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
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
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 (www.ADDvance.com). 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.