Treating ADHD Symptoms in Women with Talking Therapy
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects people of all genders, but its symptoms can manifest differently in women than men. While medication is often prescribed for managing and treating ADHD symptoms, talking therapy can be an effective alternative or supplement. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the recommended talking therapy for individuals who have been diagnosed, offering numerous techniques to revise cognitive distortions and can be specifically tailored to support women with ADHD.
A late diagnosis of ADHD can significantly impact a woman’s life. Often, many women have already developed coping mechanisms and adapted to their symptoms without realising they are related to a specific neurodevelopmental condition like ADHD. A delay in seeking a diagnosis can also link to feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem, which can present challenges in both personal and professional life. From relationships, work, education, and overall quality of life, it is essential to understand the challenges women with ADHD face and to provide them with appropriate support and resources to improve their mental wellbeing.
Treating ADHD symptoms in women is similar to treating men; it typically involves a combination of medication, talking therapy, and lifestyle changes.
However, treating ADHD in women differs slightly because symptoms can manifest in less obvious or well-known ways. Women with ADHD may not exhibit the hyperactivity and impulsivity commonly associated with the disorder. Research from 2020 corroborates that females are more likely to be inattentive, while males are more likely to have combined symptoms with higher rates of impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Do women experience ADHD differently from men?
Women with undiagnosed ADHD may also experience more internalising symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, which can be overlooked or misdiagnosed as the primary problem. Women are also more likely to perceive themselves as more impaired and experience adverse events as more painful because struggling with emotional regulation is a part of the condition’s symptoms.
Many women who receive an ADHD diagnosis in adulthood express how it was a life-changing event. A better understanding of their symptoms and utilising the best resources to develop strategies for managing their ADHD can lead to a renewed lease on life which manifests in a rise in self-esteem, improved relationships, and a greater understanding of how to use neurodiversity to their advantage.
Can people mask ADHD symptoms?
Yes, people can mask or overcompensate for their ADHD symptoms. In fact, some research suggests that individuals with higher cognitive abilities may be more likely to compensate for their symptoms, making it more challenging to diagnose the disorder correctly.
Additionally, some individuals may be better able to recognise and understand their symptoms, making it easier for them to compensate for them.
However, despite these compensatory strategies, ADHD symptoms can still significantly impact an individual’s daily life, particularly in areas such as time management, organisation, and task completion. Furthermore, masking or compensating for symptoms can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Is talking therapy effective for ADHD?
Talking therapy can empower women to work through emotional and mental health challenges, develop coping skills, and improve overall well-being. The best and recommended treatment of choice for ADHD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
One of the key components of CBT for ADHD is behaviour modification/cognitive restructuring. One challenge for individuals with ADHD is often getting started on tasks or activities that may be less interesting or less immediately rewarding. Behavioural modification can be tailored to an individual’s needs and goals.
CBT for ADHD may also include social skills training, which can help individuals who struggle with making meaningful connections improve their communication and relationship-building skills.
Some common areas where some women with ADHD feel their social skills are weak include:
- Feeling socially connected with friends, acquaintances and business associates
- Mastering the multi-tasking switch between work, home and family,
- Unable to ask for help or assert needs, and feeling isolated and sad
What are the benefits of talking therapy for treating ADHD in women?
One benefit of undergoing CBT is that it can be tailored to the individual’s specific needs. For example, CBT can be used to address symptoms of anxiety or depression that often co-occur with ADHD. This personalised approach can help women with ADHD achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.
Another benefit of CBT is that it is a non-pharmacological treatment option, which can particularly appeal to women who prefer not to take medication. Medication can have side effects and may not be effective for all individuals. Talking therapy, such as CBT, can provide an alternative or complement to medication and may be particularly helpful for women who experience side effects from medication or who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Onebright for ADHD diagnosis, treatment and mental health support
Talking therapy, such as CBT, can be an important part of treatment for women with ADHD. Onebright is dedicated to helping women with neurodiverse conditions to develop strategies for managing their symptoms, address co-occurring conditions like anxiety and depression, and improve their overall quality of life.
For more information on Onebright’s on how to get diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and options for treatment pathways, contact our team.