Do Women With ADHD Have Extra Challenges?

ADHD WomenAfter years of making fun of men’s foibles on The Red Green Show, and then making a documentary  about a man, Patrick McKenna, being diagnosed with ADHD, it’s time to talk about women who have ADHD.

Both my better half, Ava, and Patrick’s amazing wife Janis, have learned to live with our ADHD.  Not that the learning ever stops.  But living with someone is not the same has having the disorder.  And I’m certain that being a guy with ADHD is not the same as it is for a woman with ADHD.

I can tell you how much of a struggle it was before I was diagnosed, and how much less stressful life was once I had a proper explanation. It’s here in the scores of blogs and videos I’ve made.

But I’m going to go out on a limb, one that’s pretty solid, and suggest that life with ADHD has extra challenges for women.

ADHD Depression

You’re suffering from Depression

In answering questions after a talk about ADHD, it’s clear that almost everyone but me has had real challenges getting a proper diagnosis.

Men often excuse their restlessness and impulsivity with, “Hey, I’m a guy.”

That’s what inspired the Men’s Prayer on The Red Green Show, “I’m a man.  But I can change.  If I have to. I guess.”

What I’ve heard over and over again from women is that the lingering belief that ADHD is about little boys who can’t sit still, the general dismissal of ADHD as a ‘real disorder,’ and the failure of doctors to ask, “How long have you been like this?” means they are almost immediately diagnosed with Depression or Anxiety.

And as Dr. Ari Tuckman points out in our video on Emotional Sensitivity, a life time of undiagnosed ADHD how could you not be depressed and anxious.

female adhd

It’s That Time Again! The Monthly Fog

I’ve have the privilege of interviewing a lot of women experts—ADHD specialists, psychologists, authors, coaches—and they have talked about the extra challenges of their monthly cycle and menopause.  While the impact of both of these varies widely among the women I know, they can increase some symptoms.

Linda Roggli, author of Confessions of an ADDiva, told me that menopause was like a double-dose of ADHD.

Zoë Kessler, who openly shares her journey in ADHD According to Zoë lays out statistics that show the Impulsivity dramatically increases the risk unplanned pregnancies. Including her own.  A great book with solid science and helpful strategies woven into her funny and moving stories.

Another delightful read is Here’s to Not Catching Our Hair on Fire by Stacey Turis. As the title suggests, Stacey’s had a colorful life, especially before she was diagnosed. Stacey manages to find humor in the darkest places. You’ll be laughing and cringing.

Other books for women who have ADHD and for couples dealing with this disorder?

Check out the classics:

One of the first to focus exclusively on women’s issues was Sari Solden’s compact but timeless book, Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life

You Mean I’m Not Crazy, Stupid or Lazy by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo, which was the first book to focus on ADHD in adults, and still remains a must-read.

Gina Pera offers tremendous insight and advice for our partners in the classic, Is It You, Me, or Adult ADHD?

More great advice for women and couples can be found in Melissa Orlov’s books, starting with The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

And Terry Matlen offers heartfelt advice in her recent contribution, The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done. Terry collaborated with the ADDiva, Linda, on a book about ADHD and women, titled, Women and ADHD.

Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, another popular expert in many of our videos has addressed a difficult subject in Understanding Girls with ADHD. There’s an updated and revised version out of this insightful and compassionate offering.

Women with ADHD

Why Has So Much Has Been Written for Women

There are more books that address women’s issues. Feel free to mention them below and I’ll add them in here.

All of these books will resonate with women who have ADHD, but also with their partners and families. And yes, much of their advice is helpful for us guys.

But I’d suggest the very fact that so many books have been written for women, providing information that simply isn’t in most books about ADHD, proves that women have much more to deal with, physically, mentally, and emotionally, as well as unique social expectations, that ADHD is a bigger challenge for women.

P.S.: Stay tuned, because our goal for 2019 is to produce a full-length program on women and ADHD. We’ve been compiling some great interviews and laying out the script.

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