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ADHD in Women

ADHD has become a buzzword on social media as of late. With many TikTok therapists discussing this condition, it can be easy to self-diagnose. That's probably how you stumbled on this blog after Google searching "ADHD symptoms". While this article cannot tell you if you have or don't have ADHD, hopefully, it can serve as an educational tool. Did you know that ADHD is a mental health condition that is typically diagnosed in men? With males being 3-4x more likely to be diagnosed as an adult (CAMH, 2022). Although only 2.5% of the adult population is formally diagnosed with ADHD, this would underrepresent the population as many women are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed as adults.


If you are a woman reading this blog and are diagnosed with or suspecting the presence of ADHD, it's important to seek representation as the symptomology of ADHD greatly differs between men and women. The symptomology for males is typically expressed with hyperactive behaviour that is accompanied by externalizing behaviours that involve being extremely active, always on the go, having physical aggression, disruptive towards others etc. (CAMH, 2022). Females, however, are more likely to display internalizing behaviours (CAMH, 2022).


Here are additional signs/symptoms for women with ADHD:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Lack of time awareness

  • Being emotionally charged, leading to being easily triggered

  • Repeated jaw clenching

  • Hyperfocus on activities they are interested in

    • Can also manifest in hyper fixation on others

  • Difficulty making decisions


All of these symptoms can be amplified if one has multiple mental health conditions. Women with ADHD are more likely to have comorbid diagnoses such as anxiety, substance use disorders, and eating or mood disorders (CAMH, 2022).

Treatments:

There are numerous treatment options for helping to manage ADHD symptoms and their severity.


  • For women: Seek representation. Read or listen to the audiobook "Women with ADHD by Sari Solden MS, Michelle Frank PsyD and Ellen Littman PhD", listen to podcasts and/or join support groups.

  • Stimulant medication: allows both the re-uptake of dopamine and noradrenaline. Both of these neurotransmitters will be readily available in the brain as a result, which can help with concentration and motivation levels. An example of this is Ritalin (Low, 2020).

  • Amphetamines: Decreases the reabsorption of neurotransmitters such as dopamine which will reduce symptoms of one's ADHD. An example of this is Adderall. Estrogen can play an influence in helping regulate ADHD symptoms by decreasing anxiety, irritability, forgetfulness, and energy loss, whereas progestogen can decrease the effectiveness of medication (Low, 2020).

  • Therapy: Different forms of therapy such as Mindfulness-Based Therapy, CBT or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) can all be effective forms of therapy for helping mitigate symptoms of ADHD (Low, 2020).

**Please consult with a healthcare provider if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms associated with ADHD, to discuss the right medication for you-if medication is of interest to you**


Conclusion:

ADHD can seem like a daunting mental disorder to cope with. It is important to consult with your doctor to figure out what the right course of action is for you based on your individual needs. Using CBT or DBT approaches in therapy with a therapist, such as those provided at Blissful Balance Counselling can serve as a coping strategy for managing symptoms and their severity. Lastly, seeking representation as a woman with ADHD can be incredibly healing. It can feel isolating experiencing the often times, debilitating symptoms of this disorder. Finding a community of other women experiencing similar struggles can help one feel emotionally supported and empowered on their healing journey.




Citations:

Adult ADHD. CAMH. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.camh.ca/en/professionals/treating-conditions-and-disorders/adult-adhd

Alice. (2021, June 1.). ADHD blog. The Mini ADHD Coach. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.theminiadhdcoach.com/adhd-blog

Low, K. (2020, November 22). Understanding ways hormonal fluctuations may affect ADHD symptoms. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/treatment-for-women-with-adhd-20878


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