ADHD in Women

“Women with Attention Deficit Disorder”

Overcoming challenges unique to women.

by Sari Solden
Underwood Books, $14.95
Purchase Women With Attention Deficit Disorder

Sari Solden’s Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embracing Disorganization at Home and in the Workplace was published in 1995. At the time, it was the first book to focus on the unique challenges faced by women with ADHD. The second edition, now bearing the subtitle Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life, highlights how much has changed over the past decade.

Women have long known that fluctuating hormones affect the way we feel. What we didn’t know 10 years ago is that estrogen affects the same neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine) that contribute to ADHD. Thus, when estrogen levels rise or drop with pregnancy, menopause, or PMS, ADHD symptoms appear to get better or worse. If you’d been wondering why your medication seems less effective at certain times of the month, Solden’s book will help you understand.

In the chapter titled “Are You Friendship-Challenged?” Solden addresses Dr. Thomas Brown’s recent “ADD Syndrome” theory, linking common relationship problems-and solutions-with impaired executive functioning. To overcome problems with memory, Solden recommends keeping a list of friends on your bulletin board or by the phone, so you’ll actually remember to call them or drop them a note. She also urges us to find our own ways to stay connected. Just because one of your friends invites you to a dinner party for 12 doesn’t mean you can’t reciprocate with an afternoon tea for two.

Solden, who has been a therapist for 16 years, makes her book highly readable by weaving in case studies of clients. And in this edition, she’s broken the material down with more subheadings, making it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. Both are good things when there’s so much useful information to be had.

Updated on March 28, 2018

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  1. Sari Solden’s first edition of “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” changed my life. I was 45 years old when I was finally diagnosed. After reading the book I pushed my psychiatrist to send me to someone for diagnostic tests. There was no question that I had it. I had somehow coped with it all those years, more or less effectively, and had managed to acquire a PhD.

    I never had any problem with reading. Reading was an escape from my chaotic life. I am pretty sure my dad [deceased 1976] had it. Among other things he was always starting projects he never finished. Including jobs. We moved about so much I went to 11 different schools before graduating high school, four of them in one year. Still, it was my dad who influenced my reading as he would read aloud to us children quite dramatically when we were too young to read ourselves, take us to the library every two weeks, and we had a thousand books in our home library before we had a television. I read books in philosophy and classical literature as a teenager because that’s what he read, and it was the only way I could get to know him as he rarely talked to us children. As a consequence I was well prepared for the abstract thinking required for my doctorate, and I excelled with a near 4.0 GPA.

    But I had developed ways of coping with my inability to remember much of what I read, except for broad outlines, by taking meticulous notes. I’d read a book or article and mark passages I thought were important. Then I’d go through and type out those passages as well as my marginal notes. Then I would study those notes over and over. I couldn’t understand why my cohorts had time to go out drinking and having fun in the evenings, which I would spend studying or at the library doing research.

    That was the 1980s and early 90s. The internet was still in its infancy when I completed my degree. Now I rely on it as my memory for names, dates, concepts, definitions of words, and even figuring out what word I’m trying to remember.

    For me, getting the diagnosis was a liberation. I did not have to see myself as the “ditzy, disorganized, flighty” person I’d been told I was, particularly by my first husband. I also could understand how my “hyper focus” periods affected my second marriage. My second husband felt ignored and invisible when so many times he would come to talk to me and I would be absorbed in whatever I was doing, and often didn’t notice he was in the room, and then when he asked for my attention I was unable to give it because my brain was on a fast-moving train I could not stop.

    I am so grateful for Solden’s first edition as it enabled me to see myself in an entirely different, more positive light. I look forward to reading the second, revised edition, to catch up with the new.

    I have written some articles on ADHD–calling it Attention Excess GIFT, identifying its postive aspects that few talk about. People can find my articles on Medium.com under the name Georgia NeSmith.

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