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Demystifying ADHD in Women: Common Symptoms, Misdiagnoses, and Treatment Options

July 21, 2023

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is often associated with children and young boys. However, what many people don’t realize is that ADHD can affect women of all ages. ADHD in women is frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression, leading to ineffective treatment plans. In this blog post, we will delve into the unique ways in which ADHD presents in women, explore the misdiagnosis of anxiety and depression, and shed light on various treatment options available.

The Masked Symptoms of ADHD in Women:

While ADHD symptoms may manifest similarly in both genders, women often experience them differently, making diagnosis and recognition more challenging. Here are some common ways ADHD presents in women:

  1. Inattentiveness instead of Hyperactivity: While boys with ADHD usually display hyperactive behaviors, girls and women tend to manifest more subtle signs of inattention. These include struggling with organization and time management, experiencing difficulty in maintaining focus, having trouble staying motivated, and constantly feeling overwhelmed by everyday tasks.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster: ADHD can contribute to emotional dysregulation in women. Women with ADHD may experience mood swings, irritability, and intense emotional responses. This volatility is often misconstrued as a mood disorder, leading to incorrect diagnoses of anxiety or depression.
  3. Social Struggles: Women with ADHD often face unique challenges in social situations. They may have difficulty maintaining friendships, feel anxious in social settings, and struggle with social cues and body language. Unfortunately, these struggles can further isolate them and contribute to feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem.
  4. The Misdiagnosis of Anxiety and Depression Due to the overlapping symptoms between ADHD, anxiety, and depression, it is not uncommon for women with ADHD to be misdiagnosed. Let’s explore why this misdiagnosis occurs and the potential consequences:
  5. Overlooking ADHD Symptoms: The symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and forgetfulness, are also symptoms of anxiety and depression. While it is always important to address anxiety and depression, mental health professionals also need to delve deeper to uncover underlying ADHD.
  6. Gender Bias: Historically, ADHD has been predominantly associated with boys and men, leading to underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of women. Gender bias in the healthcare system can contribute to women being overlooked and their ADHD symptoms being attributed solely to anxiety or depression.

Empowering Women: Treatment Options for ADHD:

Understanding the distinct ways ADHD presents in women is crucial for developing effective treatment strategies. Here are some treatment options that can greatly improve the lives of women with ADHD:

  1. Therapy: Therapeutic interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychoeducation (i.e providing evidence-based information and support around mental health issues), can be immensely beneficial for women with ADHD. Therapy can help individuals develop coping mechanisms, enhance executive functioning skills, improve self-esteem, and manage emotional dysregulation.
  2. Lifestyle Changes: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can support the management of ADHD symptoms. Regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress-reducing activities, like mindfulness or yoga, can positively impact overall well-being and facilitate symptom management.
  3. Medication: Stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate and amphetamines, are commonly prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms. These medications can help improve focus, attention, and impulse control. However, it’s important to work closely with a healthcare professional to find the right dosage and medication that suits each individual’s needs.
  4. Support Groups and Coaching: Joining support groups or working with ADHD coaches who specialize in women’s ADHD can provide valuable insights, encouragement, and concrete guidance. These resources offer a safe space to share experiences, learn coping strategies, and validate the unique challenges faced by women with ADHD.


 At BRIA, we understand the complexities of ADHD in women and have a specialized assessment, the M-ADHD Assessment, and therapy (Strategies to Manage Your Busy LIfe: Therapy for ADHD and Organization Concerns) to help women who think they may have ADHD. Don’t let your concerns hold you back – embrace a life where better is possible.


If you’re interested in learning more about ADHD in women or seeking professional guidance, contact us at www.betterbria.com.

Written By:

Dr. Ariel Dalfen

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