I am often asked: “Am I the only one who (fill in the blank)?”

Some of those fill in the blanksare things like, “I can’t stand being touched”, or, “I can see someone’s mouth moving but can’t hear their words.”
There are lots and lots of challenges and so- called unusual behaviors we, as women with ADHD often experience. And we can feel so misunderstood! So, I’ve listed some of these symptoms that you won’t see in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that mental health professionals use in diagnosing ADHD and other conditions.
No, you’re not alone and I hope this will help you get to that place of not having to feel so out of step with others: these are commonly seen in ADHD! In fact, add me to the list: I experience many of these as well. 

Tip: share this with people who you feel need a better understanding of just how complicated living with ADHD can be.

Don’t forget that I’ll be rotating this newsletter with my 3 Minutes with Terry mini-mailings. So please do keep an eye out for that one. It’s a quick, easy, and fun read.

20 Secret Symptoms in Women with ADHD

Not all ADHD presents the same. Some women are hyperactive; others are sluggish. Some love having a lot of commotion and stimuli in their lives; others need to frequently retreat to a quiet space to recharge.

Though most or many of us have read or heard about the typical symptoms seen in ADHD, there’s far more to us than being distracted or disorganized.

Consider the “secret” symptoms below that are not often listed in the ADHD literature but which are commonly described by women with ADHD. Is it any wonder that your daily activities can be so overwhelming?

1. Hypersensitivity to noise, touch, smell, and other sensory experiences. Women with small children, especially, are often overwhelmed by the constant interruptions, the noise level and commotion at home. But any of us can feel the onslaught of sensory overload, anywhere.

2. Feelings of low self-worth. You may feel you should be able to “do it all” and feel defeated when you can’t keep up. Juggling parenting and work responsibilities can simply be overwhelming.

3. Hypersensitivity to criticism. High expectations since childhood of being a “good girl” can make women with ADHD more vulnerable to these sensitivities. Our sensitivity to criticism sometimes indirectly builds a wall and makes intimacy more challenging. (Also known as Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria)

4. Poor sense of time, often running late.

5. Being emotionally charged and easily upset. Don’t you hate when people say you’re too sensitive?  

6. Starting projects but seeming unable to finish them. Do you have piles of empty photo books? Heaps of unfinished sewing projects? Bills in piles, just staring at you?

7. Taking on too much. On top of work and parenting, there is often the need for women to take on even more, like volunteering, helping out with school-related functions, making meals from scratch, taking on extra projects at work, etc.

8. Difficulty remembering names. This often gets worse before, during, and after menopause.

9. Saying things without thinking, often hurting others’ feelings. Women often express themselves much more freely than men. Enter ADHD, and we can often say what first comes to mind, which can inadvertently hurt feelings.

10. Appearing self-absorbed/Not listening. With ADHD, we can be so involved in our inner world or dialogue, that it seems to others that we are not invested in the conversation or relationship.

We may be trying to remember your name, or drifting into distracting thoughts (‘what was I going to say? I forgot!’). I swear this just happened as someone was talking to me: ‘should I name the new puppy Hank or Skippy?’

11. Engaging in addictive behaviors. While addiction is associated with ADHD in general, women tend to struggle with addictions like shopping, TV binge watching, and overeating.

12. Problems with word retrieval. This often worsens during menopause.

13. Poor handwriting. This can be an embarrassing issue, as society seems more accepting of poor penmanship in men.

14. Difficulty with boring, repetitive tasks. Yes, let’s talk about laundry, meal planning, household chores, and so much more. We do not “do” boredom very well. 

15. Spending time ruminating. Obsessing is common with ADHD, but women tend to spend even more time ruminating than men with the condition.

16. Difficulty making decisions. Anything that requires many choices, like grocery shopping, can be problematic.

17. Clumsiness and poor coordination.

18. Tiring easily, or conversely, difficulty sitting still.

19. Difficulty falling asleep and difficulty waking up the next morning. Again, made worse during menopause.

20. ADHD symptoms in general get worse during hormonal changes. 

* Can you add more to my list? Please do so in the comment section, below.   

* I write about most of these in depth here on my website in the blog section at https://addconsults.com/blogs/ and if these things overwhelm you, talk to me! I offer online consultations for men and women with ADHD. 

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