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36 Common Signs and Symptoms of Women with ADHD + Coping Tips

Updated: Jan 20

ADHD manifests differently for women. Learn the unique signs and symptoms.

A woman lays on a messy floor with clothing around her.

In recent years, more experts have begun recognizing the effects of ADHD in women. While it’s best known as a children’s disorder, it often impacts adults. And that impact can be devastating.


(Need resources right away? Get the women's ADD/ADHD detailed checklist and resource kit here. Or, if you're a couple struggling with ADHD, check out the virtual ADHD Couple's Palooza.


Article Highlights:

Everyday Signs

Symptoms in Women

Self-Reported Symptoms Strengths

Coping

ADHD Symptom Checklist Find Resources


ADHD, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (also called ADD), is commonly overlooked in girls and women. Many adults don’t realize they have it until well into their 20s, or even decades later.


Often women will piece together their symptoms on their own, a therapist will finally diagnose them, or their child’s diagnosis will prompt them to realize they have it too. Women may be more likely to have the inattentive, or quiet, type of ADHD, which is more often missed.


Looking for a complete checklist of adult ADHD symptoms? Get this helpful resource guide and kit for women. Check it out here.

This women's ADHD download includes a complete symptom checklist along with planning pages, guides, and more.

Everyday Signs

Some of the day-to-day experiences of women may include:

  • Frequently losing physical items like phones, keys, or paperwork

  • Often running late

  • Forgetting or overlooking important items, despite consequences

  • Becoming frustrated and down on yourself due to messiness or falling behind

  • Tending to have negative thoughts overall about yourself and your capabilities

  • Tending to have depression, anxiety, or other mental challenges

  • Pushing projects off until the last minute, and then marathoning to get it done


These problems can make life very difficult. On the other hand, women with this condition are often very creative, may have above-average intelligence, and are probably able to manage well in a crisis. Many highly successful women have been diagnosed with this disorder.


Here’s a look at the overall picture of adult attention-deficit disorder, the important elements to know about, it’s strengths and weaknesses for women, and next steps you can take.


This infographic includes a checklist with common signs and symptoms in women with ADHD.

How Common is it?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many women have ADHD. Very little research has looked at this, and the data available is outdated and narrow in scope. Some data shows that at least 4% of adults have this condition, and that men are more likely to be diagnosed.


I know in my practice, I run across more women who have ADHD than those who don’t. The negative thoughts that often accompany this condition tend to overlap and worsen other mental health struggles.


Because we know so many girls and women go undiagnosed, it’s difficult to confirm national statistics. It’s possible that millions more females qualify for this diagnosis than is currently reported.

Symptoms Specific to Women

One reason women may be diagnosed less is because symptoms can present differently than with men. According to the DSM-V, there are three different ways ADHD may present. Essentially the underlying condition is the same, but the symptoms can appear a bit differently, and are split into three categories.


Here’s a look at the symptoms of each type, including hyperactive, inattentive and combined type. Symptoms may lean towards one category or may be mixed. Women and girls more often have the predominantly inattentive type.


This symptom list is based on the DSM-V, however additional examples have been added for your reference.


Inattentive Type:

  • Often makes careless mistakes or misses details relating to school, work, or other responsibilities (might overlook a form or miss an assignment)

  • Has difficulty sustaining attention during tasks (particularly repeated and/or boring tasks)

  • Often seems to not listen when spoken to (because the mind is wandering, "spacing out," or focused on other things)

  • Difficulty finishing homework, chores, or duties at work due to being side tracked or losing focus

  • Has a difficult time organizing tasks

  • Reluctance to start tedious jobs (ie, returning e-mails, completing forms, cleaning the kitchen)

  • Frequently misplaces important items such as phones, car keys, books, papers

  • Often distracted by surroundings, noises, activity, or one’s own wandering thoughts (which may spiral into s