ADHD Symptoms in Men Manifest Differently
“Men with ADHD are more prone to emotional outbursts fueled by anger at real or perceived slights.”
As a 62-year-old man with ADHD, I can get emotional quickly and often about relatively insignificant things. I can be immature and irresponsible. For years, I have felt embarrassment and shame about the lack of progress in my career. I also have learned that these characteristics, among others, are more pronounced in many men with ADHD than they are in their female and neurotypical counterparts.
Much has been written, deservedly, about the unique challenges facing women with ADHD. But, arguably, not as much has been written about how men experience ADHD differently. Sure, most of us know that hyperactive boys are more likely to be diagnosed than are inattentive girls. However, the people in our lives really need to understand the differences men with ADHD experience.
Here are examples of how I think ADHD manifests differently in the sexes.
Common ADHD Symptoms in Men
Delayed emotional development. Research has shown that males mature more slowly than do females, and this seems especially true for men with ADHD.
Being quick to anger. While girls tend to internalize emotions, boys are more likely to externalize theirs. It stands to reason, then, that boys with ADHD have higher rates of oppositional defiant disorder (being argumentative, uncooperative, and sometimes hostile). In adulthood, men with ADHD are more prone to emotional outbursts fueled by anger at real or perceived slights.
Resistance to pursuing a diagnosis. In my many years of ADHD coaching, I’ve encountered countless women who struggle with their husband’s or young adult son’s resistance to seek or accept an ADHD diagnosis because they fear the “stigma” of the disorder, and, in their male minds, it’s admitting to “weakness.” Unsurprisingly, most of my female social media followers are the ones who most actively pursue understanding ADHD on behalf of their husbands, their kids, and themselves.
[Take This Test: Could You Have Adult ADHD?]
Lackluster career advancement. This issue for men arises, in part, from the social construct that still expects men to be the head of the household, the main breadwinner. When a man with ADHD is unable to perform optimally in or successfully retain his job (as was the case for me for many years), the shame and guilt can be devastating.
Think about how often new social interactions begin with, “So, what do you do for a living?” In other words, what is your value? And when you’re not proud of what you do, or how well you’re doing it, you feel shame and embarrassment.
How Men Can Manage ADHD Symptoms
Men with ADHD need a safe place to share their struggles, like a support group with people who share similar challenges. Feeling heard, and learning new ideas for how to cope, can be very comforting.
Mindfulness training and exercise can help with mood stabilization and rein in emotions. I also recommend working with your partner, and perhaps a therapist, on communication strategies to control outbursts before they happen.
I’ve found that understanding common ADHD symptoms in men and working on managing them has helped me become more effective in my life as an adult with ADHD.
ADHD Symptoms in Men: Next Steps
- Read: Men with ADHD Are Asking, “Why Am I So Angry?”
- Blog: “I’m a Better Father, Now a Better Person”
- Download: Emotional Regulation & Anger Management Scripts
Alan P. Brown is an ADHD coach and host of CrusherTV. His free eBook, 5 Things You’re Doing Every Day That Make Your ADHD Worse, is available at www.ADDCrusher.com.
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