Part 1 of 2 ADHD in women is an extremely common condition. More than 10 percent of American women have ADHD, which is a disorder of the central nervous system. Women with ADHD also tend to have more difficulty concentrating on three-D projects, such as writing and reading. While researchers are not exactly sure why this occurs, most believe it has to do with changes in neurotransmitters known as dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine and norepinephrine are substances that allow nerves to communicate with each other.
Common Symptoms of ADHD in Women:
Lack of concentration
The lack of focus and hyperactivity is considered “comorbid” with ADHD, which means they are both symptoms of the disorder itself. However, there are some instances where women are treated separately from their co-occurring conditions. For instance, children with ADHD that also have Asperger’s syndrome or a co-occurring disorder such as obesity, depression, alcohol abuse or drug addiction may need to receive separate treatment. In these cases, the medications used to treat the child with ADHD will likely be used in conjunction with therapy and behavioral modification techniques.
Women with ADHD have certain characteristics that are unique to the disorder:
Women are much more likely than men to exhibit symptoms of both hyperactivity-impulsivity and ADHD combined with depression or other mood disorders.
Women tend to be more emotionally intense and are much more prone to mood swings than men.
Women with ADHD also report more frequent sleep issues than men.
They also may experience higher levels of anxiety and depression and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.
There are four criteria for diagnosing Women with ADHD:
The first is that symptoms must interfere with life and/or academic functioning.
The second is that females must be seen by a specialist such as a psychiatrist or child psychologist or a nurse practitioner.
The third criterion is that the specialist must determine that inattentive type ADHD is present.
The fourth criteria requires that the female must have been treated with psychostimulants for at least six months before she can be diagnosed with ADHD.
Girls with hyperactivity disorder have been less well studied than ADHD in boys. There are a number of theories about the gender differences in ADHD but no hard facts. Researchers believe that girls are affected more by biological factors than boys and that boys are more likely to be treated with prescription medications rather than behavioral therapies. It is believed that girls are less likely than boys to engage in risky behavior and that genetic factors are responsible for the symptoms of hyperactivity disorder in boys and girls alike.
Boys and girls respond differently to treatment regimens. Boys typically respond to positive parenting and positive reinforcement treatments. Girls generally respond to dietary changes and medication.
Diet and Exercise have consistently shown to be effective treatments for women with ADHD. However, one important factor that must be considered in treatment is that the women with ADHD are normally pregnant or nursing and are in a state of low nutritional condition. This can affect the results of the treatment. Women with ADHD may respond to treatment initially but once their babies arrive they may not be receptive to medication. The bottom line is that diet and exercise need to be part of an overall treatment program for women with ADHD.
Dietary interventions have particularly shown success in controlling obesity. Women with ADHD and obesity have a greater risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Impacts of ADHD on women varies by factors such as the level of body fat and activity, but all women with ADHD are at increased risk of becoming obese. Thus, diet and exercise must be a central component of treatment.
A well-controlled trial by Bahnsman et al. found that women with ADHD had a greater fat mass and a higher fat mass index than women without ADHD. Women with ADHD also had more significant reductions in their BMI than women without ADHD. These findings are important, especially since the typical treatment protocol for both genders, dietary control, has not been proven to reduce obesity in a meaningful way. This study is important because it adds another possible mechanism through which the hyperactivity-impulsivity factor may interfere with diet and exercise. This brings us to the second point made above: women with ADHD may be more sensitive to diet and exercise than women without ADHD.
The third important point is that women with ADHD are likely to be over-sensitive to diet