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ADHD -- Not Just for Boys

Girls Get ADHD, Too


Children with the disorder may fidget, squirm in their seat, walk around the classroom, jump and run at inappropriate times, and talk too much. Adults who have it may feel restless, be unable to take part in quiet activities, have a hard time waiting their turn, or intrude on others, Nadeau says.

Adults may also have problems concentrating on what they're doing for any length of time, she adds. They may make careless mistakes. Their work is frequently sloppy or careless, and they may jump from one activity to another. They are easily distracted and forgetful.

Having an attention disorder is hard enough, but being a woman makes it even harder, Nadeau says. "Being a homemaker and mother is an ADHD job from hell." Too little structure, too many interruptions, and a seemingly endless list of tasks can lead a woman with the condition to feel her daily life is out of control. Fluctuating hormones only make the problem worse.

This is in addition to medications commonly prescribed for the disorder, such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Cylert. [Note: In March 2005, the manufacturer of Cylert, Abbot Laboratories, discontinued this drug due to declining sales.]

Medication may be helpful but it is not a cure-all. If you do have an attention disorder, two lifestyle changes are essential, says Nadeau: Lower your stress and increase your structure. "When stress levels go up, ADHD symptoms shoot up like a Geiger counter."

The first step in managing your disorder is to conduct a stress assessment of your life. How many hours do you spend at work? How long is your commute? How deep in debt are you? How overcommitted are you?

"Analyze the sources of your stress and then see what you can do to reduce them," Nadeau advises.

And make sure you get plenty of sleep. For women with the condition, that's almost never the case.

Nadeau says it's also important to create an attention-disorder-friendly environment for yourself and your family by:

  • Establishing schedules -- for dinner, for homework, for bedtime.
  • Keeping detailed calendars.
  • Writing reminder notes and leaving them where you can see them.
  • Blocking out distractions by turning off the television and the computer, taking the phone off the hook, shutting the door, and concentrating on one thing at a time.

If you suspect you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Dr. Nadeau suggests taking the ADHD Self-Rating Scale for women on the ADDvance Magazine Web site ( If the answers indicate you do have the disorder, take the survey and results to a psychologist or even a pediatrician who specializes in the condition and who may be able to suggest medication and lifestyle changes.

Reviewed on April 06, 2005

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