their peers, and their emotional reactions seem more intense. You can imagine how this would increase someone’s anxiety and depression!
Meanwhile, they are feeling the pressure that society puts on them to act like a “good girl.” This is a very difficult way to live life, and it's not just girl girls that go through this. Anyone who is misdiagnosed or undiagnosed is compensating for their disorder (I hate using that word) in some fashion, whether they are aware of it or not, and having to go through life attempting to assimilate with neurotypicals. They feel different from others but can't quite figure out why. They may struggle to memorize things, not be able to relax for 5 days straight and then not be able to move off the couch by day 6. They may experience strong emotional reactions, especially when they are faced with criticism, real or perceived. Loved ones often take the brunt of their emotional lashings (bursts of anger, low tolerance/patience when overstimulated, overly sensitive, etc). Rejection sensitive dysphoria is a very real symptom and is often seen when they feel they are being criticized or rejected, especially by someone they love. Imagine going through life receiving constant negative feedback (you’re badly behaved, talk too much, interrupt too much, are messy, lazy, stupid, don’t get good grades—this list could go on forever). Eventually that negative feedback becomes your internal monologue, and the way you view yourself. So thank goodness there has been so much more research and attention on this disorder, because having a name for the way your brain works gives you a sense of peace and understanding that one simply cannot experience otherwise.
Did you make it this far? Well, if you did, you are fantastic. If not, you may have ADHD like us! Here is a reward for you anyway: https://www.thriceexceptional.com/discount/CJ2ZMXZM9GVH