When you think of someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you may picture a rambunctious child in a classroom. But there are many other ways it can look, especially in adults and especially in women. And because of the stereotype of someone with ADHD, many people may not realize they have it and may attribute their symptoms to a different condition or, worse, a moral shortcoming.
“Women tend to be under-diagnosed with ADHD because boys tend to display more of the external hyperactivity symptoms that alert teachers and parents to ADHD. This can leave a lot of women frustrated and misdiagnosed,” Dr. Charlynn Ruan, Ph.D., Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist and founder of Thrive Psychology, tells Bustle. “Women who don’t know they have ADHD may just have a sense that something is wrong with them but not know what. They may label themselves as lazy, crazy, or undisciplined. There can be a lot of shame that creeps in over the years from feeling like you are different. Women in particular are expected to be studious, disciplined, and reserved, which can be challenging with ADHD.”