Empowering the Freelance Economy

Could you be a freelancer with undiagnosed ADHD?

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What are the behaviour patterns of ADHD in adulthood? Would you be able to spot them? Here we look at the gender-shared and gender-specific signs of ADHD. We also share expert tips and resources to help you overcome any behaviours that might be holding you back as a freelancer and embrace those that could make you invaluable

Many people have a small amount of knowledge of the neurodevelopmental disorder attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may have heard or read somewhere that it can cause difficulty with attention, hyperactivity, and impulse control. It’s often diagnosed in childhood, but it can also go undetected into adulthood.

What is not commonly known is that females and males with ADHD exhibit some shared but also very different behaviours and as such should be diagnosed and treated appropriately.

“We’re kind of catching up now,” says Patricia Quinn, MD, pointing out that in the past men received an ADHD diagnosis ten times more often than women. Dr. Quinn is a researcher and author on the effects of ADHD symptoms in the lives of women and girls.

A study released through the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report confirmed this trend.

Treatment for anyone with ADHD could mean simply having tips and tools at your disposal to divert or quiet down common ADHD behaviours or thought patterns that could be holding you back or causing you unnecessary panic.

The good thing is there is a growing community of ADHD experts and therapists and people with ADHD who are now sharing their experiences and tips. What is also reassuring is knowing that many successful people now and in history have been extremely successful despite or because of their ADHD. From US presidents to inventors to comedians.

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D. is a board-certified child and adult psychiatrist and world authority on ADHD. His NedTalks videos offer free tips and advice. Photo credit Rayon Richards

Freelancing with ADHD

Freelancing can be a great career option for people with ADHD. It offers flexibility and autonomy. However, it can also be challenging, as it requires self-motivation and managing time and tasks effectively.

People with ADHD often have difficulty staying focused on tasks, especially when they are not interested in the work, according to Dr. Russell Barkley, a leading expert on ADHD. They may also have difficulty managing their time effectively and meeting deadlines, which is something that could be more challenging for freelancers with ADHD.

A freelancer with ADHD may also be more likely to procrastinate and take on too much work. They may also have trouble delegating tasks and asking for help.

However, freelancers with ADHD can also be incredibly creative and productive. People with ADHD often have a unique ability to see the big picture and come up with innovative solutions to problems, according to Dr. Timothy Wilens, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and author of several books on ADHD.

While ADHD is commonly thought of as a disorder that primarily affects boys, women are also diagnosed with ADHD at a significant rate. However, women with ADHD often experience symptoms differently than men. We highlight the differences. But we also turn to Dr. Ned Hallowell for some tips that crossover for most people with ADHD regardless of gender.

If you are a MALE and you think you might have ADHD, here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you have difficulty staying focused on tasks? Do you find yourself easily distracted by things like noise, movement, or your own thoughts?
  • Do you fidget or squirm a lot? Do you feel restless or have trouble sitting still for long periods of time?
  • Do you have trouble controlling your impulses? Do you find yourself saying or doing things without thinking?
  • Are you disorganised or forgetful? Do you have trouble keeping track of things like appointments, deadlines, or belongings?
  • Do you have trouble managing your time effectively? Do you often find yourself rushing to meet deadlines or working on multiple projects at once?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, it is possible that you have ADHD. However, ADHD is a complex disorder and so is every individual; there is no one-size-fits-all diagnosis. If you are concerned that you might have ADHD, it is important to talk to a doctor or psychologist for a professional evaluation.

Here are some of the ways that FEMALES with ADHD may experience symptoms differently than men:

  • Women are more likely to experience inattentive symptoms than hyperactivity-impulsive symptoms. This means that they may be more likely to have difficulty paying attention, staying organised, and following through on tasks.
  • Women are also more likely to experience emotional dysregulation than men. This means that they may be more likely to experience mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
  • Women with ADHD may also be more likely to have comorbid conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

What can women with ADHD do about it?

  • Find a therapist who specialises in ADHD in women. This will help you get the most effective treatment for your individual needs. Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, a psychologist and author of the book “Driven to Distraction says this is one of the best routes to take to make effective change and progress.
  • Join a support group for women with ADHD. This can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you are going through.
  • Learn about ADHD and how it affects women. This will help you better understand your symptoms and how to manage them.
  • Don’t give up. ADHD can be a challenging disorder, but it is manageable. With the right treatment and support, you can live a successful and fulfilling life.

People, notably women, with ADHD are often very creative and intelligent, but they may also struggle with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues, according to Dr. Ned Hallowell, a psychiatrist and author of several books on ADHD.

Dr. Melissa Orlov, a psychologist and author of the book “The Gift of ADHD in Girls” says another behaviour trait of women with ADHD is they tend to put the needs of others before their own, which can lead to burnout and frustration. While some would argue many parents of young children and mothers especially fall into this camp, this could be impacting a freelancer with ADHD more than most.

In the video below Dr Hallowell offers some tips on how people with ADHD can turn off the flow of negative thoughts just by doing a simple activity like frying an egg. He also explains in another video the double-edged sword that people with ADHD must bear and that’s hypersensitivity to other people’s feelings. His other videos can be found here on TikTok.

Here are some tips for freelancers with ADHD:

  • Find a niche that interests you and that you are passionate about. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your work.
  • Set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself. Break down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. When people with ADHD procrastinate it can create unwelcome chemical reactions in the body similar to panicking.
  • Use tools and strategies to help you stay organised and on track. This could include things like to-do lists, calendars, and project management software.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. Get up and move around, or take a few minutes to meditate or do some deep breathing exercises.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to fellow freelancers and ADHD communities for support and useful tips and tools they have used that work.

Freelancing with ADHD can be challenging, but it is also advantageous. By following these tips, you can learn to manage your symptoms and create a successful freelance career by embracing what makes you unique rather than fighting it.

Here are some resources and therapy networks you may find useful

Adult Online Therapy Service – ADHD Foundation : ADHD Foundation

Therapists specialising in ADHD within 100 miles of your current location | BACP

https://drhallowell.com/watch/ned-talks/ and Podcast – Dr. Hallowell (drhallowell.com)

ADHD Couples’ Stories | ADHD and Marriage (adhdmarriage.com)

ADHD News-Adults – CHADD

adhd-facts.pdf (russellbarkley.org)

8 Successful People With ADHD You Should Know About (uopeople.edu)

Counselling for ADHD – Counselling Directory (counselling-directory.org.uk)

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