10 Unique Struggles Facing Women with ADD

Women with ADD

Living with attention-deficit disorder (ADD), also known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can be difficult for anyone, but it can be particularly challenging for women. A 2014 review of existing studies confirms that women experience distinct risks when it comes to ADD, which affects approximately 4.4% of American adults.



Living with attention-deficit disorder (ADD), also known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can be difficult for anyone, but it can be particularly challenging for women. Click To Tweet

Here are 10 of the biggest challenges facing women with ADD.

1. Self-esteem issues

Girls and women with ADD often don’t display the hallmark hyperactivity that is typically associated with the condition, which is why this blog will refer to it as ADD rather than ADHD. Instead, they have inattentive ADD, which is one of the 7 types of ADD identified by the brain imaging work at Amen Clinics. Inattentive ADD is characterized by a lack of focus, distraction, trouble paying attention to details, forgetfulness, low motivation, and other symptoms. Sadly, these traits are often viewed as character flaws, and people are labeled as slow, lazy, spacey, or unmotivated, which can lead to self-esteem issues.

2. Remaining undiagnosed

While hyperactive people bring negative attention to themselves with their constant chatter and conflict-driven behavior, girls and women with inattentive ADD tend to be quiet and distracted. For this reason, girls and women with ADD often go undiagnosed and untreated, which causes problems throughout their lifetime.

3. Internalizing

Females with ADD tend to internalize their problems and blame themselves rather than others, which leads to higher levels of anxiety.

4. Unplanned pregnancies

Teens and women with ADD are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as sexual activity. A 2019 study shows that girls with ADD are 6 times more likely to become pregnant as teenagers compared with those who don’t have the condition. Among patients at Amen Clinics, there is a much higher percentage of teenage pregnancies in ADD girls. They do not think through the consequences of their behavior.

5. Sexual issues

Distractibility makes it harder to have an orgasm. Think about it—what does an orgasm require (besides a reasonable lover)? The answer is focus. You have to pay attention to the feeling long enough in order to make it happen. Many people, especially women, with ADD struggle to have orgasms, which can lead to relationship problems and feelings of dissatisfaction.

6. Hormonal influences

A woman’s hormones play a major role in ADD and can worsen around the time of puberty, during the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle, and also around the time of menopause. A number of brain SPECT studies have shown an overall decrease in brain activity when estrogen levels are low. During perimenopause or menopause, many women who previously had only mild ADD develop more acute symptoms.

7. More at risk for depression

Major depressive disorder is more than twice as common in teenage girls with ADD than in girls without the condition, according to research in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Brain imaging studies have demonstrated that females, on average, have a larger deep limbic system than males. This gives females several advantages and disadvantages. Due to the larger deep limbic brain women are more in touch with their feelings and are generally better able to express their feelings than men. They also have an increased ability to bond and be connected to others. Having a larger deep limbic system, however, leaves females somewhat more susceptible to depression.

8. Chronic stress connected to caretaking

Women are expected to be the primary caretakers in our society, but when they have difficulty planning and organizing their own lives, doing so for their children can make daily living seem overwhelming. When daily duties related to child-rearing pile-up, it can lead to feelings of emotional overwhelm and chronic stress.

9. Feeling like a failure

Organizing holiday parties, family dinners, and birthdays—these are some of the everyday areas where women are expected to excel. But when you forget to send a birthday card, neglect to call your mom on Mother’s Day or overlook a key ingredient in a recipe for a big holiday dinner it can make you feel like a failure.

10. Self-harm

Girls with ADD are at a higher risk for self-harm and suicidal behavior when they reach adulthood, according to findings in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

ADD (or ADHD) and co-existing depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. What keeps the Amon clinic from mentioning the great efficacy of Neurofeedback training on the ADD brain? It is evident in an QEEG, high beta waves combined with over activated high theta waves and more contribute to ADD/ADHD symptoms. Neurofeedback works. It’s efficacy is thoroughly documented. In conjunction with a SPECT image lends to an enormous amount of information about a person’s brain.

    Comment by Beverly R. Saller — July 4, 2021 @ 9:48 PM

  2. Please see helpful things that teens and young adult ladies with ADHD can do to help themselves have a better more well balanced life. Please send helpful tips for.
    Better sleep. What can help sleep paralysis? Thank you for anything u can provide to me to help my granddaughter
    Thank you and bless you

    Comment by M C Behton — July 5, 2021 @ 1:10 AM

  3. How does a premenopausal 47 year old go about getting tested for ADD without her doctor looking at her with pity as though she’s dumb? Nothing kicks you in your soul harder than trying to get help because you don’t feel normal and having someone dismiss it. Would love suggestions.

    Comment by Justine McKenna — July 5, 2021 @ 5:16 AM

  4. Menopause is no joke. With ADD it is a nightmare. What hormone/supplements do y’all recommend?

    Comment by Kristy Sharp — July 5, 2021 @ 7:13 AM

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