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Hyperactivity in Women: 9 Stories of Overlooked ADHD Energy

Women with hyperactive ADHD experience intense symptoms of racing thoughts, unfocused energy, and impatient fidgeting. But hyperactivity is often ignored or misdiagnosed in women. Read their stories here.

Woman with hyperactive ADHD, fidgeting, biting lip, twirling hair

A rush of energy, frenetic action, and then a crash — the hyperactive ADHD cycle. Though more commonly associated with the inattentive subtype, women do experience ADHD hyperactivity — as well as related stereotypes and sexism. Here, ADDitude readers tell us their stories as women with ADHD hyperactivity, from rush to crash.

“Growing up, being undiagnosed in the ‘70s meant I learned to fidget in place. Getting up and moving wasn’t allowed. Disrupting a meeting wasn’t allowed. People say I’m not hyperactive, but if they watch me for five minutes they’ll see my feet wiggling or bouncing, my hands fiddling with something, and me changing positions constantly. I cannot be still. Ever. It’s exhausting sometimes.” — An ADDitude Reader

“As a child, my symptoms were talking loud, talking a lot, coming alive at night, and needing very little rest. At about 18, my ADHD turned inward and now it feels like this constant knot in my stomach, like I have stage fright every day. I still talk loud, and a lot, but I need a lot of rest these days.” — Emma, Australia

“The activity in my head is constant, so my body jumps from one task to another, adding more tasks to the list as I go. As I’ve gotten older, I force myself to sit down in the evenings with my husband and watch television. When he’s not around, I continue on doing — keeping busy until I drop at bedtime. Then I’m dead to the world and nothing can wake me.” — Anna, Ireland

“As a child the hyperactivity manifested mostly through impatience, the inability to sit still, and fidgeting with everything around me. I often had this ‘excited’ type of feeling inside my chest. I just couldn’t contain it and it was impossible to not move. Once I transitioned to adulthood, the hyperactivity definitely got more subtle. At times, I still have that excited feeling in my chest that forces me to abruptly walk away mid-conversation.” — An ADDitude Reader

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“ADHD feels like energy. It affects my mind, thoughts, actions, and activity level all at once. It has urgency and makes me feel anxious. I need to do things right away. It is sporadic and unorganized at the same time. I’ve always had a very active mind, and I am easily excitable. I need to do things very quickly, in bursts. The energy will fade out once I’ve hit a wall or have to go to bed. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to sleep.” — Amy, North Carolina

“For me, hyperactivity impacts both my actions and thoughts. The morning can be a double-edged sword because I have boundless energy and intentions to get everything done, but I find it hard to settle myself down to do the things that have to be done. Much of the time that causes anxiety.” — Toni, Canada

“My hyperactivity feels like I had too much caffeine — racing heart, alertness, and an inability to say no when presented with any opportunity. I feel like I just have this internal tank that never runs out of gas. I am constantly needing to go somewhere or do something.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I want to sprint. I want to do all the things and so I do. I chat. I worry. I run. I smash out a boxing bag. I take on too much, which helps me keep all the balls in the air until I drop them all at once and need a holiday.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I was extremely hyperactive as both a child and an adult. A brain injury stopped much of my physical activity for years, and my hyperactivity became much more mental after that — I have a mind that literally never shuts off. I need to do something like reading or crosswords even while watching a TV show. Doing two things at once is a necessity.” — An ADDitude Reader

ADHD Hyperactivity in Women: Next Steps


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