For reasons we’re still discovering, adult ADHD in females has been, up to this point, largely overlooked. In fact, compared to the attention males receive in both childhood and adulthood for the disorder, our understanding of female ADHD is lagging far behind, stuck somewhere in the stone age.

As our understanding of ADHD evolves and grows, a blind spot in treatment and diagnosis has emerged. Once thought to be a condition escaping the majority of females in the U.S., new data shows more adult women than ever being diagnosed with ADHD.

With a handful of companies getting into the business of offering an ADHD diagnosis online, it’s perhaps easier than ever to be treated for this common cognitive disorder. Just in time, too, because women have arrived.

Undiagnosed Female ADHD

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), males are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females. This gap in diagnosis is not because males are more prone to the disorder. Instead, it is because females are being continually underdiagnosed.

But why is that the case?

Two myths currently prevail in ADHD rhetoric: ADHD is predominantly a male disorder, and ADHD is mostly a childhood disorder. Our understanding of ADHD has evolved drastically since it first garnered national attention, but myths still cloud society’s understanding of the disorder, especially in the way that it is diagnosed and treated in females.

One of the reasons why ADHD gets misdiagnosed in females lies in the differences in the symptoms between men and women. Men are more prone to hyperactivity while women skew more towards inattentiveness, making it difficult for female sufferers to focus, pay attention for prolonged periods of time, or remember simple items.

Women in this category are often called spacey and forgetful, eschewing the reality that they may actually be living with ADHD. Up until recently, women complaining or reporting symptoms of ADHD were dismissed or diverted to another diagnosis like depression or anxiety.

Female ADHD Symptoms

Females are more prone to symptoms surrounding inattentiveness, while males diagnosed with ADHD lean more towards the hyperactive end of the spectrum. Women with ADHD are more likely to experience the following:

  • Difficulty focusing on tasks in front of them
  • Poor Memory
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty organizing
  • Failure to finish tasks and projects
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Lack of attention to detail

Issues prevalent in females experiencing ADHD mirror those found in the general population. Eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression, obesity, and anxiety are some of the symptoms commonly found in women with ADHD. Men with ADHD similarly have echoed symptoms found in the general population–anger, behavioral issues, substance abuse, and car accidents.

Overcoming Female ADHD

If you recently received an ADHD diagnosis or believe you may have undiagnosed female ADHD, pay attention to these simple ADHD-breaking habits you can build into your life. See which ones help soothe your ADHD symptoms, and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when approaching possible coping mechanisms for your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Rid Yourself of Perfectionism

Perfectionism has derailed many life goals. To put it simply: nothing is perfect, nothing will ever be perfect, and the ostentatious act of chasing perfection is simply an exercise in futility. Women with ADHD may often struggle with fine-tuning a project strategy while avoiding the start of said project. In this case, the woman avoiding the project’s meatier tasks is simply engaging in a form of procrastination that overcomes many people living with ADHD.

Instead of pressuring yourself to meet the invisible standards you’ve set for yourself, try breaking down your project into smaller chunks of tasks that can be completed in 30-minute increments. This way, you’ll get motivation from seeing the project complete little by little, further fueling your desire to finish it.

Exercise Your Way to Mental Stability

The fountain of youth actually exists, but you have to put on your running shoes to get to it.

Exercise is the number one doctor recommendation for combating a number of conditions and illnesses. From diabetes to heart disease, exercise has the power to rid us of unwanted fat and mental anguish at the same time. How does this work?

When we exercise, the body releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that help stabilize our moods, provide feelings of euphoria, and chase away conditions like depression and anxiety. Not to mention the boost of muscle-building proteins and nutrients that get pumped through our systems as our hearts flood every inch of our bodies with life-affirming blood and oxygen.

There are few things you can do for yourself that have more profound effects on your overall mental health and ADHD than exercising.

Manage Your Time Like a Boss

Time management issues are common among women with ADHD. You’re likely either avoiding tasks because the pressure you’ve put on yourself to perform well is overwhelming, or you are hyper-focusing on a task so long that you forget you have other things that need your focus. In each case, you are not practicing time management well and need to adjust.

A good starting point is taking inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Are you diligent about certain tasks but lackadaisical about others? Do you like to tackle big projects first thing in the morning, or do you work better while burning the midnight oil? Write down what you are good at and what you are terrible at, and mold your schedule into a smooth workflow that takes advantage of your strengths and hides your weaknesses.

Also, be sure to give yourself a buffer of 10 to 20 minutes for each of your scheduled activities. Nothing can ruin a schedule like over or underbooking yourself, so always give ample time for completing tasks.

Women with ADHD should, last but not least, be kind to themselves. Practicing self-forgiveness is paramount to maintaining optimal mental health. ADHD can be frustrating for anyone, so be patient and proactive.