If you’re a woman who suspects you have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) you need this ADHD in Women Checklist. ADHD is a condition that affects people’s behaviour and, while previously thought to be a condition that affected males, is pretty gender-neutral!
ADHD is something that we attribute only to children, but it is scarily common in adults too. For women (of any age), it’s hard to get an ADHD diagnosis, because our symptoms can present differently or diagnosed as depression, mental health difficulties, anxiety and more. In fact, these can be symptoms of undiagnosed or unmanaged ADHD.
Types of ADHD
ADHD was once classified as ADD or ADHD. Hyperactive and impulsive symptoms were associated with ADHD and inattentive symptoms like trouble paying attention or managing your time were diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Today, regardless of the specific symptoms, the condition is called ADHD and you can be diagnosed with one of three presentations.
What kind of ADHD are you?
There are three types of ADHD and usually a physician or clinical psychologist/psychiatrist will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, how many of these you exhibit from each of the lists below, and if the symptoms are noticeable in two or more settings (e.g. at home or at school/work).
According to my new favourite ADHD resource: ADDitude Magazine, “symptoms must interfere with the child’s functioning or development, and at least some of the symptoms must have been apparent before age 12. Older teens and adults may need to demonstrate just five of these symptoms in multiple settings.” The symptoms need to affect the person’s ability to perform to his or her potential, VeryWellMind agrees.
The three types of ADHD
- Primarily Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD
- Primarily Inattentive ADHD (formerly called ADD)
- Combined Type ADHD
Hyperactive and Impulsive Type ADHD
People with hyperactive ADHD often can’t keep still. They fidget, squirm and struggle to stay in one place, traits commonly associated with children in school, especially boys running around jumping off the walls and creating havoc. People with ADHD, of any age, may talk non-stop, interrupt others and struggle with impulsivity/self-control. This type of ADHD is easily recognised and often diagnosed in children, particularly males.
Inattentive Type ADHD
People with inattentive ADHD may have difficulty paying attention, following instructions, and make careless mistakes because they are easily distracted by external stimuli. They can have a poor memory and often lose things. They might find it difficult to stick to tedious and time-consuming tasks – and could procrastinate a lot! This type of ADHD is more common in adults and girls – and was formerly known as ADD.
Combined Type ADHD
People with combined-type ADHD demonstrate six or more symptoms of inattention, and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Of the three types of ADHD, most people fall into the combined type. According to recent research, approximately 70% of adults with ADHD have combined type ADHD.
ADHD checklist for women: Do symptoms change with age?
Some characteristics of ADHD can change as you get older. Some women find that their symptoms, especially hyperactivity and impulsiveness, can decline as they get older, while symptoms of inattention can increase as you get older.
Why women need an ADHD checklist
Whether you grew up with Inattentive or Combined Type ADHD, there’s a good chance that nobody noticed. Girls with less visible (or noisy) ADHD tend to sit quietly or their teachers label them as shy or withdrawn. By not causing any problems, you may have slipped the diagnostic net – because nobody ever saw the need to get you assessed. In fact, many girls with ADHD still manage to function at school, or even perform academically. Like me, it’s taken them to adulthood to realise that some of those traits that got them through school, were actually at the root of the issue!
Blue-footed booby success formula: Self-testing ADHD
- Go through the quick ADHD checklist for women below, which provides a list of symptoms attributed to the different types of ADHD. Tick what applies to you to see if you meet any of the diagnostic criteria. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s certainly enough for you to see how different the symptoms are for hyperactive and impulsive vs inattentive – and notice a pattern.
- See if you have more of one type of ADHD or another; you might find you have a mix – which is the combined-type ADHD
- Check out the full checklist to see if you have ADHD and see what level of severity your ADHD is.
- Go see a doctor, psychologist or ADHD specialist to confirm your diagnosis and treatment plan
Quick checklist for inattentive type ADHD:
You might have inattentive type ADHD if you:
- Have a short attention span and find yourself easily distracted
- Seem inattentive – you find it difficult to listen or pay attention
- Are often unable to follow or understand instructions
- Avoid or procrastinate on tasks that involve effort
- Find it difficult to stick to tedious or time-consuming tasks
- Frequently forget things
- Constantly lose or misplace things
- Don’t pay attention to detail (unless you’re in hyperfocus mode)
- Make careless mistakes
- Constantly change an activity or task
- Struggle to organise tasks
Quick checklist for hyperactive and impulsive type ADHD
You may have hyperactive ADHD if you:
- Find it difficult to sit still, or pace frequently
- Constantly fidget or squirm
- Struggle to concentrate
- Talk excessively
- Often interrupt conversations or respond to questions before they have been fully asked
- Jump, run or climb at unsuitable times (as a child). As a teenager or adult, you might look physically still, but experience internal restlessness
- Are energetic – you’ve been described as “always on the go” or “driven by a motor”
- Come across as impatient – waiting your turn is difficult, whether at play, in a line, or during a conversation
If you have a mix of these symptoms, it’s likely you have combined-type ADHD.
ADHD checklist for women: Why it’s important to know
Knowing what type of ADHD you have is helpful, because you can see what parts of you are unique to your personality, and what parts are symptoms that you’ve been experiencing your whole life and that you have internalised as your identity.
For most ADHD women or girls, some of the symptoms they experience result in depression, lack of confidence and self-esteem, or even anxiety. You might feel judged for not fitting in, for failing to pay attention at school or constantly losing or misplacing things. You might have been called scatter-brained, absent-minded, disorganised or careless.
Both adults and children with ADHD often call themselves stupid or lazy, when they are neither stupid nor lazy. Most women with ADHD struggle with shame and guilt their entire life – and knowing that you have ADHD can be a huge relief.
If you have ADHD (or suspect you do), whatever your age or gender, you might believe you are odd, incapable of functioning in normal life, or just that you struggle with ‘adulting’. You might have struggled or continue to struggle with anxiety or depression, not realising that this can be a byproduct of untreated ADHD.
You may have failed to complete too many things because you lost interest, or felt as if you are incapable of learning (probably because you couldn’t concentrate for long enough, or simply because you feel like you aren’t good enough. It’s time to assess yourself. If the results of your self-assessment indicated ADHD, it’s worth seeing a medical professional to confirm your own diagnosis.
What to do if you have ADHD
ADHD is very treatable if you have it. While it can have detrimental effects, people who have ADHD are often very creative and adaptable. You’ll be joining the likes of George Bernard Shaw and Agatha Christie, Walt Disney, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Mozart. Albert Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Steven Hawkins are just some of the pioneers who lived with ADHD.
I recently watched a video on ADHD, which basically says that people who suffer from ADHD need to top up what’s missing – that which other people’s bodies do naturally for them. While people with ADHD can be more creative, ADHD can also sap creativity. Medication or therapy can be very helpful.
Without more ado, here is the ADHD checklist that you can complete to get an idea of whether you have ADHD or not. Download the checklist for free here.
My ADHD journey
As a child, I was quiet, shy and withdrawn, constantly daydreaming or doodling and often got lost in books. I was repeatedly told I could try harder, that I was ‘not living up to my potential’. I was easily distracted, overly emotional and had very low self-esteem.
I struggled to make friends (imposter syndrome) and had real issues paying attention in subjects that required long periods of concentration or effort, such as science or maths. Despite the fact that I struggled to get started on homework, I was able to hyperfocus for periods of time (especially for exams) and usually met deadlines (even if I did do everything last minute).
Things definitely seemed to ramp up as an adult, a common trend in females. Still able to hyper-focus, I could easily lose interest in projects or hobbies, quickly moving on to new interests. I relied on lists, reminders, and alarms for everything (and still do). I am often late, leave everything for the last minute and struggle to sleep/focus if I have somewhere to be (regardless of whether it’s the following day or later that day).
I lose or misplace things constantly and frequently forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Daily activities can be overwhelming. I frequently impulse buy and do things like:
- Talk non-stop when excited about a topic or rarely talk at all
- Interrupt others if I feel I can relate to what they are saying
- Get annoyed by how disorganised and inefficient and I can be
- Constantly feel anxious
- Suffer from insomniac episodes/sleep disorders
- Fidget constantly because I’m unable to relax
- Plan things, but struggle to finish them
- Feel tired all the time
- Copy others – feeling like I don’t have my own identity (I copy others)
- Suffer from imposter syndrome
- Worry a lot
- Want everyone to like me even if I don’t like everyone
- Struggle with overeating/ bingeing / food-related issues
- Have low self-esteem
Unfortunately, it took me to adulthood to realise that I had ADHD. I’d always known I was a day-dreamer, that my head was “lost in the clouds.” However, I’d honed myself into a semi-functioning adult by keeping lists, taking notes and using constant reminders and productivity tools. As I got older, I noticed my productivity and organisational skills slipping. I became increasingly forgetful and scatty, losing things all the time and even forgetting appointments.
Things started to slip to the point that I was getting worried that I wouldn’t be able to cope, with life, with my work, with my relationship. I’d always thought I was kind of weird, but it was getting out of hand. Doing the ADHD checklist for women showed me that my ADHD was severe, and that I needed help. I went to my doctor for confirmation and with therapy and medication, am slowly learning to cope with daily life. I really hope this ADHD checklist for women helps you too!
If you completed this ADHD checklist for women, please share your experience in the comments below or shoot us an email.
We’d love to hear from you!