What Are the Signs of ADHD in Women or Girls?

What Are the Signs of ADHD in Women or Girls?

By  Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

The previous blog, based on Dr. Littman’s work, extends into how women can be more confident that their possible ADHD will be correctly identified.  With the correct diagnosis and then treatment, more successful help becomes possible (https://www.additudemag.com/gender-differences-in-adhd-women-vs-men/ ).

A woman with the difficulties outlined in the previous blog can ask their professional caregiver to attend to the following concerns:

  • Problems with attention, concentration, and focus
  • Tendencies toward self-blame, anxiety, depression in ways that can be ongoing
  • Emotional ups and downs (reactivity) that are hard to manage and impact relationships: anger, irritability, tears, withdrawal, for example
  • Adolescence that began somewhat late
  • Low self-esteem
  • Struggles with nutrition and food intake in healthier ways
  • Ongoing problems with relationships
  • Being perfectionistic and demanding of oneself in highly critical ways
  • Dependence on substances or tension-reducing behaviors (shopping, gambling, sexuality, video-gaming, for example)
  • Being highly sensitive to sensory stimulation (noises, smells, certain fabrics/clothing fit, visual input)
  • Restless in ways that impact daily life
  • Learning difficulties, could be with reading, math or spelling/writing
  • Picking at skin or hair
  • Premenstrual symptoms that are difficult to manage

Of equal importance is identifying girls with ADHD, since their tendency towards being inattentive without high levels of activity or impulsive behavior can make it easy to miss their difficulties. It is the more acting-out boys with ADHD who are often more easily identified. Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. has developed a brief survey to consider if a girl might have ADHD issues (https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-symptoms-test-girls/  ).  Answered by the girl (or parents’ observations perhaps):

  • I often feel like I want to cry.
  • I get a lot of stomachaches or headaches.
  • I worry a lot.
  • I feel sad, and sometimes I don’t even know why.
  • I dread being called on by the teacher because, often I haven’t been listening carefully.
  • I feel embarrassed in class when I don’t know what the teacher told us to do.
  • Even when I have something to say, I don’t raise my hand and volunteer in class.
  • Sometimes other girls don’t like me, and I don’t know why.
  • I have arguments with my friends.
  • When I want to join a group of girls, I don’t know how to approach them or what to say.
  • I often feel left out.
  • I get my feelings hurt more than most girls do.
  • My feelings change a lot.
  • I get upset and angry more than other girls do.

The more questions that are answered “yes” the higher the likelihood that ADHD is a part of a girl’s difficulties.  A professional evaluation is recommended to consider the need for more help, as well as to ensure that underlying ADHD is not mistakenly seen as more straightforward depression or anxiety.  Such evaluations are readily available.

Dr. Alan M. Solomon is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at  310  539-2772 or dralanms@gmail.com

Copyright 2018 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.