The Relationship Between Adhd and Generalized Anxiety ( GAD) in Women

Recently we've learned that generalized anxiety is 5x more common in adhd women. Let's take a look at this relationship.

1. The Impact of Late Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis
ADHD in women is often diagnosed late or misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety. This misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatments, causing ADHD symptoms to persist and exacerbate anxiety. Women deserve early diagnosis. 

adhd and stress in women

2. Masking ADHD and Resulting Stress
Many women with ADHD learn to mask their symptoms to fit in, which can be mentally and emotionally draining. This persistent effort to hide ADHD symptoms often heightens stress and worsens or causes anxiety. Women deserve to live in a world where they aren't encouraged to mask their true selves. 

Cognitive Stress and ADHD

3. Challenges in Problem-Solving Due to Executive Functioning Issues
ADHD can affect executive functions, making it difficult for women to solve problems effectively. This often results in chronic worry and heightened anxiety, as the ability to evaluate situations, consider solutions, and make decisions is impaired. This exacerbates and fuels generalized anxiety disorder. When women are allowed to live more balanced and have their stregnths known and fostered this is less likely to happen.

4. Lack of Self-Trust and Increased Anxious Apprehension
Women with ADHD often struggle with self-doubt, leading to a lack of trust in their abilities and decisions. This often results from living a world where they are constantly asked to do things that are unfriendly for their brain, or  to do things unsupported and unaccommodated.

This self-doubt, paired with ADHD symptoms, can fuel anxious apprehension, a constant state of worry and preparation for negative outcomes known to be present in Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

6. Flight Response and Avoidance Maintaining Anxiety

When feeling overwhelmed, women with Adhd may exhibit a 'flight' response, a part of the stress cycle known as the fight-flight-freeze response. This often leads to avoidance behaviors, which, while providing temporary relief, maintain and exacerbate anxiety in the long run. Many Adhd peopel live ina chronically overwhelmed state, and their bodies suffer as a result of this.

The fight-flight-freeze response is an automatic physiological reaction to perceived threats or stressors. 'Fight' involves confronting the threat, 'flight' involves escaping the threat, and 'freeze' involves becoming immobile or hiding from the threat. These responses can be triggered by everyday challenges for women with ADHD, leading to persistent anxiety. These activations take a toll on the body of women and also can be percieved as a "keyed up" or tense feelings part of the criteria for GAD.

8. The Role of Emotional Regulation

Women with ADHD are often prone to intense emotional reactions. These overwhelming feelings, coupled with the stress of managing Adhd, can lead to excessive worrying and exacerbate anxiety. This often results in feelings of anxiety in the body a key part of GAD.

Thankfully, when you get proper diagnosis, and begin to support yourself apporpriately, your anxiety should  decrease.

Medication, self care, self compassion, self accommodation, and self advocacy all go a long way in helping you with your anxiety.

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Barlow, D.H.(2002) Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic(2cd ed.): New York: Guilford Press

EIfert,G. and Forsyth J.(2005)Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders.Oakland, CA:New Habringer Publications, Inc.

Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.


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