How Does ADHD Impact Females, Especially Young Females?
Peer relationships have a huge impact on the identity and self worth for young females, but ADHD symptoms often greatly disrupt relationships. Difficulties recognizing common social cues and keeping up with rapid verbal interplay can position ADHD females as different, not “like us,” not “one of us.” Impulsive ADHD comments can appear insensitive, immature, or hostile. These interactive difficulties can cause very painful peer rejection, which can lead to anxiety, withdrawal, and isolation.
To conform and be accepted many girls hide their true nature and authentic feelings, often investing considerable energy in being hypervigilant. Others hide their differentness aggressively by becoming leaders, rebels - or bossy and dominating.
Female role expectations generally are to be passive, compliant, cooperative, and tidy, so ADHD females often portray such an identity to comply, denying their true nature. But presenting this false persona can exacerbate problems with identity, self-esteem, and shame.
Although there are probably just as many females as males with ADHD, females are much less likely to be recognized or diagnosed. Males tend toward hyperactivity and disruption, females toward inattentiveness, indecisiveness, withdrawal, and desperate attempts to conform, all of which draw much less attention. Also the diagnostic criteria are based primarily on male behaviors.
Because females with ADHD typically don’t have the more obvious hyperactivity of males they are less likely to be diagnosed or diagnosed early. Females with ADHD:
· are often misdiagnosed as depressed;
· may expend a lot of energy struggling with disorganization, low productivity and social difficulties;
· typically struggle with inadequacy feelings, avoidance and procrastination; and
· often feel ashamed of their inability to keep up with, and be accepted by their more organized, more socially skilled peers.
Thus, undiagnosed ADHD in females can cause: underachievement, low self-esteem, and opportunities lost, leading to problems with identity, depression, anxiety, pessimism – and despair. If any of this sounds like you, I encourage you to overcome any tendencies towards avoidance and procrastination, and promptly seek individual and/or group counseling so you can get on a path toward a happier, more popular, more productive life.