Over the years I have seen an increase in women coming to me with symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Many of them are concerned they may have ADHD and are looking for a solution. It got me thinking. Why are we seeing such an increase? What has changed to cause more women to experience symptoms of ADHD?
Our reality as women has changed. We are busier than ever before while still facing the pressures of traditional gender roles. We are still expected to take care of our homes and meals. Many women now have taken on professional careers outside of the home environment adding to the mounting pressure. We are worried more than ever—about everything. Not to mention we are constantly in a state of comparing ourselves to others with the rise of social media and smart devices. Those women who choose to stay home struggle with feeling stir crazy and unfulfilled. We are easily distracted.
All of the stress modern-day women are struggling with is causing them to lose sleep. They are staying up to later hours trying to get everything done. They are feeling the pressure to be the Pinterest mom or the perfect housewife/cook but also the career woman. Research shows that lack of sleep could be exactly what is contributing to symptoms of ADHD.
The disruption of day and night rhythms, staying up later, eating at different times, variations in body temperature and physical movement, all of it can contribute to inattentiveness and challenging behavior, according to research done at the Vrije Universitiet Medical Centre in Amsterdam. This research also showed that people with ADHD had a rise in the hormone melatonin an hour-and-a-half later in the day than those who did not, contributing to that lack of sleep. All of this pointing to the reality that ADHD might actually be a sleep disorder.
Similar studies have also found that those with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than those without, making it harder to focus. Other symptoms such as restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement are also common in those suffering from ADHD, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
The bottom line is we are overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted. We aren’t sleeping as much and therefore we are finding it difficult to focus. If you are someone who is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, it may be helpful to seek out a licensed professional who is trained in helping adults.
On the outside looking in, many would assume that ADHD and Perfectionism would be polar opposites. Where ADHD is a disorder that deals with hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and difficulty with focusing, Perfectionism is most commonly associated with requiring a high level of attention to details. However, despite their perceived differences, there is a strong relationship between having ADHD and being a perfectionist that many may not realize.
According to Mabel Yiu:
- Perfectionist behavior can develop in someone with ADHD as a means to cope with previously perceived failures in your life.
- Perfectionist behavior can also develop in someone with ADHD as means to not be judged for their ADHD diagnosis.
- ADHD Perfectionism can greatly affect women, men, and children in how they function in their daily lives and relationships.
- Commonly diagnosed amongst school-aged children and is often a behavior that continues into adulthood.
- Perfectionism in people with ADHD can lead to feelings of needing to overcompensate. People with ADHD are often told to “try harder”, without fully understanding the underlying conditions of the disorder. A perfectionist with ADHD will constantly feel the need to prove their worth in order to be seen as “trying harder” as requested.
- The inability to properly focus on a task the first time due to ADHD can lead to perfectionist behavior that forces the person to harp on the next task until it’s right.
- Attempts at attaining unrealistic expectations set forth by perfectionist behavior can cause a person with ADHD to devote too much time to a specific task or project. This in turn affects time management skills and can develop into anxiety.
- Some people who only have ADHD are already prone to developing anxiety disorders over missing important details or fear of mismanaging their life. When perfectionism is applied, the anxiety is multiplied.
- Perfectionists with ADHD use perfection as a means to measure their own value, both from internal and external pressures.
- ADHD Perfectionists are harder on themselves for making mistakes and take the notion of imperfection to heart.
- Sharing feelings for an ADHD Perfectionist is hard and often unwelcomed. Showing more signs of vulnerability is not ideal.
- Though perfectionism is not always bad, the shared relationship between ADHD and perfectionism tends to be more maladaptive in nature. This means the results of the disorders coming together typically create unhealthy behaviors and perspectives.
- Perfectionists have maladaptive coping strategies that force them into a mild degree of disassociation. The inattentiveness that is presented can mimic ADHD.
- ADHD and Perfectionism are in a constant battle with one another. Perfectionist behavior can force someone with ADHD to feel the need to “make up for lost time” that occurs when they lose focus on a task.
- ADHD Perfectionists need help setting realistic perspectives on accomplishing tasks and personal behaviors.
- Helping people with ADHD and Perfectionism cope with their behaviors is about teaching how to accept natural flaws, prioritization, and accepting mistakes.
- Positive reassurance is the most effective method.