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ADHD in Adult Women, ADHD in Girls - Experiences

Abstract: Experiences of women with ADHD and special symptomatology of ADHD in girls and women

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ADHD in Adult Women, ADHD in Girls - Experiences

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Question(s): 
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 08 Jan 2009.

How does ADHD show in adult women? My son Mike was diagnosed with ADHD. It reminded me of the fact that also when I was at the age of 10, a psychological investigation was arranged because of my hyperactivity and concentration disturbances and a minimum cerebral brain function disturbance was diagnosed. I had sensory integration therapy and over many years I got along quite well. When looking back, however I can see that particularly in phases of hormonal changes (puberty, birth of my two children and also as a function of my period) my mood and efficiency changes a lot. Doctors have associated it with PMS but I have now talked about ADHD with my family doctor and he put me on a medication with stimulants. It does not seem to work however, my attention and disorganization remains nearly the same, although we continue increasing the dose. What can I do?

Answer:

Until a few years ago it was believed that ADHD was a rare thing among girls and/or women and would occur perhaps only in the relation 1:9 (1 girl to 9 boys). This looks however completely different when talking to mothers in self-help groups or adults in other associations. Here it seems as if many more women than what is known are suffering from ADHD and more women than men are looking for psychotherapeutic assistance.

Most women with ADHD experience that the ADHD symptomatology changes as a function of the hormones. This is also a reason why some of the serious ADHD symptoms only are noticeable in puberty, then however visible more as puberty crisis or by developing secondary disorders (e.g. eating disorders, drug problems, depressions). Due to formal reasons it is not really possible to make an ADHD diagnoses at this point because the symptoms are supposed to have an onset before the age of 7. Here the symptoms can differ clearly between boys and girls since boys get noticed by there impulsive and disturbing behavior due to the hyperactivity.

A typical experience of girls with ADHD is that they get along quite well in primary school because of the strict structure and clear instructions. When in secondary and high school many girls compensate the deficits in concentration by excessive efforts and an extreme repeating of the material. It is hard for them to follow instructions and they can look as if they are absent or daydreaming. They do, however, understand the content of the instructions without any problems and are able to do homework by themselves.

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