Is Your Daughter “Just Daydreaming”? The Shocking Truth About ADHD in Girls & Women

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One of the most interesting things about social media and media, in general, is that you put information out into the ethos, and you never quite know what is going to make a difference.

Recently I had the privilege of doing a TV interview and in that interview, I talked about the typical interpretation of ADHD and how that is not how girls and women present with ADHD. It’s something I have known for years. I talk about it with my clients all the time. It was one of many factoids I tossed out that day. To my surprise that little nugget has had a profound impact on a variety of people’s lives. A really good friend of mine called me to ask for a recommendation for getting his daughter tested, she is nine years old. He said after seeing my interview he did a little more research and realized that she might really be fighting with this with her schooling. Another one of my friends realized she more than likely has been dealing with ADHD her whole life, her brother has the male typical signs and was diagnosed, but she didn’t have those signs, so she never knew.

Inspired by the calls, emails, and texts I’ve received since that taping, let’s talk about ADHD in girls and women.

Understanding ADHD in Girls and Women

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often portrayed as a condition affecting primarily young boys, characterized by excessive energy, impulsivity, and difficulty focusing. However, this narrow stereotype overlooks the reality of ADHD in girls and women, who experience the disorder differently and often face unique challenges in diagnosis and treatment.

Why the Gender Gap?

Traditionally, ADHD diagnosis has relied heavily on outward behavioral symptoms, which tend to manifest differently in girls compared to boys. It is a matter of when they first started doing research, they mostly assessed boys. Girls with ADHD are more likely to exhibit inattentive symptoms like daydreaming, forgetfulness, and organization difficulties, rather than the hyperactive-impulsive behaviors typically associated with the disorder in boys. These subtle symptoms can easily be missed or misinterpreted, leading to underdiagnosis and delayed intervention for girls and women.

The Scope of ADHD in Girls and Women:
  • Internalized Symptoms: Girls with ADHD are more prone to internalizing symptoms like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, which can mask the underlying ADHD and further complicate diagnosis.
  • Social and Emotional Impact: Social challenges, perfectionism, and academic struggles are common experiences for girls and women with ADHD, impacting their self-worth and confidence.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations: The menstrual cycle, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and menopause can exacerbate ADHD symptoms in women, requiring adjustments in medication and coping strategies.
Beyond Diagnosis: The Lived Experience

Living with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD can have significant consequences for girls and women. They may struggle academically, professionally, and in their relationships. Feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and missed opportunities can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being.

While the challenges of ADHD in women are real and deserve attention, focusing solely on them can create a one-sided narrative. Here are some potential “gifts” or positive traits associated with ADHD in women:


  • Deep dives and intense engagement: When interested in a topic, women with ADHD can hyperfocus, achieving laser-like concentration and immersing themselves deeply in learning or creating.
  • Hypercreativity and out-of-the-box thinking: The ability to hyperfocus can fuel creative bursts and lead to innovative solutions and ideas that might get overlooked by others.

Emotional Intelligence:

  • Empathy and compassion: Women with ADHD often report heightened emotional sensitivity and ability to connect with others on a deeper level, fostering strong relationships and understanding.
  • Passion and enthusiasm: Their strong emotions can translate into infectious enthusiasm and passion for projects or causes they care about, inspiring others and driving positive change.

Flexibility and Adaptability:

  • Thinking outside the box: Being less rule-bound and more spontaneous, women with ADHD can adapt quickly to changing situations and find unconventional solutions.
  • Openness to new experiences: Their natural curiosity and willingness to take risks can lead to broader life experiences and personal growth.

Resilience and Persistence:

  • Overcoming challenges with grit: Having to navigate the world with ADHD often instills resilience and determination in women, enabling them to overcome obstacles and persevere through difficulties.
  • Celebrating individuality: Despite facing difficulties, many women with ADHD embrace their unique qualities and find strength in their differences.

It’s important to remember:

  • These are potential strengths, not guaranteed outcomes. Not every woman with ADHD will experience all of these traits, and individual experiences vary greatly.
  • These strengths often come alongside challenges, and navigating them requires self-awareness, support, and effective coping mechanisms.

This list aims to offer a more balanced perspective on ADHD in women, highlighting its potential strengths and encouraging them to embrace their unique qualities.

Breaking the Silence: Seeking Support and Understanding

Fortunately, there is growing awareness and understanding of ADHD in girls and women. Here are some key steps to navigate this journey:

  • Seek a qualified professional: If you want a diagnosis look for a healthcare provider or mental health specialist experienced in diagnosing and treating ADHD in girls and women.
  • Educate yourself: Learn about the different presentations of ADHD and how it can affect girls and women specifically.
  • Advocate for yourself: Don’t hesitate to seek clarification, ask questions, and express your concerns during consultations, at school, at home, and at work.
  • Connect with support: Sharing experiences and finding community with others who understand can be invaluable. This is where coaching comes in. It’s a combination of learning and training.

Remember: You are not alone. With proper diagnosis, support, and self-advocacy, women with ADHD can thrive and achieve their full potential.

Now for the big wrap-up:

By recognizing the distinct experiences of girls and women with ADHD, we can move beyond outdated stereotypes, ensure timely diagnosis and effective treatment, and empower individuals to reach their full potential. Let’s continue to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and create a more supportive environment for all those living with ADHD.

I hope this blog post provides valuable insights and resources for understanding ADHD in girls and women. If you have any further questions or require additional information, please don’t hesitate to ask.



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