I am an undiagnosed female with ADHD. While it's always presented a struggle for me academically, I've learned to manage it as an adult. My ADHD became apparent when I was in first grade. My teacher gave my mother a stack as thick as an encyclopedia of in-class assignments I hadn't finished. I’d always had a difficult time concentrating. While part of this was due to the obnoxious boy who sat at the desk next to me, I often found myself lost in thought—daydreaming instead of focusing on my assignments. It wasn't that I wasn't grasping the material. I always scored decent grades on tests and picked up information fast. In fact, I would go home and teach my little brother everything I was learning in school. I wasn't overly hyperactive, or super chatty either as many of the stereotypical symptoms would suggest. I was actually a bit shy and quiet. My symptoms were never noticed because ADHD can present differently in females than in males, and the criteria designed to diagnose ADHD is largely based upon diagnosing males. In fact, if you look at the statistics, 13% of males, and 4% of females are diagnosed with ADHD. This is rather shocking, considering there are more females that make up our population than males.
I am not the only female living with ADHD who is undiagnosed. Many females go undiagnosed because they tend to be less disruptive in the classroom setting than males. Males with ADHD tend to present with hyperactivity and impulsivity, while girls present as “spacey” or “dreamy.” Oftentimes, this leads girls to become misdiagnosed with anxiety or depression. This gap in the system has led many girls to suffer in silence while developing low self-esteem and self-doubt. Studies have also shown that women who have ADHD are also more likely to experience depression as a comorbid symptom than males with ADHD.
If you're concerned that you or another woman in your life may be suffering from ADHD, there are some signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for. These include:
- A decline in academic achievement, either suddenly or over time
- Becoming frustrated easily while learning new concepts
- Forgetting or losing possessions, or losing/leaving things around the home
- Failing to remember to turn in assignments
- Abnormal anxiety over changing one's routine or trying new things
- Becoming easily upset over minor events
- Difficulty making new friends
It's important to note that these symptoms alone do not constitute an ADHD diagnosis. There are several other conditions that could be the cause. Such conditions include depression, anxiety, an adjustment disorder, a child's developmental nature or temperament, or a learning disability.
What to do if you suspect your daughter has ADHD
If you suspect that your daughter or a female in your life has ADHD, it's important to be as understanding as possible. Do not place blame or shame on the child, as this will only increase her feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Rather, it's important to encourage her, and to work with her and for her by getting the teachers involved and on board with what is going on. Since these symptoms present so differently in females, it may be difficult for the school to recognize the issue as well, and you may need to advocate for your daughter in order to get her the support she needs. Ensure she gets the appropriate evaluations, and be persistent and insistent about it.
When advocating to get your child the support she needs, it's important not to be led by the fear that she will immediately be medicated with amphetamines (Adderall) and methylphenidates (Ritalin and Concerta). In many cases, psychological interventions, special education services, and classroom modifications are able to help alleviate these symptoms. Females tend to be fast learners and oftentimes respond favorably to interventions that help to improve memory, concentration, attention, and self-esteem while decreasing anxiety. It also helps to teach problem-solving skills as a means of reducing anxiety and frustrations faced while learning new things.
Another proactive method for helping a female with ADHD is to introduce a micronutrient supplement into her diet. Micronutrients have been found to be effective treatment methods for ADHD in children and adults. A high-quality supplement will include all of the essential micronutrients our minds and bodies need to operate at an optimal level. They will also be designed for superior absorption with ingredients sourced from the highest quality ingredients. I've experienced wonderful results from taking the micronutrient supplement developed by Focus Essentials. I've never felt such a peaceful, relaxing, and calm sense of concentration since taking this supplement. I am able to focus on my work and conduct all of my duties with ease. I have found that since taking this supplement, I've become far more productive than I was before.
If you are female suffering from ADHD, or you know someone who may be, it's important to seek help and intervention as soon as possible. There are a variety of treatment methods that really work, and you don't have to suffer in silence alone anymore.