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Meet Massy

You keep losing your phone, locking your keys in the car, you’re constantly late and feel emotionally overwhelmed. You feel you can never focus, you start a lot of projects which you never end up finishing, and you are constantly feeling burnt out. Maybe someone in your life has told you “you might have ADHD” or maybe you’ve been hearing more about the signs and symptoms on Instagram or TikTok and something resonates in you. Whatever the reason, educating yourself is the first step in getting treatment for the symptoms that may be wreaking havoc in your life.

Today we will be talking all about ADHD and women, why it goes unnoticed, common symptoms, if a diagnosis matters, and resources to help you gain control of your life.


What is adhd?

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association. ADHD is diagnosed in both children and adults based on the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. While it may be true that everyone experiences ADHD symptoms sometimes, there are different levels of severity and not everyone has ADHD.

People with ADHD often struggle with everyday tasks and are at a higher risk for negative life outcomes like divorce, job loss, accidents, and addiction. At the same time, many people with ADHD thrive because of the unique ways their brain works. ADHD can also be the source of creativity, curiosity, the ability to take risks, and an ability to think outside the box.



  • 50%-75% of women and girls with ADHD do not know they have it and go consistently underidentified and underdiagnosed.

  • Symptoms of inattentiveness are more common than are symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity in girls and women with ADHD.

  • Women with ADHD are more likely to experience low self-esteem and experience higher levels of anxiety and depression compared to men with ADHD and women without ADHD.

  • Anxiety and affective disorders commonly co-occur with ADHD in women, who are more likely to exhibit phobias and have generalized anxiety disorder compared to men with ADHD.

  • Men are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than women, and because women and non binary people with ADHD are often overlooked or misdiagnosed, it is common they are diagnosed later in life when life becomes unmanageable.


why ADHD in girls, women, and non binary people goes unnoticed

Girls have ADHD just as much as boys do, however, boys are diagnosed significantly more than girls are, this is typically due to how their ADHD manifests and the gender bias present in ADHD diagnosis. Boys are more likely than girls to show behavioral issues, while girls are more often inattentive or struggling with a co-occurring mood disorder.

Why do girls display such different symptoms? Experts like Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, Director of the Chesapeake ADHD Center, suggest this may be due in part to differences in socialization. The symptoms that girls experience are often attributed to gender stereotypes and can be overlooked.

Our culture encourages girls to be more socially conscious, and they are expected to do and behave well. This can explain why even though a girl would show symptoms of inattentive ADHD like disorganization, forgetfulness, and distraction, her symptoms might not be noticed because of her social and cultural awareness.

An example of this is a girl with undiagnosed ADHD who procrastinates writing a paper. She would most likely finish it at the last minute and turn it in. Compared to a boy with undiagnosed ADHD who also procrastinated writing the same paper but didn’t feel the extra social and cultural pressure to complete and turn the paper in on time. In this situation, it would be more likely that the boy’s hyperactive-impulsive presentation of ADHD is more impairing and therefore noticeable compared to the girl’s inattentive presentation of ADHD. This is an example of how girls can fall through the cracks.

Girls with ADHD face more serious risks compared to boys, and the condition can take a real toll on girls’ emotional health, self-esteem, and general well-being. The girl from the example above might get a good grade on the paper, but because she had to work three times as hard to get it, she continues to see herself as unworthy, incapable, and not as smart as they should be.

It is typical that women whose ADHD goes unnoticed as girls will be diagnosed with anxiety or depression later in their life. It is common that only after seeking treatment for anxiety and depression, will she be diagnosed with ADHD.

Society has a certain set of expectations we place on women and ADHD often makes them harder to accomplish… They are supposed to be the organizer, planner, and primary parent at home. Women are expected to remember birthdays and anniversaries and do laundry and keep track of events. That is all hard for someone with ADHD

— Dr. Kathleen Nadeau



ADHD diagnoses are separated into three presentations: Primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. It is important to note that there are different levels of severity.

iNATTENTIVE presentation

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes

  • Has difficulty sustaining attention

  • Does not appear to listen

  • Struggles to follow through with instructions

  • Has difficulty with organization

  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort

  • Loses things

  • Is easily distracted

  • Is forgetful in daily activities

hyperactive-impulsive presentation

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair

  • Has difficulty remaining seated

  • Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in adults

  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly

  • Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel inside as if they are driven by a motor

  • Talks excessively

  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed

  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns

  • Interrupts or intrudes upon others


  • The individual meets the criteria for both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD presentations

Other symptoms adhd women experience

  • Overworking, overcommitting, overdoing, overthinking, overplanning, & overperforming

  • Constant comparison

  • Caring for others while not stopping to take time to care for herself

  • Constant feeling of overwhelm and exhaustion

  • Low self-esteem

  • Depression and anxiety

  • “Freeze” response

  • Time management issues – how much time has gone by or how much time is needed

  • Being withdrawn

  • Inattentiveness or tendency to “daydream”

  • Feelings of inadequacy

  • Higher risk for suicidal ideation

  • Hyperfocus

  • Procrastination

  • Perfectionism

  • Sleep issues and constant fatigue

  • Substance abuse


How do I know if I should get tested?

Most people who seek an evaluation for ADHD experience significant problems in multiple aspects of their life, such as, at home, school, and work. If you are having a difficult time managing your everyday life, it might be time to consider getting tested. Before you do, we encourage you to do your own research first. Spend time learning about the signs and symptoms, reflect back on your developmental years, and speak with a trusted friend or mental health professional.



We are not for labeling people or putting them in a box, and we acknowledge the added pain that a misdiagnosis can cause, especially for women, non binary people, and BIPOC communities. We also acknowledge that receiving a diagnosis can be a great relief and informational to one’s treatment plan.

Getting a professional diagnosis is a privilege. Women and non binary people are affected by ADHD in a way that men (white men specifically) are not. Black and POC women and children are also at a much higher risk of going without a diagnosis, and as a result, there are now an overwhelming amount of women and non binary people who are only now discovering they may have ADHD.

Receiving testing and a diagnosis can be inaccessible and mentally exhausting, and we acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege of receiving the support they deserve.

A diagnosis requires at least six symptoms that are beyond what is age-appropriate. Symptoms must persist for more than six months and must have been present since before the age of twelve and can’t be better explained by another condition.


Why should I get a diagnosis and treatment? and how will it serve me?

The goal of diagnosis and treatment is to help people be more effective in their daily life and reduce the extent to which their untreated ADHD interferes with functioning and their overall wellbeing.

Receiving an accurate diagnosis and treatment can help get to the root of the problem, especially if you have been misdiagnosed. It can also help empower you to advocate for yourself and your needs such as getting proper accommodations for work and school.


what happens if adhd goes untreated?

Untreated ADHD is associated with many difficulties including substance abuse, higher divorce rates, a higher chance of unemployment, difficulties with work and school, and more. Women who go untreated experience higher levels of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and higher levels of suicidal ideation. People who go undiagnosed often feel restless, frustrated, and unable to understand what is happening to them. Women who go undiagnosed sometimes find themselves constantly in comparison with other women because of the social and cultural pressure that is put on women and women appearing people to be put together, organized, focused, and attentive.

While receiving a diagnosis is a way to gain access to the full range of treatment options, most importantly, it helps empower people to understand, accept, and even appreciate the unique ways their brain functions.


Resources: tips and tools

coping with adhd

  1. Accept your ADHD

  2. Learn about it (see our favorite books and resources below)

  3. Take time with making decisions

  4. Learn about and practice boundaries

  5. Develop strong self-care habits

  6. Use tools and coping strategies to manage daily life (we’ll come back to this in part 2)

  7. Find a community or support group

  8. Prioritize things you truly enjoy

  9. Get professional help (multimodal treatment: medication to manage symptoms and behavioral therapy to help develop skills and strategies necessary to minimize impairment)




more resources



  • You don’t have to share the same strengths as others to be good at what you do.

  • You are allowed to redefine: What busy looks like, what productivity looks like, what thriving looks like, and what success looks like.



Healthline.com ; Chadd.org; Additudemag.com; How to ADHD on YouTube; ADHDonline.org

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