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If you often ask “why can’t I follow simple instructions?” it may be helpful to know that ADHD is one of the most common reasons for this challenge.
ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to concentrate on a single task for an extended period of time. Although signs and symptoms vary, some of the typical diagnostic traits remain the same and can help explain why following simple instructions could be a challenge.
ADHD Causes and Types
So far, ADHD has been declared as a developmental impairment. It is supposed to be related to the executive functions of the brain. It alters a person’s ability to control their impulse and focus on a task, like a list of instructions on the back of a puzzle box.
Even though the exact cause of ADHD has yet not been found, several researchers have suggested the genetic and hereditary background behind the impairment. Currently, scientists are trying to find the relationship between dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter, and ADHD. Some studies have suggested that toxins and chemicals may also be a risk factor or contributor to a child being born with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
There are three basic subtypes of ADHD:
- Primarily hyperactive-impulsive type
- Primarily inattentive type
- Primarily combined type.
These types are more often considered as different variations of symptoms shown by patients of ADHD.
What Does ADHD Look Like?
Even though signs and symptoms vary from person to person, some of the typical diagnostic traits remain the same and can help explain the question “Why can’t I follow simple instructions?”. Common symptoms of ADHD include:
- lack of concentration
- exaggerated responses and emotions
- hyperactivity and
- a decreased ability to manage time
Other more specific signs include failure of paying close attention to details, not listening to what the other person is saying, not being able to follow simple instructions, difficulty in organizing and assembling items and tasks, avoiding activities that require consistent mental attention, losing essential items very often, forgetting the simplest of everyday tasks and being distracted by minimum stimuli. A patient with ADHD will not be able to pay attention to a single job for longer than a certain amount of time.
How and Why Is It Different for Women?
Unlike men, women have different intensities of ADHD during different phases of their life. This is because the hormonal cycle of a woman has much more variation than a man’s.
Female children who have been diagnosed with ADHD grow up with managed symptoms until they hit puberty. The new phase in their life brings a huge change in their hormonal levels which aggravates the symptoms of the behavioral impairment.
Surging hormones during puberty can even decrease the effectiveness of their current ADHD medications. Studies have shown that a woman’s ADHD symptoms will get worse a week or two before she starts to menstruate. This is also a prevalent reason why women are not properly diagnosed with ADHD until they are 30 to 40 years old. Before that, their symptoms are misinterpreted as mood swings and PMS.
Similarly, pregnancy and postpartum phases of a woman’s life have different effects on her ADHD, as well. Thus, it is important that constant monitoring of her symptoms and medications is done. Medications that work in a certain phase and situation might not be effective in others. Other than that, oral contraceptives and emotional stress also have an impact on their ADHD symptoms.
Impact of ADHD In Women
According to recent researches and studies, it has been proved that underlying ADHD can affect a woman’s life cycle in various ways. If you are a woman who often asks “why can’t I follow simple instructions?”, it could be time t give ADHD a closer look if you aren’t already diagnosed.
In June 2010, Roberta Waite EdD published a study that concluded that many women struggled to live with an undiagnosed or misinterpreted attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This fact meant that the woman had to hide or ignore her symptoms leading to a lack of proper treatment and unmanaged impairments. She concluded that not only did this disturb her personal life, but it also had an impact on her psychological, academic, occupational, and social life. She suggested that proper diagnosis should be ensured so that women can be properly diagnosed and their recovery can be made successful.
Similarly, in another study conducted earlier in 2005, Patricia O. Quinn published her research on adolescent girls and women who have ADHD. She also stated that it was a “hidden disorder” among the female gender and that coexisting disorders and issues often hide away the real signs of concern. She suggests that gender-sensitive diagnosis and treatment should be introduced and implemented.
Such coexistent disorders include binge eating and severe obesity. In 2012, Bruno Palazzo Nazar conducted a study on the connection between ADHD and obese women. The results concluded that behavioral impairment was indeed a risk factor that worsened the eating habits of an obese female individual and further stimulated binge eating.
Treatment Options and Management Remedies
Each phase, intensity, and the individual requires their own medicinal therapy.
Pharmacological medications should never be taken without a prescription. However, certain behavioral remedies have proven to be effective and help manage the symptoms of ADHD.
Isolation and emotional withdrawal because of the decreasing self-esteem and shuttering self-confidence can be a huge psychological side effect of the impairment.
Along with pharmacological help, emotional therapy is also essential to make sure the woman is psychologically healthy. This therapy includes strategies that help women become more socially active.
- Make the first move with minimal text.
- Utilize the technology and set reminders on your phone and laptops. Plan social gatherings and outings with as many people as you like and set alarms to remind you of the particular date and place so that you don’t miss it.
- Remember to not let yourself snooze the alarm. Make it a habit to address the task as soon as your reminder goes off. Be more open about your symptoms if you think that other people will not understand try to be more communicative with other patients of ADHD.
- If you are making plans with your friends remember to say yes to what you are really interested in. Being genuinely excited about a plan gives you more chances of remembering it and focusing on it. Choose the activity place and company of your choice. Make sure you are looking forward to it and are comfortable with the thought of going out.
“Why can’t I follow simple instructions?” You are not alone.
Many women have spent their lives living with ADHD and are now serving as inspirations and motivators for other females going through the same thing.
Gabrielle Moss, an editor and freelance writer, said that she was diagnosed in her late twenties and was very confused about her concentration difficulties at that point. She said that her therapist and psychiatrist helped her realize what her problem was and get a proper diagnosis. Afterward, she started taking her proper medication and now feels much better. She says that younger girls who are going through the same thing should not listen to the criticism and judgments of other people. She said that it damages their self-confidence.
Stephanie Jackson is a TV professional underwriter she was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 16. She says that her symptoms very bad before that, and as soon as she got a proper diagnosis and treatment, her academic life improved quickly. She advises younger girls with ADHD not to hide their symptoms and be more communicative about them to their loved ones.
Similarly, another ADHD survivor Mariel Henkoff had a struggling childhood trying to figure out what was wrong with her and why she could not follow simple instructions. She questioned why she was different from her other class fellows and took longer to learn. Mariel says that finding the answers to these questions helped her become more peaceful with her impairment. She said that proper diagnosis could help a person become more self-aware, and it helps you take care of yourself.
Resources: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jclp.20121, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1087054710361586, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10862-011-9247-4, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1087054712455503, https://www.additudemag.com/