ADD in adult women: symptoms, situations and tips

Are you a woman who often daydreams, frequently loses things, struggles with focus, and is consistently running late? It's possible that you may have ADD. The symptoms of ADD in women are often overlooked, partly because it was historically considered a condition affecting only men. Additionally, women tend to mask ADD symptoms, making them less noticeable. I, for instance, received an ADD diagnosis (now referred to as ADHD, inattentive type) at the age of 28.

If you want to learn more about ADD or if you are an ADD woman yourself, this article is tailored for you. It provides information on ADD symptoms in women and offers practical tips for managing them. The article concludes with relatable situations that many ADD women can identify with.

Update

As of 2021, the formal diagnosis of ADD is no longer given. However, many women still carry the ADD label. Those with similar symptoms now receive an ADHD diagnosis, with the DSM-5 recognizing various presentations: (1) predominantly inattentive, (2) predominantly hyperactive, or (3) combined type. In this context, ADD is referred to as ‘ADHD, predominantly inattentive type.'

ADD women
I got diagnosed with ADD when I was 28, when I was experiencing burnout.

Recognizing ADD in Women

ADD symptoms in women often manifest more subtly than in men. Women with ADD may struggle with focus, be inattentive to details, exhibit disorganization, find it challenging to listen for extended periods, and experience memory lapses. While these symptoms can be concealed, it doesn't diminish the difficulty faced by women with ADD.

Common ADD symptoms in Women

Outlined below are some typical characteristics of ADD in women:

  • Difficulty concentrating: trouble focusing on uninteresting or challenging tasks.
  • Inattentiveness: struggles with paying attention to details and may be careless in work.
  • Easily distracted: prone to distraction by environmental stimuli, sounds, conversations, and thoughts.
  • Forgetfulness: frequently forgetting appointments, tasks, and responsibilities.
  • Organization problems: challenges in organizing daily activities and maintaining order.
  • Time management issues: difficulty estimating time and meeting deadlines.

My mind seems to have a radar for distractions. It's like I'm always on the verge of getting lost. While I excel at many things, completing projects is sometimes a struggle. It's not that I don't want to; my brain just seems to take a different highway. It's also lonely to feel that nobody truly understands what it's like inside my head, experiencing constant chaos.

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Additional ADD symptoms in adult women

  • Impulsivity: some women with ADD make impulsive decisions without considering consequences, such as impulsive spending or taking risks.
  • Emotional instability: mood swings, frustration, and feeling overwhelmed can occur, with quick emotional reactions to seemingly minor issues.
  • Problems with sustained attention: difficulty maintaining focus on less stimulating tasks.
  • Sleep problems: insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns are common.
  • Social issues: challenges in listening, communicating, and building/maintaining relationships. Some may regularly withdraw from social situations.

Every day is a battle to direct my attention to the tasks at hand. It's exhausting. Simple tasks, like following instructions, can be a massive struggle. Constantly losing things, from keys to important documents, drives me insane. I wish I didn't always feel like I'm lagging behind, but it seems like the world is always moving faster than I am.

Emotional challenges in adult ADD women

  • Perfectionism: trying to compensate for concentration problems through perfectionism, leading to stress.
  • Low self-esteem: repeated experiences of forgetfulness or underachievement may result in insecurity and lack of confidence.
  • Procrastination: postponing tasks and decisions is a common ADD symptom in women.
  • Hyperfocus: getting intensely absorbed in an activity, losing track of time, and struggling to shift attention to something else.

I struggle with the constant fear of failure and often believe that I'm not good enough. I try so hard to do my best, but sometimes it feels like my best just isn't sufficient. I continually doubt my decisions and capabilities. My lack of self-confidence can be paralyzing at times.

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Hormones might affect ADD women

The relationship between Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and hormonal fluctuations in women is a complex and multifaceted aspect that merits attention. Research suggests that hormonal changes, particularly during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, can influence the manifestation and severity of ADD symptoms in women. Fluctuations in estrogen levels, which play a crucial role in neurotransmitter regulation, may impact attention, focus, and impulse control. Some women with ADD report variations in symptom intensity during different phases of their menstrual cycle. Pregnancy and postpartum periods can also introduce hormonal shifts that potentially influence ADD symptoms. While the interplay between hormones and ADD in women is still an evolving area of study, understanding these connections may contribute to more tailored and effective interventions for managing ADD across various life stages.

ADD or just ‘quirky traits'?

When a girl or woman exhibits certain ADD-related traits, it's not always seen as a problem but rather as a personality trait. Society may perceive her as a daydreamer, forgetful, open-minded, or simply chaotic. However, this doesn't mean the woman isn't facing challenges; it's just not widely recognized by the outside world.

Late ADD diagnoses in women

Many women may not realize they have ADD symptoms, leading to late diagnoses when they encounter difficulties. I, for instance, was diagnosed at the age of 28. In our community, women over 50 often report receiving a diagnosis only later in life.

Increasing awareness of ADD in adult women

Fortunately, awareness of ADD symptoms in adults and children is growing, benefiting both men and women. I personally received my ADD diagnosis during a burnout at the age of 28. Read my story here or learn how unnoticed ADD can contribute to burnout.

Identifying with ADD – Are you a woman with ADD?

If you've landed on this page wondering if you have ADD, you likely resonate with the symptoms mentioned above. You may frequently feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, and exhausted, leading to psychological issues, energy problems, low self-esteem, and chronic stress. Daily simple tasks can pose significant challenges for ADD women.

Everyday scenarios for adult ADD women

If you identify with ADD symptoms in women, these situations may sound familiar:

  • Feeling tired all day but struggling to fall asleep at night.
  • Racing thoughts, as if you can't ‘turn off' your mind.
  • Despite efforts to clean, your desk remains cluttered.
  • Managing paperwork becomes chaotic, leading to forgetting important bills or misplacing crucial documents.
  • Fatigue in crowded places due to sensitivity to smells, sounds, and too many people.
  • Difficulty stopping work when in the zone, often crossing personal boundaries.
  • Forgetting to buy essential items like toilet paper. Oops!
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More possible experiences of ADD women

  • Feeling ‘different' and striving to fit in while fearing judgment.
  • Craving variety but becoming overwhelmed with too much change.
  • Enjoying social events but suddenly feeling overwhelmed or shy. Sometimes, you're not at ease in a group.
  • Thoughts drifting during conversations unless the topic is exceptionally interesting.
  • Struggling to maintain friendships or experiencing relationship difficulties.
  • Money management challenges, occasionally falling behind on bill payments.
  • Extensive research before making a purchase, potentially losing hours or days in the process.
  • Embarrassment when unexpected visitors arrive due to a messy and disorganized home.
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Reflections on being an adult ADD woman

You might wish you could be a better friend, partner, or mother. Occasionally, you regret making double appointments, being late, or forgetting birthdays. Throughout your life, people may have labeled you as unmotivated

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Treatment for adult ADD women

Addressing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) usually involves a comprehensive strategy that encompasses both medical and holistic options, catering to the needs of the individual. Traditional medical treatments often include prescription medications like stimulants or non-stimulants, aimed at regulating neurotransmitters to enhance focus. However, an increasing number of people are exploring natural and holistic alternatives. These can involve lifestyle adjustments, dietary changes, and therapeutic interventions, such as mindfulness practices and behavioral therapies. On this website, you'll find a variety of tips, strategies and experiences stories of women who made different choices.

Striking a balance between medical and holistic approaches allows individuals to personalize their treatment plans based on personal preferences, offering a diverse range of strategies for effectively managing ADD symptoms. Collaborating with healthcare professionals can guide individuals in finding the most suitable and sustainable approach for their unique circumstances.

Are you an adult woman with ADD? What are your coping strategies, what did you learn about yourself and where are you in your process? We love it if you share your experiences in the comments, so we can learn from each other.

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