How to recognise ADHD in women

In support of the NFWI’s campaign “Women and Girls with ASD & ADHD – under-identified, under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed, under-supported”, this month we invited Dr Bella Makdessi to speak to us to understand more about how ADHD in women is diagnosed.

According to the DSM-5 Criteria, “People with ADHD show a persistant pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes with functioning or development”

Credit: Dani Donovan

To define inattention there must be at least five of the following symptoms in adults and they need to have been happening for at least six months…

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes at work.
  • Has trouble holding attention on tasks.
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Does not follow through on instructions and failes to finish chores or duties in the workplace.
  • Has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to do tasks that require effort over a long time.
  • Loses things that they need for tasks and activities.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Forgetful in daily activities.
Credit: Dani Donovan

To define hyperactivity there must be at least five of the following symptoms in adults…

  • Fidgets with or taps hands or feed, or squirms in their seat.
  • Leaves their seat in situations when they are expected to remain seated.
  • Runs about in situations where it’s not appropriate.
  • Feels restless.
  • Unable to take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if they are “driven by a motor”.
  • Talks excessively.
  • Blurts out the answer before a question is finished.
  • Has trouble waiting their turn.
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g. butts into conversations)
Credit: Dani Donovan

In addition to those symptoms above, all of these conditions must be met…

  • Some of the above symptoms were present before 12 years of age.
  • The symptoms are present both at work and at home, or with friends and with relatives.
  • They clearly interfere with the quality of their social life or work.
  • There is not another mental disorder such as anxiety, dissociative or personality disorder that can explain the symptoms. The symptoms also don’t happen during schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

If you are interested in finding out if you, or someone you know might have some of these symptoms there is a you can use this ADHD self-screening tool.

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