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How Do ADHD and Anxiety Present Differently in Women?

Three women talking and sharing with each other outside in a park.

Mental health conditions are very individualized and can affect everyone differently, regardless of gender. There are, however, different trends and patterns that can be seen in women compared to men.

It’s important to understand that there are a variety of symptoms for each disorder and women may need to look a little deeper to uncover what’s really going on.

ADHD in Women

Getting an ADHD diagnosis as a woman can be a bit more complicated. ADHD is most commonly diagnosed during the childhood/teen years, but is often overlooked for girls. There are many reasons why they’re not referred as often compared to boys. 

As they grow up, women also learn how to mask their symptoms to appear more normal and fit in. While this may help in some social situations, it can lead to missing the diagnosis and not receiving the proper treatment.

Silliness or Ditziness

ADHD can affect executive functioning skills and make higher-level tasks harder to navigate. Women with ADHD are often smart, but come across as silly or ditzy because of the decreased focus and periods of spacing out. They have trouble giving instructions or directions. They may lose items and appear careless. 

Women who know they struggle with coming off in this manner may try to cover it up by playing the role of the jokester. Being able to laugh at themselves and laugh it off is easier than having to explain why they’re struggling to begin with. Plus, for some women, they don’t know why they’re having these struggles. 


Women with ADHD are more likely to show symptoms of inattention. This inattention can manifest in various ways, like decreased focus, distractibility, and forgetfulness. They may struggle with attention to details with work, demonstrate a short attention span, and be distractible while completing an activity. 

Social conversations can be hard, and it may appear that they aren’t as interested in the topic. Relationships may also struggle for this reason. 

They mean well and have no intention of giving divided attention, but focusing can be quite difficult. They may forget details of conversations or lose (i.e. misplace) their belongings. 


One of the most commonly reported symptoms of ADHD is an urge for perfectionism. ADHD causes a person to want everything to be perfect and achieve perfection in all tasks. Women are more prone to set high standards — unrealistic ones at that. 

It can also present more like procrastination. Because there’s this need for perfection, it can cause delays in task initiation and completion. To the outside world, this can look like being an overachiever, goal oriented, or just overworked. 

A Different Type of Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is probably the most commonly recognized symptom of ADHD. When you think about it, you probably think about very pronounced physical movements and active behaviors.

Hyperactivity in males leans more towards the disruptive side. You’ll see hand and foot movements, tapping, high energy, and very vocal actions. 

For women, their version of hyperactivity is more discrete. They may experience being more talkative with others around them, which can be written off as being more social. They also display more subtle behaviors like picking their cuticles, picking their nails, or twirling their hair. With their symptoms, women are much better at internalizing them. 

Anxiety in Women

Anxiety also manifests differently in women, and while a diagnosis may be easier than ADHD, it still is important to understand the symptom differences.

Physical Symptoms

Women suffering from anxiety are more likely to have headaches, bodily tension, and digestive troubles. Their physical symptoms may actually be more prominent than their emotional or psychological ones. 

Emotional Symptoms 

Women tend to be more emotional than men and are better at expressing those feelings. With anxiety, emotional outbursts and mood swings are more common. 

Are you or someone you know struggling with ADHD or anxiety? Contact us to learn more about how we can help you. 


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