ADHD: Suffering in Silence: Women With Adult ADHD (cont.)
Although these girls may get good grades or are praised for their work, they
often feel they don't deserve it, and that chance had something to do with their
success. So they work harder to prove themselves, to the point of sacrificing
sleep and good nutrition, or setting up a very rigid schedule for themselves in
a sometimes obsessive-compulsive manner.
As girls become women and take on more responsibilities, the stakes grow
higher, even without ADHD. Many of today's women are expected to not only work,
but also take care of the house and children.
The average woman is already doing more, says Terry Matlen, MSW, author of
Survival Tips For Women with ADHD: Beyond Piles, Palms, and Post-its.
She says, "If you add the burden of ADHD symptoms -- getting overwhelmed, being
forgetful, being hyperactive, or being disorganized -- to deal with that, on top
of taking care of children... plus being a wife and handling a job, it's just more
than one can imagine."
Instead of recognizing the adult ADHD factor, however, many women and their
families see their difficulties as merely a part of the stress of modern-day
living. Other factors that can aggravate ADHD symptoms and potentially throw
women off the ADHD trail include:
- Hormonal fluctuations. Symptoms of adult ADHD could tax
already challenged minds and bodies. Women with PMS, for example, can
already be oversensitive and irritable. For women with perimenopause, Matlen
says it's not unusual to already have some trouble with memory, cognitive
skills, and word retrieval. Then there's also the emotional rollercoaster
that often accompanies pregnancy and post-partum depression. The drastic
changes in hormone levels could certainly wreak havoc with mental health and well-being. Add
ADHD to the mix, and the burden could certainly become greater.
- Iron deficiency due to menstruation. Research has shown
that mild iron deficiency, as experienced by some females, could affect
cognitive skills, says L. Eugene Arnold, MD, a child psychiatrist and author
of A Family Guide to ADHD. Coupled with the symptoms of ADHD, iron deficiency could become a
- Other mental disorders. As
many as two-thirds of children with ADHD have at least one co-existing
condition, according to Children and Adults With Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), an advocacy group. Depression and anxiety are
common ailments experienced by people with ADHD. They also tend to be more
prevalent in women in general.
- Personal problems. Girls and women who have been
physically abused, or those who have not had good role models for things
such as motherhood and organization could exhibit ADHD-like symptoms. These,
and other personal factors, could complicate the identification of the
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