adhd and shame

What is the relationship between ADHD and  Shame Feelings?


adhd and shame

ADHD and Shame feel inseparable. Throughout history, society has used shame to enforce expected behaviors. With ADHD, these societal beliefs are influenced by the media, religious beliefs ⛪, and cultural values. For instance, women with ADHD can be criticized for showing strong emotions like anger, clashing with the typical expectation of women as calm and nurturing.

Shaming is what causes shame in adhd women. 

How does Shame Impact the Lives of ADHD Women?

Shame isn't just about our actions but how others perceive and judge us. These feelings can intensify ADHD difficulties, making managing emotions, staying focused, or thinking before acting harder. People with ADHD often feel even more shame when compared to those without ADHD.

The Shame Spiral in Women with ADHD

The "shame spiral" describes a cycle where feelings of shame lead to negative self-perceptions, which then intensify the original feelings of shame. This self-feeding loop can drive deeper feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, and isolation. It can influence behavior, decision-making, and emotional well-being as it deepens. 


adhd and shame 2

How can People with ADHD cope?

  1. Find shame in your body. Shame doesn't just impact the mind. It can manifest physically, with symptoms like a racing heart, tightness in the chest, or stomach upset. These physical responses are the body's way of reacting to a perceived threat – in this case, the emotional threat of shame. It can also just feel like a sinking feeling or even make you nauseous. What does it feel like for you?
  2.  Name it to Tame it. It can be hard to pin shame down. Often, my clients describe it as embarrassment, inadequacy, failure, guilt, or humiliation. But really, the closer you can get to naming it SHAME. To manage difficult situations and reduce the impact of shame, try using the "name it to tame it" coping skill.
  3. Tell someone you Trust.  Acknowledge the situation and share it with someone else to lessen its intensity.

How can family members and friends support women with this?❤️

In girlhood, women with ADHD often experienced shame with peers, leading to feelings of isolation.

In adulthood, loved ones might unknowingly intensify these feelings. Deep-rooted shame can hinder communication in relationships.

Women with ADHD might avoid sharing feelings due to fear of misunderstanding or rejection. If you love someone with Adhd it's essential to be aware of how common ADHD and shame travel together.

Understanding how someone reacts to shame can offer deeper insight into their emotions and behaviors. Here are four common patterns to recognize:

  1. Withdrawal: Pulling away emotionally or physically from situations or people that evoke feelings of shame.
  2. Attack Self: Engaging in negative self-talk or blaming oneself when faced with shame.
  3. Avoidance: Denying or minimizing the feelings of shame, or using distractions not to confront the emotion.
  4. Attack Others: Redirecting the shame onto someone else, often through blame or criticism.

Seeing your loved one's behaviors as a reflection of shame and not personalize them can be of tremendous assistance.


Strategies to Handle Shame for Women with ADHD

It is crucial to recognize early signs of shame due to its link with physical and mental stress. Some coping strategies include:

  • Self-awareness: Recognize moments triggering feelings of shame, like missed appointments ❌.
  • Mindfulness: Identify and manage automatic reactions to shame.
  • Support groups: Connect with others who understand ADHD challenges.


Therapy can be helpful, but it's essential to note that traditional methods like CBT might not always address the depth and nuances of shame, especially its physical manifestations. Seeking therapists familiar with the body-mind connection and alternative therapeutic approaches can be beneficial.

Becoming Resilient: Accepting ADHD and Rejecting Shame

Shame is common but notably potent in women with ADHD. Understanding and accepting one's ADHD can lead to empowerment. Advocating for oneself and appreciating brain diversity helps women with ADHD lead fulfilling lives without societal prejudice.

Read more about adhd and shame


By admin