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Common Signs of ADHD in Girls & Young Women

by | Aug 25, 2023 | ADHD Strengths & Challenges | 0 comments

Do you know the most common signs of ADHD in Girls and Young Women?

I’ll give you a clue – no, they aren’t the same as boys!

You’re here for a reason, you’re here because you have an inclining that you might have ADHD and you’re doing a little click around internet land looking for answers.  So let’s dive in…

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that equally impacts both males and females.  The WHO states the prevalence of ADHD is about 5% or 1 in 20 of the population.  But ADHD is most commonly associated with hyperactive boys who misbehave in school.

This is not always the case.  ADHD in females can present very differently to our male counterparts.  Whilst some females with ADHD will be physically hyperactive and won’t sit still in school, the vast majority of females with ADHD will not present this way.  Unravelling the complexities of ADHD can shed light on the challenges faced by many young females.  In this post, we delve into the common signs of ADHD that manifest within young women, emphasising the importance of recognising and seeking support for these often misunderstood symptoms.

1. Inattentiveness

Inattentiveness is a hallmark of ADHD.  Females with ADHD may find it challenging to pay attention to details or sustain focus on tasks.  They might make careless mistakes and struggle with organising tasks and activities.  Losing things frequently leads to frustration and confusion.

2. Easily distracted

Females with ADHD have an interest based focus system rather than a demand based focus system.  With this in mind it’s easy for females with ADHD to be easily distracted and these individuals will often struggle to filter out external stimuli (things that interest us).  Unrelated thoughts or stimuli can side track focus, making it difficult to follow instructions or engage in conversations.  This can hinder good communication and can result in tasks not being completed. An example of this for me is changing the bedding on my bed.  I find this task very boring and I get easily distracted by the TV and my phone.  This task that should take no longer than 20 minutes can take me up to 2 hours to complete.

3. Time management

People with ADHD struggle with time blindness and their sense of time awareness can be different to a neurotypical person.  This sense of time blindness means females with ADHD can struggle to estimate how long tasks will take and they might find themselves frequently late or missing deadlines.  This can become a persistent problem for females with ADHD.

4. Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is a common struggle among individuals with ADHD.  Forgetting appointments, responsibilities or important dates can lead to a sense of chaos.  Most people will advocate neurotypical ways of dealing with these things such as diaries, etc.  These don’t always help those with ADHD to remember appointments

5. Disorganisation

Physical and mental disorganisation is common sign of ADHD in girls.  It is common for females with ADHD to have messy bedrooms, messy desks, workspaces, etc.  This often reflects an internal struggle to organise thoughts and ideas, but really comes down more to the fact that there isn’t enough interest in tidying up to maintain our focus.  But then hyperfocus can kick in and you clear the whole lot up in a few hours for it only to be a mess again 24 hours later

6. Procrastination

Procrastination often accompanies ADHD leading to avoidance or delay of tasks.  This is because one big component with ADHD is executive function difficulties and this means it can be difficult to get started on tasks.  ADHD brains have less dopamine than neurotypical brains and dopamine is needed to get the task started.   So, even tasks of great importance can be challenging to initiate, even though the person wants to do them.  This leads to feelings of frustration and annoyance.

7. Daydreaming

Daydreaming is a frequent occurrence, causing individuals to appear lost in thought.  I’m an expert in the art of daydreaming and have been my whole life.  It means I miss what’s being said in conversations and I have to guess what’s been said to join in, I miss what teachers would say at school, I daydream in the middle of meetings for work, etc.  Daydreaming comes from the inattentive part of ADHD and is very common for females who have ADHD.

8. Impulsivity

Impulsivity is another sign of ADHD in Girls.   This means acting before thinking through the consequences, interrupting others and difficulty waiting for your turn.  I’m a great interrupter, people who know me well know I will interrupt.  I try very hard to not interrupt, but if I don’t say something then, I will forget what I was about to say.  Females with ADHD may engage in risky behaviours without fully comprehending the consequences and this can further complicate life.  This can include alcohol and drug use, unhealthy relationships and early first time sex.  But this won’t be everyone who has ADHD.

9. Mood Swings

Sudden and intense mood shifts are experienced by many with ADHD.  Emotional regulation becomes a challenge, leading to feelings of being overwhelmed.  The emotional rollercoaster can add difficulty to daily life.  Mood swings are common amongst teenagers, but these will have always been present in females with ADHD.  This is known as emotional dysregulation.

10. Low self-esteem

Challenges in life, both in school and home can contribute to low self-esteem (what you think and believe about yourself).  A child with ADHD receives on average about 10 criticisms an hour at school for traits that are linked to their ADHD.  Add to this seeing that you struggle with tasks that your friends find really easy, you start to believe you are broken, you are the problem.  In reality you are not broke or a problem, your brain just works differently.  This means you can do some things easily that you neurotypical friends find difficult and they can do some things easily that you find difficult to do.

11. Social Challenges.

Maintaining relationships can be difficult for females with ADHD.  Drifting off and zoning out in the middle of conversations, the impulsivity that comes with ADHD means neurotypical people can find it hard to be friends with a female with ADHD.  Add to that difficulty in object permanence (out of sight out of mind) it means when you don’t see your friends you forget about them and so you forget to contact and message.

BUT, remember, we’re not all the same!

It’s crucial to recognize that not everyone with ADHD will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity may vary.  Moreover, these symptoms can overlap with other conditions, making accurate diagnosis vital.  Seeking professional help is essential for an accurate assessment and personalised treatment plan.  ADHD, often misunderstood, is a complex puzzle that requires compassionate understanding and appropriate support.

Understanding and recognising the common signs of ADHD in girls and young adult females can lead to early recognition and intervention.  By addressing the challenges associated with ADHD, individuals can receive the necessary tools and support to navigate their unique journeys and create the life they want and choose.  They can truly see how their lives can be unstoppable in every way.

If you’re reading this and nodding along thinking – OMG! That’s me!! – then pop on over to our free ADHD community and find your tribe. All welcome from ages 13-25

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We’d love to hear what you have to say. All our articles are based on the day to day experiences of our unstoppable young women … so the more voices, the better!

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