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ADHD in women: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

ADHD in women: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

ADHD is a common disorder that affects the cognitive functioning of the brain. This disorder can affect any individual. However, females are more prone to this disorder as compared to the males. Affected females exhibit more symptoms of inattentiveness as compared to the others. However, if you want to know more about ADHD in women, then read this guide. You will surely know the ADHD symptoms in women and all other amazing facts related to female ADHD

ADHD in women

ADHD stands for Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders that alters a person’s behavior. ADHD can affect both men and women. However, children and women are mostly affected by this disorder. The onset of symptoms occurs in childhood but can persist to adulthood. Women suffering from ADHD mostly remain undiagnosed due to several factors. 

ADHD symptoms in women

ADHD symptoms in men or children are the same as the ADHD symptoms in women. The major difference lies in the expressivity of the symptoms. The extent of symptoms also depends on the inner physiological condition of the body. Some common ADHD symptoms in girls include:

  1. Most often forgetfulness
  2. Lack of passion
  3. Loss of ability to concentrate on vital tasks
  4. Sudden rise in anger
  5. More distraction
  6. Strong feelings of restlessness
  7. Talkative behavior
  8. Nervousness on some occasions
  9. Difficulty in multitasking
  10. Occurrence of Eating disorder
  11. Addiction to certain things

ADHD symptoms in adult women

ADHD symptoms in teenagers or adult women do not show any apparent differences. However, the intensity of ADHD symptoms in adult women is more noticeable in adulthood. Their recognition becomes easy when they fail to sustain their relationships. Moreover, poor job performance is also a major indicator of the onset of ADHD symptoms in adult women. The most common signs ADHD woman in adults include:

  1. Extreme inattentiveness
  2. More interruption
  3. Making the careless mistakes
  4. Intense shaking of hands
  5. Preference for isolation
  6. Few symptoms of psychosis

How to get diagnosed with ADHD as a woman?

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, then you are more prone to this disorder. You can also self-diagnose the ADHD symptoms by considering your stress factors. However, if you want the best treatment for ADHD, then you should consult professional and skilled therapists. They can perfectly analyze the ADHD symptoms and can provide you the professional care.

Moreover, skilled mental health experts can differentiate ADHD from other mental disorders. Most of the ADHD symptoms overlap with the symptoms of other mental issues. For example, hyperactivity is entirely the same in both ADHD and sensory processing disorders. Therefore, professionals can judge better with the help of their experience.

Read More: Is eating disorder a mental illness?

Types of ADHD in women

There are three different types of female ADHD which include:

Inattentive Type ADHD

Females with inattentive ADHD are devoid of abilities that assist them in focus or concentration. Although, the signs of hyperactivity are not obvious in this type. If teenage girls do not show focus on their studies, then both parents and teachers consider them stubborn. Instead of treating their situation, they often scold them.

Hyperactive Type ADHD

This ADHD type involves extremely hyperactive behavior. The occurrence of hyperactivity is the actual representation of ADHD in women. Hyperactivity is also linked with interruptive behavior. Teenage girls interrupt their fellows or friends and face more quarreling.

Combined Type ADHD

Combine type ADHD involves the symptoms of both types. This type not only affect the brain but also the behavior. Affected females can judge the presence of this type based on the duration of symptoms. If the ADHD symptoms persist for about five to six months, then it can become a combined type of ADHD. 

Causes of ADHD

The exact cause of ADHD in women is unknown. However, the major causes of ADHD in women include:

Genetic factors

Different studies have supported the fact that ADHD tends to run in families. A single gene is not involved in the development of female ADHD. Different genetic factors are responsible for the onset of this disorder. The dopamine D5 receptor gene and D4 receptor gene VNTR are considered more responsible for onset as compared to other genetic factors.

Environmental stress factors

The most common environmental factors that can develop this disorder are the following:

  1. Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
  2. Complications in pregnancy
  3. Heavy metals
  4. Anxiety
  5. Depression

Abnormal brain changes

ADHD symptoms in adult women can cause various negative alterations in the brain. Brain analysis of ADHD patients and normal individuals can explain the major differences. Furthermore, the size of the ADHD brain is shorter compared to the normal one. Likewise, an imbalance in neurotransmitters can also occur.

ADHD Misdiagnosis in Women

ADHD occurs in both men and women. Moreover, women are majorly affected by this disorder as compared to men. ADHD is usually diagnosed in women due to the presence of multiple symptoms. Most of the females usually consider that they are just suffering from anxiety or depression. Moreover, they also consider that they have the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or any other mental disorder. However, they are unable to diagnose the ADHD.

Gender bias issues

As compared to women, ADHD is more diagnosed in men and children. There is a strong belief of some persons that ADHD only affects children. Therefore, gender bias becomes a major obstacle in accurate diagnosis of ADHD in women. Lack of attention and responsiveness are common in this disorder. However, in females, inattentiveness is considered daydreaming. Moreover, aggressive behavior and lack of useful response are considered as their chattiness.

Age factor

Age also plays a major role in the misdiagnosis of ADHD in women. If the woman is 40 years old or older, then the rate of misdiagnosis is also increased. Hormonal fluctuations, stress, anxiety, depression, and abuse of medicines are also considered more as compared to any mental illness such as ADHD.

Environmental Stimuli

Women also avoid their symptoms of ADHD. Due to environmental stress factors, they question their innate capabilities which men don’t do. Instead of considering their emotional disturbance and the underlying main reasons, they just exhibit their anger and intense emotions. Their hostile behavior also becomes a reason for their misdiagnosis of ADHD.

Due to such issues, women usually face more difficulty in diagnosing and managing their ADHD symptoms. However, to initiate any advantageous therapeutic procedure, it is extremely essential to first diagnose the actual symptoms. Despite this, ADHD symptoms persist in them and they face major challenges in their life.

Primarily, different studies have reported that the ratio of diagnosis is higher in males as compared to females. This is due to the greater misdiagnosis of ADHD in women. Males show more susceptibility as compared to females and, therefore get diagnosed more.

ADHD differences in Men and Women

Some symptoms of ADHD in men and women show a resemblance. Both have identical feelings of being overwhelmed and fatigued. However, based on a few symptoms, it can be stated that ADHD is quite distinct.  Moreover, the presentation of symptoms is also distinct in both genders.

Males exhibit more impulsivity and hyperactive behavior as compared to females. Therefore, they express more anger due to intense mood swings. In addition, they are also more impatient. While on the other hand, females are more likely to suffer from inattentiveness. As they are affected by the inattentive type of ADHD as compared to other types.

Due to this type, they face difficulty in focusing on productive life aspects. Furthermore, they also feel the undesirable hindrance in organizing things. The presence of inattentive ADHD also elevates their shyness in society. In addition, their close persons misjudge them as their natural personality traits. Likewise, males are capable of coping with the effects of emotional dysregulation. Teenage females cannot effectively deal with their anger or emotions. Although they don’t show extreme anger like boys, but experience an increased rate of anxiety or depression.

How does ADHD present itself in females?

The presence of ADHD in teenage girls is somehow complex as compared to teenagers. Disruptive behavior, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are more obvious in teenage females.

Inattention symptoms

Teenage girls are unable to complete their school tasks. Their productivity is also decreased to a greater extent. Moreover, their interest in social activities also gets decreases. They become habitual in making careless mistakes in school or college.

Adult women also fail to succeed in their professional lives. They are less punctual and unable to attend the meetings on time. They also forget their appointments and are unable to balance their personal and professional life.

Over attention

Some females with ADHD are also directed towards overconcentration. They only focus on certain things without thinking about other things. The situation gets worse when they only focus on less constructive factors. So ADHD can also result in a hyperfocus situation which can be harmful in some ways.

Hyperactive symptoms

Hyperactivity is also more evident in teenage girls. Affected girls show more impatient behavior. They can not sit in one position and feel pleasure in random movements. Moreover, they also feel the restlessness condition. Most of the time, racing thoughts also appear in their minds without any apartment reason. Furthermore, excessive use of social media, extra-talkative behavior, and slurred speech also occur.

Impulsivity symptoms

Impulsivity in women and ADHD symptoms are closely related to each other. The presence of ADHD in women directs their minds to making false statements. They don’t think before speaking anything. Due to increased impulsivity, they have to bear the different negative consequences. The most common impulsivity symptoms include:

  1. More shipping can lead to several financial problems.
  2. An increased rate of impulsive behavior can make you a victim of bullying in your school, college, or university.
  3. They always seek pleasure in becoming a source of distraction for others. However, due to their lack of concentration, they also get distracted easily.
  4. Couples with ADHD can also experience risky sexual behavior. If they are unaware, different sexually transmitted diseases can occur.


Menopause is the stage that involves the complete stop of menstrual cycle. After 35 or 40 years of age, the symptoms of perimenopause appear. At this stage, the estrogen level is also altered. A decrease in estrogen levels can result in different irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Menopause not only affects the physiological condition but also affects the brain. ADHD in women also has reduced memory retention and difficulty focusing.

Some possible benefits of ADHD

ADHD in women can pose various physiological harms, but still have some advantages:


Females suffering from ADHD gain more creative abilities with time. As they make themselves busy with different tasks, they become more innovative. They can better solve the arising issues of their life. Their experience increases their creativity and assists them in their personal and professional relationships.

Courageous behavior

ADHD can also act as a major source of confidence as females with ADHD are never afraid of anything. They don’t consider any obstacle. They can do anything whatever they want and enjoy their life to the fullest. Different researchers have suggested that their courage is due to their responsive behavior and spontaneity. They feel pleasure in doing different life adventures.

Elevate Energy

Symptoms of hyperactivity can also result in the elevation of inner energy. ADHD females can effectively participate in different extracurricular activities. They utilize their extreme energy in different physical activities. They feel that they have sufficient energy to meet the needs of the environment. Ultimately, they get benefits in various life aspects.

Hyperfocus nature

Such females are also known as superwomen due to their superpowers of ADHD. ADHD in females increases their concentration ability. They can spend hours thinking about anything without getting tired. Hyperfocusing can increase their extent of productivity in different life activities.

Some possible complications of ADHD in women

Numerous medical conditions can worsen ADHD symptoms in women.

Hormonal fluctuations

Hormonal changes during puberty are natural in females. Likewise, the menstrual cycle in females also results in different changes in the body. Under the effect of hormonal changes, females face more difficulty with ADHD.

Furthermore, there is also a strong association between estrogen and ADHD. Estrogen is a major sex hormone that controls the reproductive cycle. Increased estrogen levels cause the release of different neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. However, the low levels of estrogen can elevate the ADHD symptoms.

Pregnancy Complications

Normal levels of progesterone during pregnancy can provide benefits to both women and developing children. If the progesterone level gets disturbed, various complications can occur. The probability of symptom severity is increased during the second and third trimesters. If the situation persists, then it can affect the brain development of the fetus. Moreover, various other birth defects can also occur.

Side Effects of Medications

If the medications are used in excessive amounts without the physician’s recommendation, then the following side effects can occur:

  1. Gastrointestinal issues
  2. Reduced appetite
  3. Anxiety or depression
  4. Disturbance in the reproductive cycle
  5. Issues in the sleep-wake cycle
  6. Cardiac issues
  7. Breathing problems
  8. Random mood swings
  9. Dizziness
Treatment for ADHD in women

Various secure and effective treatment methods can treat ADHD in women. Medication management is also significant for ADHD. The most widely used methods include:

ADHD medication for women

All the medicines are not effective for every person. Appropriate physician’s suggestion is necessary before the intake of any medicine. It should also be considered that medicines will not completely remove the disease’s symptoms. Intake of recommended medicines in a gradual manner can assist in reducing ADHD symptoms. Moreover, medicines work more when they are used along with other therapies. Inattentiveness can be easily controlled and other effects can also reduced with time. The following medicines are most commonly used:

  1. Ritalin
  2. Amphetamine
  3. Atomoxetine
  4. Guanfacine
  5. Viloxazine
  6. Clonidine
  7. Dexedrine
  8. Evekeo
  9. Zenzedi
  10. Focalin
  11. Vyvanse
  12. Dynavel XR
  13. Adzenys XR-ODTC
  14. Concerta
  15. Metadate CD
  16. Aptensio-XR

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The appropriate ADHD therapy involves consultation with a professional therapist. Different talk therapy sessions assist the parents in improving their organizational skills. A person can then easily regulate the different life tasks. Therapists create a secure environment, so patients can share their disturbing thoughts and emotions. With each therapy session, they learn diversified problem-solving skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy also boosts theur confidence and self-esteem. Ultimately they get familiar with all useful ways to develop healthy relationships with the family or loved ones. Persons can effectively deal with different personal and professional life challenges.

Family Therapy

This therapy is also as beneficial as the cognitive behavioral theory. Family members can better understand the stress factors that can cause ADHD in women. Parents are more aware of the nature of children. Similarly, partners can also guide each other regarding the coping strategies for ADHD.

Read More: Can anxiety cause nausea? What’s their association?

Social Skills training

Most of the young females are unable to engage in social activities. They prefer to stay alone instead of engaging in different social activities. Social skills training is vital for their social life training. After getting this training, they can learn how to behave in different social situations. Social skills training can positively alter a person’s behavior.

Other Lifestyle changes

Other than medications or therapies, some significant life alterations can also treat or prevent ADHD in women.


People with ADHD should focus on the absolute nutrition. A healthy and balanced diet can make your brain stronger. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid foods that can increase the cholesterol in your body. Moreover, you can also consult a professional dietician to make a healthy diet plan.


If you add supplements to your diet, you can achieve optimal health results. Omega 3 fatty acids are considered effective in improving the symptoms of ADHD. In addition, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin D etc provide the major health benefits. Before using any supplement, it is recommended to consult an expert. Excess of supplements can also cause different adverse health effects.  To prevent health issues, mild usage of supplements within a recommended time frame is required.

Regular Workout

Exercise is highly beneficial to strengthen the brain and soul. A daily 15 to 20-minute exercise can enhance your brain functioning. Epinephrine, dopamine, and acetylcholine are released in the body. These neurotransmitters can improve the ability to focus on each detail.

Last thoughts

ADHD is a complex neurocognitive disorder. This disorder can affect men, women, and children. ADHD in women is somehow different from ADHD in others. Furthermore, most of the females remain undiagnosed with the ADHD symptoms. However, the different useful therapeutic procedures can treat ADHD in women. If you know any women who are suffering from this disorder, then consult with the Inland Empire Behavioral group experts. They can perfectly analyze the symptoms of ADHD and provide the best treatments.

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Dr. Reri Uku


Dr. Reri Uku is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC). Her expertise lies in her ability to provide quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health
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As an adjunct faculty at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), she values interdisciplinary education and inter-professional collaboration for a student-centered learning approach to provide safe and effective patient care.

She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Azusa Pacific University in 2018 and her Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner from National University in 2019. She graduated from California State University, San Bernardino master’s program with majors in Nurse Education and Advanced Community/Public Health in 2014. She became a registered nurse in 2010 and her background includes experiences in Medical Surgical Nursing, Neurology, Oncology and Psychiatry.

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Adaobi M Adimorah


Adaobi Adimorah is a highly skilled and professional psychiatrist. Adaobi is significantly contributing to commendable health care services at the  Inland Empire Behavioral Group in Riverside, California. Furthermore, her services at the Brainiac Medical Corporation in Colton, California are also breathtaking. She started her academic career with her Associate degree in Nursing at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Newi. Then Adaobi grabbed more excellence with her graduation in Nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. Later on, Adaobi pursued his academic career and got a Doctorate in Nursing from the Psychiatric Mental Health Specialization Center.

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Dr. Carla Chambers Hammond, M.D. is a competent psychiatrist.

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