On Your Mind

Unseen and Unheard: ADHD x Women 

By Vyshnavi Pottepalli Gabi Powell Heidi Conlin, MS, LPC Jillian LoPiano, MD

Post Image



Space Cadet.  

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) goes by a lot of nicknames, but she’s still not a well-understood condition. And as we often see in women’s health, even less so with Betties. 

Males are roughly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD in childhood as girls. Wowzers. Consequently, Betties are forced to deal with the symptoms, often going years before receiving a diagnosis + getting treatment. But the question is: why? 


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental condition characterized by a pattern of symptoms that typically fall into three buckets: 



Some examples: 

Getting off task

Difficulty staying focused

Disorganized (not due to defiance or lack of comprehension)



Some examples: 

Running into the street without looking

Interrupting others

Making big decisions without considering long-term consequences



Some examples: 

Extreme restlessness 




ADHD is a condition that comes in many shades, caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and biological factors. Meaning: diagnosing it isn’t as straightforward as a blood test and treatment is unique to every person + the severity of their symptoms.  


While ADHD is biologically no different between males and females, gender bias + stigma have certainly shaped how it was once diagnosed and explain the trend we see now in Betties’ delayed diagnosis.   

Males often express the hyperactive symptoms of ADHD, which is typically recognized as *the* sign of ADHD, while Betties typically present inattentive symptoms – think: daydreaming, interrupting others, forgetting important items, lateness, and messiness. These less-disruptive signs are often overlooked, making it more difficult for a parent, doctor, or teacher to identify it as a problem early on. Additionally, just like anxiety, Betties’ hormone fluctuations can exacerbate symptoms, playing into a delayed diagnosis.  

But when untreated ADHD flies under the radar, the consequences can be damaging. Betties are more likely to deal with shame, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and even suicide attempts.  

But, finally, the gap is closing and awareness is growing, giving Betties an answer to their undiagnosed symptoms.  


Data from the CDC showed a 344 percent increase in women aged 15-44 filling ADHD medication prescriptions from 2003 to 2015. Society is finally catching up and women+ with ADHD are finally receiving the attention, diagnosis, and treatment they deserve. For Betties just now coming around to their own experience with ADHD, here’s our recommendation for what to do next: 

1. Seek out a professional diagnosis. 

Y’all, there are a lot of diagnostic tools out there, but most are complex and only a few are very good. A physiological evaluation + test will assess your experience: How many symptoms do you have? Have you had them since childhood? And do they affect two or more parts of your life?


2. Meet with a medical provider for a full workup. 

Because ADHD can occur alongside other conditions, a visit to the doc can rule out/address any medical issues related to your symptoms.


3. Find a treatment that works for you. 

Because every Betty’s “brand” of ADHD is unique, each will respond best to a treatment plan tailored to their specific symptoms + lifestyle. This may be medication, counseling, or a combination of the two to understand + manage symptoms.


Join the conversation

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