ADHD in Women and Girls Is Often Overlooked

ADHD in Women and Girls Is Often Overlooked

The largest undiagnosed group of people with ADHD is women and girls. Girls who are underachieving are often mislabeled as anxious, depressed or not smart because their symptoms are frequently harder to detect. This causes damage to their self-esteem and relationships, and overall missed opportunities in life.

In this mini Dr. H shares the good news that even women who get diagnosed later in life can mitigate the damage that has been done and reshape their lives.

Do you have a question for Dr. Hallowell about ADHD or a struggle you are facing? Write an email or record a voice memo with your thoughts and send it to [email protected]. We regularly release listener Q & A episodes!

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

And thank you to our other sponsor, Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. Click HERE to learn more about our the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabrite.wellness.com and by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about an often overlooked group, girls and women with ADHD. In fact, the single biggest undiagnosed group are adult women with ADHD followed closely by younger women, also called girls, who have ADHD. Why are they overlooked and why is it important not to overlook them?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
They’re overlooked because they’re not disruptive. In general, they do not have hyperactivity. They might have hyperactivity, just like boys might not have hyperactivity, but in general, it is the males who are the disruptive ones, who overturn desks and get into trouble, conduct problems in the like, and the girls and the women tend to be the quiet daydreamer. They don’t bother anybody. They’re lost in their thoughts. They’re staring out the window. They’re counting the specks of dust in the shaft of light that comes in through the window. They are perfectly happy in the classroom but if you ask them, “What’s it like to be in the classroom?” They’ll tell you, “Oh, it’s fine, I’m almost never there,” because their mind is wandering around the universe, catching butterflies and imagining all sorts of beautiful things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you want an example of a famous person who I’m pretty sure has this condition, Emily Dickinson, arguably America’s greatest poet of all time and the way she wrote, you can just see her ADD. She talks about mercury rolling on the floor and it’s the mind of ADD dispersing in different directions, like little balls of mercury if you’ve ever dropped mercury out of a thermometer.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Girls and women need this diagnosis because typically they’re underachieving and they may be doing very well, but they’re still underachieving and whatever underachievement is present, if they actually do go for help, they’re often labeled anxious or depressed or not very smart or ditsy, these pathological adjectives, demeaning adjectives that get applied to females more than males. And it’s just a shame because when I see these women and I reframe their entire life, I say, “In fact, you’re very smart, you’re very creative, you’ve got a lot going on. You’re anything but not smart, you’re anything but dull, you’re anything but these adjectives that have been applied to you,” they start to cry because they know I’m right and finally, they’re recognized. Finally, they’re seen for who they are.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, if it happens as it did in my own daughter’s case, in the second grade, that’s great because no damage has been done but if it happens at age 45 or 50, as many of my adult female patients are, a lot of damage has been done. Damage to self-esteem, damage to career plans and hopes, damage to relationships, damage to the world of opportunity. But it’s never too late. Never, never, never too late to get diagnosed and that damage can largely be mitigated and re-reshaped into a wonderful career or a wonderful relationship or a wonderful sense of self, the adventure of life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you can start writing poems, or you could start a business as many of my patients do. That’s why this diagnosis is such good news. So whenever you see someone under achieving, not living up to potential, regardless of what their actual achievement level is, as I say, you could be top of your class, or seemingly doing very well. Look a little bit more deeply and if they’re struggling to stay focused, if they’re struggling to stay on track, if they’re struggling to get their act together, so to speak, think of ADHD because the intervention, the treatment can make a world of difference, can absolutely and dramatically change a life tremendously for the better.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
As I say, the largest undiagnosed group are adult women and girls with ADHD because they’re not disruptive usually. They’re the daydreamer, the serene lost in their thoughts, Emily Dickinson kind of ADHD. She had the great line, “I heard a fly buzz when I died.” That’s so typical of ADD that she would put those two together, “Because I could not stop for death, death kindly stopped for me.” These lines that are eternal, thanks to Ms. Dickinson, are spun out of the ADD mind that we really owe it to women and girls to identify, diagnose, and provide the help that will allow them to develop their full potential.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well I want to, once again, thank you to our sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve been taking their Omega-3 supplement for years, and recently started their CBD supplement as well. OmegaBrite products, I trust them because I know the woman who’s in charge of the company, Harvard Medical School graduate. She’s very fussy about quality, efficacy, and is always looking to make sure that the product she has is the best in the business.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And distraction listeners can save 20% off their first order with the promo code PODCAST2020 at omegabritewellness.com. Well, those are my thoughts for this week. Please share your thoughts with us at [email protected] That’s the word [email protected] Your ideas for shows, your questions, your comments, anything you might want to say, we love to hear from you. Love, love, love to hear from you. And have you followed us on social media yet? You can find Distraction on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we’re really trying to beef that up and remember to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts so you never need to miss an episode. We hope you’ll do that and tell your friends about us please, we’re trying to grow every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Scott Persson, that’s with two ss’s, is our recording engineer and brilliant editor and our producer is the ever creative and always industrious Sarah Guerton. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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