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Inattentive ADHD in Women

ADHD can look very different in women than in men, and the Inattentive presentation of ADHD is the most common presentation in women.

Inattentive ADHD in Women: Signs and Symptoms

Hopefully you’ve read enough on this blog and through the resources I’ve provided to have a basic understanding of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD: formerly known as ADD). If not, please click the link above for a basic primer. With some research showing that the ratio of males to females with ADHD is as high as 4:1, you may be wondering what are Inattentive ADHD symptoms in adult women and if you are an adult woman reading this you might be wondering to yourself “Do I have ADHD?”

Adult Women With Inattentive ADHD Experience High Levels of Stress

Having Inattentive ADHD as an adult woman can be even more difficult than having it as a man. Because in childhood boys are far more likely to be identified as having ADHD, they are also more likely to have received treatment for it.

Many symptoms of women with inattentive ADHD were overlooked when they were children, so they didn’t learn important coping, time management, and other executive functioning skills early on. So by the time they reach adulthood, women with ADHD are more stressed than men, if only because they don’t have all the necessary tools in their toolkit to address the areas in which they struggle.

"You need to ask yourself, “How can I make my life work? How can I make my relationships work? How can I make my career meaningful?” If it means doing things a bit differently than other people, then be different; it takes courage to break through the barriers of shame and guilt to ask for support."- Sari Solden

Social Stereotypes Impact Misdiagnosis or Underdiagnosis of Inattentive ADHD in Women

Social stereotypes play a role in why women are under-diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD. Some characteristics of Inattentive ADHD may be more likely to be interpreted as “shy” or “ditzy” personality traits, and these traits are unfortunately more often attributed to women than men, so many women don’t realize they have Inattentive ADHD. In addition, women are more likely than men to have their inattentive symptoms be misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression, and may have struggled for years in treatment for a mood disorder when in fact the ADHD was the main driver of their unhappiness.

Again, gender stereotypes reflect how symptoms of Inattentive ADHD in women can look different than in men as societal expectations of women are different than those of men.

Signs of Inattentive ADHD in women may look like forgetting birthdays, having trouble getting the kids to school on time, feeling like you’re drowning in work tasks or home chores, not wanting to have guests or company come over because the house looks cluttered or messy, thinking that no matter what you do the paperwork on your desk never seems to go down. .

Resource: ADHD in Women Symptoms Checklist. There’s an excellent “ADHD in Women Symptoms Checklist” at ADDitude that I recommend checking out. It’s not meant to be a diagnostic tool or ADHD test, but it can provide more information to you if you think you might have Inattentive ADHD.

And if all this isn't enough- because ADHD has a genetic component and can be passed down through the family, many women with ADHD also have children with ADHD, making the situation even more stressful and difficult as women are often the primary caretakers. .

If you are a woman struggling with ADHD and are looking for coping mechanisms, tips and tricks, or common tools for managing life with ADHD feel free to contact me via the button below and I’d be happy to set up a free consultation to discuss how I can be of help, or have a quick brainstorm of potential solutions. I’m also available for longer conversations and to help to assess if you have ADHD.


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