Women With Undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder
Reasons Women Reach Adulthood With Undiagnosed ADD
Until recently, ADD or ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) was thought to be a boy's disease. The stereotype of someone with ADD was a grade-school aged boy, flying around the classroom, knocking things over. Girls tend to have attention deficit without hyperactivity. Even those with hyperactivity have their symptoms overlooked or misattributed. And many women came of age before it was recognized that ADD could continue into adulthood.
Girls with ADD without hyperactivity may be able to compensate during childhood. Structure imposed by school and parents can help her organize when she cannot do so by herself. Girls may be more taken care of and their lack of accomplishments not as much a concern to the adults around her.
Problems may begin at turning points in her life, where responsibilities increase. This can be as early as junior high. Graduating college, first job, marriage, or having children are others. This is partially due to increases in responsibility that both genders face. But women in our societies are expected to organize for the men and kids around them. A man with ADD often replaces his parents and teachers with secretaries and wives. Women are still expected to be those organizing secretaries and wives. Even on a professional or managerial level, women are often assigned and openly praised for doing the "grunt work" of organizing and paying attention to the details.
Even so, some women's ADD problems do not emerge at adulthood. They have had problems all their lives. They weren't diagnosed as girls. And, they simply don't notice anything as being wrong, because things have always been so chaotic.
How Women With Undiagnosed ADD Feel
1. They feel depressed. Their ADD causes chaos in many aspects of their lives. They loose heart with failure after failure.
2. Some feel like they are capable of so much more. Even though their disorganization causes many failures, they still maintain a sense of what could be. They are often creative and intelligent. But, they are unable to harness those qualities and focus them on goals, and they are frustrated.
3. Others feel incompetent. They internalize their chronic disorganization and resulting failures.
4. Still others feel like fakes. Some are able to compensate and have good professional lives. But they break down at home. They are unable to take care of basic things like errands and bills. Still others have to spend inordinate amounts of extra time and effort and end up feeling like they don't meaure up to co-workers.
5. They feel immature. They are not able to reach the normal goals of adulthood due to their disorganization.
6. They feel overwhelmed.
How Women With Undiagnosed ADD Think
1. Women with undiagnosed ADD may feel assaulted by everyday enviroment. Noises, sights, even her own thoughts can make her loose focus.
2. They are easily distracted and move from one unfinished activity to another.
3. They have trouble planning, organizing, and prioritizing. They often miss deadlines or have trouble gaging their time.
4. While they generate a flurry of ideas internally, they process information from the outside more slowly.
4. They spend a lot of time thinking about and trying new systems to get organized.
How Women With Undiagnosed ADD Act
1.As mentioned, college may be a breaking point for women with undiagnosed ADD. She may drop out of college, or change schools and majors several times.
2. She may abuse drugs or alcohol. This due to their impulsivity and also as a way of coping with the problems of ADD.
3. In general, they may not act much at all. Women with Attention Deficit Disorder have trouble initiating activities. They may waste hours and hours simply because they can't focus enough to get started on any one thing. Or they feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start-- so they don't.
4. They may cut back on fun, friends, and sleep. Some women compensate in their professional lives, by spending more time on tasks.
5. Piles. They have piles everywhere. Unpaid bills, unorganized papers, laundry, objects. At work, at home, in the car.
6. They may express impulsivity by compulsive shopping or eating.
7. The "High Maintainence" look is not for her. She has too much trouble keeping track of jewelry, make-up, and all the parts of the outfit. Organizing hair, nail, facial appointments--too much!
Women With Undiagnosed ADD -- How They Are Seen By Others
1. They are often diagnosed as depressed, narcissitic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. They can be genuinely depressed from dealing with undiagnosed ADD. Or the indecison, lack of activity and concentration of ADD is confused with depression. They are misdiagnosed as narcisstic because being totally focused is a way to survive, not a lack of regard for others. They are misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality disorder because it too is characterized by a chaotic life.
3. People are often angry with them because they forget things. They miss or are late for appointments with others. They forget birthdays. They don't write thank yous.
4. And those are their friends. Less charitable people call them lazy, stupid, slackers, or space cadets.
5. They form relationships with people who will organize and take care of them. Sometimes this is good, but other times they stay in abusive or dominating relationships because they feel unable to function on their own.
6. They avoid people. They are embarrassed because their homes are such a mess and they want no visitors. Or they don't have time for friends because of all the extra time they spend keeping their basic lives together. Or they have trouble with small talk or they can't stop talking.
Is She ADD Or Just The Average Woman With Too Much To Do?
Feeling overwhelmed, too many responsibilities, distracted, stressed, no time for sleep or friends? The symptoms and signs of ADD are very common in women without it too. ADD in general, in adults and in females are all subject that have gained more attention in recent years, leading many more people to wonder "is this me?" A website can make a woman aware that there is a possibility of a treatable condition underlying all this. But only a woman's doctor can say more definitively. Starting with her family doctor is a good option. A family doctor can make the initial assessment and referral to psychologists or others. Community mental health organizations can be found in the yellow pages and are another good starting point. For a more in depth picture or adult female ADD before consulting a health professional, get the book in the references to this article.