When we think of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, most of us picture a hyperactive kid – probably a boy – who has more energy than they know what to do with.
What we usually don’t picture is women. Women with ADHD often fall through the cracks, their symptoms not recognized by doctors who have long considered ADHD to be a male disorder. Our current definition of ADHD — hyperactive and almost exclusively male — is far too myopic. The hyperactive and impulsive subtype is common in males, but in women, it’s rare.
ADHD for women is just different. It’s not hyperactivity or impulsivity — having ADHD is feeling like you never really have it together. It’s constantly feeling anxious or even depressed; it’s a whirlwind of stress, shame and failure.
I am a woman with ADHD, and I didn’t know it until I was in high school. My mom and my aunt didn’t find out until they were nearly 50. And we aren’t the only ones.
Studies estimate that as many as 50 to 75 percent of girls with ADHD are never diagnosed. Their symptoms are overlooked or questioned by parents, doctors and teachers.