Why ADHD is Under-diagnosed in Womxn & How to Get Your Power Back

Day 5 of “10 days, 10 ways you can Shimmer”. Brought to you by Shimmer, Ruth Health, Mina Health and Illuminate Universe.

Published on
October 14, 2022

We’re HALF-WAY! Day 5 is here, and we’re talking about Womxn Empowerment. Today, is made for womxn, by womxn. Join us as we learn how to care for & advocate for ourselves throughout the years.

ADHD is not a male disorder.

So why is the diagnosis rate among American men nearly 69% higher than it is among American women?

  1. ADHD often shows up differently in womxn. Womxn are much more likely than men to have the innattentive-type presentation of ADHD, which is much less noticeable than the more male-dominated hyperactive type.
  2. It doesn’t bother others (as much). Most of the time, the first person to alert to the possibility of ADHD is a child’s teacher. Since ADHD in boys is often the hyperactive or impulsive type, there are often issues with classroom disruption - which is a much bigger attention-getter.
  3. Other diagnoses can mask (or mimic) ADHD. Depression, anxiety, and even physical health conditions like fibromyalgia, CFS, and PCOS can all cause similar symptoms. Especially in adults, doctors are much more likely to look for these things first.
  4. Lack of education and/or awareness. It’s frustratingly common, even among physicians and mental health experts, to lack the most up-to-date info on ADHD. Some doctors, therapists, and other professionals still believe myths like ADHD is only a male disorder, or that ADHD is only a childhood disorder.
  5. Masking is real, and often necessary for womxn. Society’s long list of expectations for womxn - including managing the family, home, and themselves - requires consistent executive function coordination. As a means to gain social acceptance, womxn with ADHD often mask their symptoms and problems. Hence, ADHD in womxn is routinely dismissed, misdiagnosed, and treated inadequately.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can take concrete steps to confront your shame and fear, and get your power back.

Here are a few places you can start:

  1. Pay attention to the voice in your head — and tell it when it’s wrong. If you catch yourself thinking, “I’m so dumb” or “I can’t do anything right,” push back. Remind yourself that, regardless of the end result, you did the best you could under the circumstances.
  2. Follow the 5×5 rule. Do you tirelessly berate yourself for tiny mistakes? If so, try to follow the simple “5×5 rule:” If you won’t remember it in five years, the mistake is only worth five minutes of your thought and time. Think of the 5×5 system as a goal — not a rule you must follow without fail.
  3. Say No When You Need To: Nobody can do it all. We put on a smile and say everything’s fine when we’re screaming on the inside. Hiding our true selves is exhausting, but we often feel like we don’t have a choice. You do have a choice - choose YOU.
  4. Reframe your symptoms into positives: Impulsive? That means you’re spontaneous. Easily distracted? That means you notice thing that other people miss while their heads are down working. Making an effort to identify the positives of your ADHD — instead of dwelling solely on the negatives — will help you figure out your strengths, your quirks, and what systems and strategies will work best for you.

Womxnhood is to unapologetically be YOU - let’s celebrate that!

A note & freebies from our partners

For day 5, our partners are Ruth Health, Mina Health and Illuminate Universe. Hear from them about what Womxn Empowerment means to them.

Join our newsletter to get the following freebies from our partners:

  • Ruth Health: 1 month free of Ask A Doula from Ruth Health
  • Mina Health: At-home menopause hormone test for only $50 (typically $125) from Mina Health

Thank you for tuning in, and remember to keep an eye out for the next 5 days for more resources, tips, and freebies!

With love,

The Shimmer Team

Thank you to our partners: Ruth Health & Alison Greenberg (Ruth Health, CEO & Co-founder), Mina Health & Nina Joshi (Mina Health, CEO & Co-founder), Illuminate Universe & Alina Huang (Illuminate Universe, Director)

And to our content team: Noelle Daoire (Shimmer, ADHD Coach), and Molisha Shah (Shimmer, Founders Associate)

Live better, with ADHD
Shimmer is the #1 coaching platform for adults with ADHD. Build a life you love through personalized 1:1 video coaching, handcrafted productivity tools, and science-backed learning modules.