My story has a happy-ending, but I believe it also shows why women are underdiagnosed for ADHD.
I am a man. Looking back, I had classic ADHD “boy” symptoms as early as six years old. I was out of school long before ever hearing about what was then called ADD. I did not seek help and treatment until I was 60 years old.
If I knew why I was anxious I suppose it would be easier to accept. The bottom line for me was that my anxiety was out of proportion to the reality of any actual worries I had in my life. After years of what I thought was just anxiety, I finally sought help by searching the Internet.
I wish I could credit the Web site that lead to learning about ADHD in adults but I do not remember it. On this site, I learned of various possible causes of the unexplained anxiety I had been experiencing for so long. It pointed out that if you really were not worried about something specific it might not be just anxiety, but perhaps testing for ADHD would lead to some answers.
My test results clearly showed that I had ADHD. Long story short, my symptoms of hyperactivity displayed as anxiety. I also happen to be over-sensitive, so if you combine that with “anxiety,” doctors did not consider this was ADHD.
Even after all the progress made in diagnosing ADHD, it is still a challenge to find the proper treatment. Much of the diagnoses relies heavily on how you were as a “boy.” I honestly do not know how I would have known I had ADHD, or to ask for help, if I had not had these symptoms as a child. It is also unlikely that I would have gotten an Adderall prescription. After a month of taking Adderall my “anxiety” disappeared.
To have gone all these years being undiagnosed, despite exhibiting classic ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity as a boy, I cannot even imagine what girls and adult women must have to go through before the possibility of having ADHD occurs to them or their doctors. Yet, with all I am learning about ADHD, I have never even seen an attempt to explain why being a woman would make you less likely to have ADHD than a man. We need our doctors to learn more about how ADHD might present in women.
I commend ADDA’s efforts in supporting the needs of all men and women with ADHD. I encourage all of us to keep working together to raise awareness within the medical community so that ADHD can be diagnosed and treated properly.