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ADHD in Females – How to recognize it

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When thinking of ADHD, most can recall the hyperactive, talkative, and impulsive boy from school but few will recall the girl with these characteristics. One could say that school aged girls don’t have ADHD, but that would be a huge mistake. That’s because girls present with symptoms that most people do not associate with ADHD. This results in a diagnostic gap between genders and leaves females without proper treatment. That is why we want to talk about how to recognize ADHD in females. 

To begin with, it is necessary to clarify that ADHD can present in many different ways and is classified into three different types:

  • Inattentive / distractible type (daydreamers, distractible, and forgetful individuals)
  • Impulsive/hyperactive type (rumbunctious, impulsive, hyperactive individuals)
  • Combined type (with characteristics of both types).

In women, the most common type (although not exclusive) is the inattentive/distractible type. This brings us to the next point…

What are the symptoms of ADHD in females? 

Young girls

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The typical girl with ADHD will be referred to as a daydreamer, distracted, unmotivated, or lazy. They often daydream, have difficulty concentrating because they are easily distracted, staring at the teacher or their parents, and yet give the impression of not paying attention. All these symptoms can go unnoticed because they are less disruptive. Unfortunately, these symptoms all get attributed to personality rather than a treatable medical condition. 

Adult women

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If ADHD was not detected in childhood or adolescence, an undiagnosed adult may seek help after noticing symptoms in themselves. Often, this occurs after a family member or friend was recently diagnosed with ADHD,  or due to the individual having marked difficulty in keeping up with work or chores. Challenges include difficulty fulfilling important tasks and achieving personally set goals. Unfortunately, many also go on to develop anxiety and depression.


ADHD – Underdiagnosed but not infrequent

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ADHD in women far from being a rare condition is highly underdiagnosed. The first symptoms manifest during childhood and the longer the diagnosis is delayed, the greater the repercussions this condition will have on the life of those who suffer from it.

Diagnosis is the first step to improving the quality of life of people affected by this condition. If you suspect that you or someone close to you has ADHD, consult a specialist, if you think you have been misdiagnosed, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion. Having ADHD doesn’t have to be an impediment to leading a life of fulfillment and joy.

Author: Julieth Diaz, MD

Animo Sano Psychiatry is open for patients in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and New York. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

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