Symptoms of ADHD in Women

Woman sits in filled bath looking into the distance | Symptoms of ADHD in Women ADHD Menopause and Me

I remember having Hen and Fred, two kids only 14 months apart. I was 31, unable to cope and feeling like I was completely out of control. With depleted hormones after childbirth, unknown to me this exacerbated my undiagnosed ADHD. Then, when Hen hit the age of 4 he started suffering from night terrors. 2 years in I had Sam, and sleep deprivation was at its peak. Another hormonal depletion meant my coping strategies were again put to the test. Fast forward 12 years and while most of my friends are starting to feel that ‘calmer’ era of parenting. I feel like I am right back in some of the hardest parenting years of my life. My ADHD symptoms, exacerbated by menopause are not helping!

If you’ve ever wondered that you might be ADHD, then you are not alone! A 2021 study found that in the UK, 60% of users accessing ADHD online tests were women. More women are recognizing symptoms in themselves that were previously overlooked due to gender stereotypes. And a growing community of women (celebrities, influencers) are embracing their ADHD, helping others to learn.

Historically, ADHD symptoms tended to be skewed towards males and children. Physical hyperactivity, unable to focus, impulsivity, ‘naughty boy syndrome‘. However, it is now understood that adults, especially adult women tend to present with the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating: This can manifest as zoning out, losing track of conversations, or getting easily distracted by internal or external stimuli.
  • Disorganisation: Clutter, difficulty planning and prioritising tasks, and frequent misplacing things are common experiences.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetting appointments, deadlines, or everyday tasks can be a significant issue.
  • Procrastination: Putting things off until the last minute due to difficulty initiating or completing tasks.
  • Emotional dysregulation: Difficulty managing emotions, leading to frustration, irritability, and mood swings.
  • Time management issues: Difficulty estimating time accurately and meeting deadlines.
  • Restlessness: This may not be overt hyperactivity but can manifest as fidgeting, leg shaking, or difficulty sitting still for extended periods.
  • Impulsivity: Acting without thinking, making rash decisions, or interrupting conversations.

Fluctuations in hormones can worsen focus, attention, and emotional regulation. It is now understood that the following times in a woman’s life will likely exacerbate ADHD symptoms:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Post-birth
  • Menopause

I know when I read this, everything started to make sense. I could absolutely pinpoint the stages in my life where things were the toughest, along with the precise periods above.

Life right now is really hectic, it’s tough, I’m having to balance working full time, with caring for 3 ND boys, one of whose needs mean he is not in school right now so needs stimulation and guidance. I’m lucky in that Sam is not a kid who’d just sit on his butt all day, but his constant need for stimulation means I spend a lot of time with eyes in the back of my head. My AuDHD means I crave order and routine, and his impulsivity wreaks havoc with my tendency to feel overwhelmed. We have a meeting with school tomorrow to see how we can support him whilst we await his transition days at his new school. Wish us luck!

In the meantime, does any of the above resonate with you?

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