There is a lost generation of women who have been diagnosed in their teens with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, mood disorders among many other conditions. Years of medications, therapy, and low self-esteem has left women feeling hopeless and lost.
According to Dr Ellen Littman, Clinical Psychologist and author of Understanding Girls with ADHD (I highly recommend this book) research shows that when girls are not properly diagnosed with ADHD (or MISSED Diagnosed) the outcome for girls is devastating.
The risk for self-harm and suicide is for 4x higher for girls with ADHD than girls without.
ADHD is a chronic neurological biological disorder that affects the brain’s structural and chemical capabilities and the way your brain communicates. It is also genetic, meaning it’s passed down from previous generations. The number of parents who self-diagnose during the process of getting their kids diagnosed grows every year.
4 Key Differences between boys with ADHD vs girls with ADHD
1️⃣ When boys have ADHD they have symptoms that appear on the surface like; jittery leg, outbursts, unable to sit still. They are very physical with their inability to concentrate.
Girls’ symptoms are internal. Girls are restless, daydream, forgetful, disorganized, hard on themselves, make careless mistakes. Girls see these differences in themselves and convince themselves they are bad people, or stupid. They see it as a character flaw.
2️⃣ Boys present earlier around 7 years old. Girls present later around 12 years old, diagnosed at a much slower rate than boys. Sometimes, girls are never diagnosed or they discover their ADHD much later in life.
3️⃣ Boys’ symptoms are physical. You could say they wear them on their sleeves.
Girls hide their symptoms because they feel the pressure to conform. They look around to see what everyone else is doing and start working harder to compensate for what they see as a shortcoming or character flaw.
Girls are constantly feeling that they are not enough, that everyone gets it except them. They feel different than every other girl and don’t understand why.
4️⃣ Boys tend to get better. They get the intervention for their ADHD.
Girls get worse. Girls are treated for conditions like depression and anxiety that are caused by their ADHD. Essentially, they are being treated for the surface symptoms but not the underlying condition. This is both dangerous and devastating to our girls for life.
There is nothing wrong with them. They have a brain that is wired differently. And knowing that, and how to work with it, can literally save a girl’s life.
You’ve heard that ADHD can be a superpower. But only if you know how your ADHD works (everyone’s ADHD is different) and how to work with it and not against it. ADHD has a high correlation to being a successful entrepreneur, highly creative, a problem solver, a risk-taker.
What is ADHD?
People think that ADHD means that you can’t focus on something. Not true.
According to Dr. Ned Hallowell, ADHD is the inability to direct and hold your attention in appropriate ways in different settings and situations.
Attention is a really important skill. You need it if you want to be successful at work, school, and in relationships.
Attention requires your prefrontal cortex to be able to switch between two neural networks in your brain.
➡️ One of the neural networks is the part of your brain that is aware and paying attention to everything around you and all of the thoughts and feelings in your body – you need the ability to quiet all the noise around you and all the noise inside of you.
➡️ The second neural network is the one that raises your attention and focuses on something specific. It allows you to turn toward what you want to focus on like reading a book while the first neural network is drowning out all external and internal distractions thus directing your attention appropriately.
Both of these things take a lot of mental fuel and it’s exhausting when you have ADHD and don’t have enough of the neurotransmitters like dopamine to do this. It’s exhausting.
No matter your gender, there are some important signs to look for if you suspect you or someone you care about has ADHD. You can also take this quick assessment to see if you’re on the right track with suspecting ADHD.
6 Surprising Signs of Adult ADHD
1️⃣ Hyper-focus. The ability to hyper-focus in certain settings and not be able to pay attention at all in other settings. Tunnel vision. Afterwards you’re completely exhausted.
2️⃣ Difficulty controlling your emotions. You’re using up so much mental energy trying to pay attention that there’s no energy left to tolerate the emotions of being frustrated or tired.
3️⃣ Impulsive shopping and overspending, or any impulsive behavior. This gives you a dopamine hit. You don’t even realize that’s what you’re doing. You simply know you feel better after.
4️⃣ Time blindness. Leads to chronic lateness or inability to estimate how long tasks take to complete. You struggle to met deadlines and keep appointments.
5️⃣ Constant busyness. You appear to be high functioning, You look like a work-aholic, very successful or if you’re not working you’re incredibly busy. Your busyness is scattered all over the place and that desire to keep your mind busy is also due to the fact that you have problems in your prefrontal cortex suppressing the noise that is going on outside and inside of you.
6️⃣ Highly self-critical. You constantly beat yourself up for not being able to do simple things, worried that you’re disappointing everybody, wondering why it’s so easy for everyone else but you – this is the default mode of your own inner dialogue.
When you know what it is, you can empower yourself to live with it and take proactive steps to embrace it and to move forward in a positive way.
There’s so much you can do to support yourself including; exploring medications, therapy, coaching, exercise, meditation, nutrition.
If you are questioning what your next step is, please book a time for us to chat and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction.