ADHD and the Individual. Does ADHD Impact Women Differently?

When I spoke with TotallyADD about writing a piece for their month dedicated to ADHD and Women, I began making a list of how ADHD impacts men and women differently. I started by saying my usual message: women are more commonly anxious and internally restless, men can often be more explosive with their anger and more externally hyperactive, girls often get diagnosed later, women often go through bouts of depression…all of which are generally true.

And then I stopped categorizing and started to think of my clients. I began to hear their voices and had trouble creating clear groups based on sex…Many men suffer from the inattentive type of ADHD, have a great deal of internal anxiety, and have suffered from depression or mood disorders, often as a result of frustration over years of being unsure why they were not meeting their potential… and it is not at all uncommon for women to struggle with impulsive speech, anger management or feelings of hyperactivity. For every stereotypically female symptom, I could think of a male client with the same issue.

As I looked for points that would resound most profoundly with women, I found myself stuck in a serious state of writer’s block: each idea I came up with brought me further away from a my initial message. If this exercise has reminded me of anything, it is that ADHD is on a spectrum, and may not be about differentiating between the sexes at all. Each individual case of ADHD is just that – an individual.

In treating ADHD, we must realize the importance of encouraging girls and boys, men and women, to learn how their brain works, feel empowered to ask for help, and most importantly to start talking.

Laura MacNiven is a health educator and ADHD coach who passionately supports individuals in their journeys with ADHD.

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7 Replies to “ADHD and the Individual. Does ADHD Impact Women Differently?”

  1. What do you do when you have a husband that does not understand AT ALL?!? He has told me that it is a choice to be organized and have a tidy house! He says I am flaky….and I am! I try really hard not to be but I just don’t quite meet his expectations. It really crushes the self-esteem. Any ideas for a flaky wife?

  2. My husband didn’t understand it at all until he became a pharm rep for an ADHD drug. He then started seeing and understanding what I am struggling with an has since agreed to get our oldest child tested. It is amazing how much our relationship has improved! I would suggest you swap your typical chores. He does laundry now (hard to negotiate) while I mow the lawn and tackle other more labor-type chores. He has also worked harder on not taking it personally when I “flake” out. It works for us. Good luck 🙂

  3. my problem is just the opposite. My husband is ADHD. Were he does understand were I am comimg from. His symptoms often conflict with helping me with mine. Its like I have to wake both our brains up. Which can be stressful. We have switched chores and he is a big help around the house. Which does help. I am getting a little more organized it feels as if he is falling backwards. With knowledge of ADD I have gained understanding and acceptance but for him he feels hopeless. How to help him is a puzze I cant solve. Which starts those all to
    familure negative feelings. I feel like I cant have a good day cause it makes him feel worse cause he is having a bad day.

  4. i was diagnosed when I was in my 50’s but I knew very little, compared to what I know now.
    My then husband and I had many problems together that were centered around it. He also had a big problem with rage and anger that I tolerated for what ever reasons I had then. I think I figured I may had, unfortunately, deserved some of it…but I did not. My husband died 6 years ago, and I have certainly learned about myself and my ADD a lot more since then. I would say that only now am I beginning to really have an understanding of how much help I need with my daily life. I live alone, but have a coach who helps me about once or twice a month with housework plans, even if I dont get around to doing all of it. She taught me more about budgeting for myself, and keeping track of where my money goes, and doing banking on the computer is wonderful. I still struggle every day with motivation more than anything else. I cannot take my ADD meds anymore because of a cardiac problem, so have had to figure out how much I can do. I have two grown sons with ADD but they have great spouses who, I guess, tolerate and support them most of the time. I have a new relationship with a very well organized man, who is learning about my individual issues with ADD, quite a feat for him at 70, but he is doing ok, and helps me rather than belittles me. there is a lot I could have done differentlyl in my marriage, including not tolerating verbal abuse, and helping him to manage our money better, both things that caused the huge problems that eventually really destroyed our relationship. Too soon old and too late smart for some things. Live and learn for others.

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