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Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life

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Every year, millions of withdrawn little girls and chronically overwhelmed women go undiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder because they don't fit the stereotypical they’re not fast-talking, hyperactive, or inattentive, and they are not male. Sari Solden’s groundbreaking study reveals that ADD affects just as many women as men, and that the resulting depression, disorganization, anxiety, and underachievement are also symptoms of ADD. Newly revised and updated to reflect the latest clinical research, the book explores treatment and counseling options, and uses real-life case histories to examine the special challenges women with ADD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) face, such as the shame of not fulfilling societal expectations. Included is a brand new chapter on friendship for women with ADHD. Three empowering steps — restructuring one's life, renegotiating relationships, and redefining self-image — help women take control of their lives and enjoy success on their own terms.

304 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1995

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About the author

Sari Solden

11 books125 followers
Sari Solden, M.S, is a psychotherapist who has counseled adults with ADHD for 30 years. She is the author of Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, Journeys Through ADDulthood, and co-author of A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD (July 2019). She serves on the professional advisory board of ADDA and was received their award for outstanding service by a helping professional. Her areas of specialization include women's issues, inattentive ADHD, and the emotional consequences and healing process for adults who grew up with undiagnosed ADHD. She is a prominent keynote speaker on these subjects nationally and internationally.

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5 stars
722 (47%)
4 stars
524 (34%)
3 stars
225 (14%)
2 stars
47 (3%)
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13 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 157 reviews
Profile Image for Melinda.
13 reviews
March 21, 2013
This book has changed my life. If you are a woman, or know a woman who has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, read this book!
I think it is especially important for women like me. I had a lifetime of dealing with issues, beating myself up, & feeling frustrated. This is not uncommon, because most women as young girls don't exibit obvious symptoms. I made good grades & didn't cause trouble. I was the daydreamer in class, unless it was a class I liked. I was a pleaser, who worked extra hard. We learn how to compensate & hide our struggles. I was 37 when I was diagnosed. I read a little about ADHD, I was given medication, then decided I didn't need that & continued to struggle for years. I could not see how this medical issue impacted my life & those around me. This book has been a huge eye opener. What I really appreciate are the tools, strategies, & resources offered. This is not just a book that describes the symptoms, but offers impressive ways to live your life in a better way. It talks about the shame you feel when you just don't measure up. How hard you have to work to be preceived as "normal". What happens when you hit a wall, & things start to fall apart. Instead of beating yourself up for your issues, you begin to see how your struggles are a part of you, just like your strengths. You learn to communicate with others about what your needs are & ask for help in a non apologetic way. You are finally able to celebrate all of who you are.
Profile Image for Marley.
79 reviews7 followers
September 29, 2012
This book was very helpful and totally nailed me. I've known for years that I had "something a bit like A.D.D." but always assumed that my low energy levels proved that I didn't have a disorder often referred to interchangeably as "hyperactivity". I was surprised to learn that the sluggish feelings and the inability to put thoughts into action are actually a symptom of one kind of Attention Deficit Disorder.

I read the original version, which is possibly the only reason I'm giving this 4-stars instead of 5. If I can get my hands on a new copy, I may upgrade my review. The book is occasionally very dated when it refers to sources of help. The author mentions a CompuServe support group and not a single web site. She also talks about email as a tool for getting work done while avoiding distractions like the telephone without acknowledging the distraction that the computer itself has now become. (Does anyone else have close to 200 unread emails in their inbox?) And sadly the support group organization that she lists as a great place for in-person meetings disbanded in my city two years ago due to -- no joke -- the organizers being overwhelmed by keeping up with the work of running it.

The original printing also has a comical amount of editing errors. You know how you start to type one thing and change your mind mid-sentence and type something else and you think you've re-worded the sentence to make sense, but in reality you've inadvertently left a stray word in the middle of the sentence that doesn't belong there? You'll find those sorts of errors throughout the first edition of the book, which is almost adorable when you know the author herself has Attention Deficit Disorder.

What I appreciate most about this book is that it is genuinely filled with content and not fluff. I've found that most self-help books are about a pamphlet's worth of good information padded out to book size through the use of large fonts, extra spacing, and a lot of meaningless blather. This book really had a lot to say. There were diagrams and case studies, but they didn't take over the book. The author also does not pretend the solution is easy. I might wish that the book ended with a promise that "If you just do X, then you will be cured," but I respect that the author didn't try to sell a magic system that will make it all better.

Personally, the biggest thing I got out of this book was the validation that the coping mechanisms that I had already figured out years ago even without a diagnosis really are necessary and feel better able to stand up to friends who "helpfully" point out that my coping mechanisms are unnecessary. ("If you just tried harder, you wouldn't need to do that.") I've always felt guilty about being a "party pooper" because I can't stand to be in a room with multiple conversations going on at the same time. I also passively accepted a lot of the "toxic help" like the kind the author warns you about because I let people convince me that I deserved the condescending lecture about having made such a mess of things. I've always felt guilty about "wasting" money on a professional service when I "could" have done it myself for free.

If you think you might have A.D.D. and have had trouble finding a source for the non-hyperactive version of it, I highly recommend this book (even if you can only get the outdated version).
Profile Image for Angie.
Author 1 book
November 29, 2008
As I was reading this book I thought, "Oh my gosh, my WHOLE LIFE makes sense now!" No wonder I'm a disorganized librarian---I have adult ADD! I'm being treated for ADD now with medicine and I can't believe what a difference it is making!
Profile Image for Jessica.
17 reviews
August 21, 2014
It was okay. Very informative in the beginning about the common misconceptions about what ADHD is and how it often goes undiagnosed in women because it often shows up as internal inattention but not external hyperactivity - aka daydreamers.

But the rest of the book? I kept reading because I thought I would find hope. Instead I felt more hopeless about having ADD than I ever have before in my life. Acknowledging all my flaws didn't help me: it made me angrier at my current situation and feel victimized by my past. I'd re-name this book, "How to Feel Sorry for Yourself to the Utmost Degree."

On top of everything, the only solutions Solden seems to really propose are medication, therapy, getting a more prestigious job so you can pay little people to do all that work that you aren't suited for because you have ADHD, and making sure your family adjusts to your newfound identity and caters to your every need. I can't afford therapy or medication, a person doesn't just magically move up to a higher position in their field or make tons of money (or live off their husband's income and figure it out from there, this is the 21st century, Solden!!) - and no, by no means am I just going to demand that the people I live with and am close to change everything about our dynamics since I am SO DISABLED with SUCH A DISABILITY.

You know what? I am fine. I am fine without this book and I am fine without this label of ADHD. I am now reading a book called "Refuse to Choose!" by Barbara Sher which is absolutely everything and more that "Women with Attention Deficit Disorder" is not. Sher doesn't call it ADD, she calls it being a "Scanner", liking everything, wanting to do everything, dreaming, having hyper focus some times and not having it other times, and suggests cost-effective ways of learning to work with yourself like using pieces of paper and crayons to make goals and write down things you've accomplished...... in short, Sher empowers you. Solden wishes she was empowering you, but no - I've reached the lowest low in my "disorder" from reading this book. I recommend only the introduction and maybe the first couple of chapters. After that, please put it away - don't subject yourself to the hopelessness that I've encountered.
Profile Image for Andi.
2 reviews1 follower
October 5, 2016
ADHD is criticized by many as an over applied diagnosis. I've heard someone say, "Oh everybody has that", and I've heard others say it's just an excuse for laziness or not trying hard enough. Frankly, I feel it is under diagnosed, especially in women.

In 1995, I inquired into the possibility that I might have it and was almost immediately dismissed. I was 18 and maybe didn't have the surest footing into my own identity, but I was pretty sure something was different about me from most everyone else I knew. But hey- I wasn't the expert in the situation. I left the clinician's office and spent the better part of the last 20 years thinking that maybe I was going crazy. As a young child I was put into a gifted and talented program because I was so "smart". But if this was the case, why did I feel so stupid, inept, in so many parts of my life?

Finally, a year ago, someone else saw in me what I did. I was asked if I had ever been evaluated for ADHD, and my response? I started to cry. I learned that although I do have a REALLY high IQ- which for the first time in my life feels very good to say- the gap between that and my executive functioning skills is huge. It was thought that copies of my old report cards might help in my diagnostic testing, but as it turned out, there was no gray area in the data to compare against my grades. One of the people I have been working with throughout all of this said that, despite all of my struggles, the fact that I have persisted through three attempts in college is remarkable.

I am eternally grateful to have had this book recommended to me. Like reading an autobiography I did not write but could have, it tied in so many things I have perceived in my being to be faulty parts. With this book, I feel validated. Like I wasn't just screwing around for my whole life. I wish everyone who knows me would read this.

Also, I highly, highly HIGHLY recommend this book to others I don't know. To anyone who knows a daydreamer, has trouble managing time, was repeatedly told "You just weren't looking" or was called selfish, scatterbrained, weird. To someone who read, "needs to apply herself" on report cards. To the person who struggles with finishing things. To the person who "just needs to try harder". To the person who maybe thought they had it all together until suddenly one day, for whatever reason- leaving the nest, marriage, parenthood, death of a loved one- they no longer did.

ADHD is not encapsulated in the image of a boy bouncing off the walls in the classroom. It can also be the other, more quiet child in the classroom. Both are struggling to get by, but one is easier to see.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
133 reviews
April 24, 2011
OK, so maybe I didn't read the ENTIRE book but I did read a solid 65% of it until I just couldn't stand it any more. It wasn't until Chapter 11 that I found some remotely useful few pages and then it was back to downhill from there. I imagine that many of Sari Solden's professors often wrote comments about how general her writing is/was. In 188 pages, all she told the reader was that ADD is very stressful for women, it's real, and that you need to deal with it -- over, and over, again. I will definitely be recycling this and finding something more substantial to educate me on ADD.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
98 reviews5 followers
February 9, 2021
I did rate this book a 4, but my brain has been obsessively mulling over a few points about this book that don't sit 100% with me.

This book described so many of my ADHD scenarios to a tee. Especially, considering the fact that I was only diagnosed last year at the age of 26! There were a few parts in the book where I had to put my Kindle down and go 'I am so glad, but also so sad that I am not the only person who has been through these sorts of experiences.' By not feeling so bad, I mean that I don't feel alone in this issue. By feeling sad, I mean that I feel terrible that these other girls and women have been through these same real-life scenarios that I have experienced.
Some of the advice was helpful, and has made me research into support groups I can sign up for, but a lot of Sari's advice comes down to: pay someone else to divide your difficulties and move up higher in your workplace so others can do the 'nitty gritty' parts of your job.
a) I can't afford a personal assistant or a coach for that matter.
b) I feel like in the last 10 years, the aspect of moving up in a company so fast is SUPER slim.
Yes, I do realise that this sort of advice varies from person to person. Not all advice or ideas are going to work for everyone. But I feel like these two points of advice are super outdated now!

Also a lot of the advice about using technology is super outdated too. I kept converting statements such as: 'add reminders into your PDA to: 'add reminders in your smartphone and take notes on an notetaking app like Evernote' (Yes, Evernote is a lifesaver for me!).

I still recommend adult women that suspect that they have undiagnosed ADHD to read this book. Especially the first few chapters. The insights and scenarios that are provided in this book are definitely worth reading, as they are relatable in a way that makes me want to laugh and cry (simultaneously). As mentioned, a lot of the advice was outdated for me, although there is still a lot of useful advice for someone who is considering that they have ADHD and are on the journey to a professional diagnosis.

To anyone who is reading this and is currently going through the diagnosis journey, or who suspects that they have ADHD and are only just starting their journey to diagnosis: You deserve everything, and I hope you get where you need to go in getting assistance! <3
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 13 books289 followers
August 27, 2017
Helpful information, even if not all of the suggestions are practical (wouldn't we all love to be able to afford daycare so we can get the housework done, bookkeepers for our businesses, and professional organizers and coaches to help us set up systems that work for us? Not gonna happen, though, and getting a promotion/higher-level job while requesting extra accommodations and assistants just because it might work better seems like something that's probably never happened for anyone who wasn't employed by a parent.) Great ideas, but not exactly practical for most of us.

But the information on the disorder and why women tend to go undiagnosed until adulthood is good, and there are helpful chapters on understanding things like why ADD might be misdiagnosed as another disorder and why we might accumulate psychological problems alongside our coping mechanisms as we struggle to keep our heads above water. As someone else said, it can be kind of depressing at times, and I wish there had been more focus on ideas that can help those of us who can't afford to hire a babysitter to watch the kids while we do the dishes. The writing style is often a bit more dense (and even confusing) than I'd have preferred, especially for this topic. But there is a lot of helpful information here that anyone can use, and I'm glad I picked this one up.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4 reviews
May 12, 2021
This is not the kind of book I would normally review publicly, but I am relying heavily on other people's reviews of similar books right now, so here it is. Recently diagnosed at 36, lots of lightbulb moments, equal amounts of grieving and excitement. The first half of this book was absolutely wonderful. Sparkling validation. Perfectly describes my life, eerily so. That gave me so much hope for the rest of the book (and my life). The rest of the book was disappointing. The advice is very out of touch and outdated, even though there was a fairly recent update. Lots of suggestions to ask your boss for an assistant an hour a day to do your filing, hire an organizer, hire a coach, hire a babysitter, hire a housekeeper. If phone calls are too hard, just fax them! Super out of touch. Also, tons of syntax errors. Tons. I would highly recommend some parts of this book, but definitely skip over anything that doesn't resonate.
Profile Image for Rachel.
353 reviews10 followers
February 4, 2021
This book is packed full of useful information in understanding how ADD presents itself in women. It’s well researched and referenced.

So what kept me from giving it 4 or even 5 stars? It needed more how on top of the why. This book is very long, with a lot of information, which made it very difficult for me, a person with ADHD, to process. With all the work I did to absorb the information, I learned a lot, but not a lot of how to change my circumstances. So much wants me to rely on others, but I feel that’s unrealistic for many. What do I do if I cannot get paid or free help? That’s what I need to know, that’s why I buy and read books like this.
Profile Image for Jonelle.
11 reviews
December 13, 2019
Sari took a microscope to my brain in this book.

My only gripe is the assumption that we all have money to hire outside help. No ma'am.
Profile Image for Lucy Johnston.
145 reviews10 followers
April 27, 2022
Yeah this is my new bible. Biggest flaw is that solutions presented would only work for rich women. But I am a rich woman lol, so it was very helpful
Profile Image for Umi.
236 reviews6 followers
February 11, 2021
How does this book know everything about me?! Totally insane to hear (listened to this as an audiobook, which offers the added bonus of leaving the listener free to play the Happy Mondays’ ‘Step On’ on a loop in their head as they devise a small dance they feel represents the experience of being both inattentive and hyperactive) experiences that were SO CLOSE to my own as well as get tips that might keep me from crying preemptively in 80% of work meetings. As other reviewers have pointed out, some of the tips aren’t that practical - like, duh, I’d love to hire a cleaner and an assistant and go back to school and start doing things I’m actually good at (usually not ending phrases with prepositions, let me liveeeee), but, like, how feasible is that really for anyone? Overall tho, completely indispensable. May even order a copy of this to keep as a reference, but slightly nervous it will upset the aesthetic of my bookshelf (priorities).
Profile Image for Ashley.
69 reviews7 followers
June 22, 2022
I enjoyed this book and it is super informative but it also made me feel MORE overwhelmed and out of control with my ADHD. Some of the solutions offered by the author are just not attainable to me and most people in the world. Such as hiring a house keeper, hiring a personal assistant, having family help you out, filing for disability at your job so they can make accommodations, getting medication. Sure. Yes. In a perfect world where money isn’t an issue. Sure. But not my reality.
Profile Image for Ginny.
3 reviews
October 30, 2014
Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life

Many women think they are the only one who struggles with the demands of work, motherhood and other issues that women face in today's society. Quite frequently women are unaware of having ADHD much less, how it contributes to these struggles. However, Ms. Solden has written an excellent book discussing this topic. She not only shares examples of what other women are facing, but also explains why the strictures of today's society has created an environment that influence these struggles with societal expectations, which often leaves them feeling alone and as if their lives are failures. She doesn't only create an awareness of the problem but also discusses various methods of assisting these women regain a sense of control in their day to day lives through various methods, such as behavioral modification, medication, and other types of therapy methods ADHD women find useful.

While reading about the personal stories of her clients with ADHD I found it quite interesting to read about women discussing some of my own personal quirks, ones I have always been told "Women don't live that way, (do that), etc. You are the only woman who does that," were actually common for adult women with ADHD.

I reccomend this book to all people regardless of whether or not you are male, female, have ADHD or not. For men and the non ADHD person reading this book they will gain an insightful look at the unique struggles women with ADHD face and perhaps an understanding that will be translated into the expectation of society at large. Ms. Solden has released at least one updated version, that I am aware of and there has probably been more, as more is learned about Adult ADHD, ADHD Women and also the release of new medications .
Profile Image for Rachel Smalter Hall.
355 reviews214 followers
March 8, 2016
I was expecting to react very emotionally to this book, and was surprised when that didn't happen. Other women have said that this book changed their lives or finally made them feel understood for the first time in their lives. While I didn't have that reaction, that didn't stop this from being the best book about women and ADHD that I have found.

Sari Solden really covers it all, from diagnosis to medication, treatment, the grief cycle, and redefining your core self-concept. It's breadth made it a bit harder for me to get through than the other books that I've read about ADHD, but that's exactly why I appreciate it so much. She takes concepts that I've only seen discussed in bits and pieces and puts them into a cohesive narrative with relatable stories and practical suggestions. And her tone is so warm and approachable.

Sari Solden has ADHD herself, and her flavor of ADHD, as she describes it, is that she's very disorganized and struggles greatly with paperwork. My difficulties are a little different, which meant I didn't relate to her personal anecdotes as much. She also touches only briefly on the way protective factors like IQ can change the presentation of a woman's ADHD. She has decades of clinical experience working with ADHD women, though, and it was through these anecdotes about her clients that I finally did catch reassuring glimpses of myself. There were lots of moments where I found myself nodding my head and thinking, "yes, this, exactly this."

This book covers so much about therapy and treatment that it could be a lot to handle for the casual reader, but I still think it's one of the better books out there to recommend to friends and family who want to learn more about what goes on in an ADHD woman's brain.
Profile Image for Molly.
190 reviews2 followers
June 3, 2012
I have torn had people jokingly say that I was " so add". I picked up this book at half price books and before the end of the evening had used all my post it page markers. Things that I had attributed to depression for years were mentioned specifically in this book.

It would not have been helpful for me to have picked this book up after a diagnosis, but I think the information gleaned from the pages will help my therapist and I develop a plan for the future.

I can't begin to describe how elated I was reading about myself in the pages. Nor how sad it made me to realize I am almost 44 years old and just now getting here.

I will say that I self medicated for years smoking cigarettes and drinking tons of caffeinated sodas and since I stopped both, my life has been increasingly harder to manage.

Profile Image for Sheena.
37 reviews
September 24, 2009
It's rare that I read "self-help" books to begin with. It's even more unusual when a book reads like my autobiography.

Sari Solden describes not only the "typical idea" about ADD, but differentiates between ADD and ADHD. She also expands on the concept, describing common traits that occur when a woman has only sort of dealt with having ADD. Solden explains that many women struggle due to familial expectations -- the expectation that women must keep their homes and lives (plus those of family members) organized.

I do not currently own this book, but I intend to add it to my library as soon as I can.
Profile Image for Bree.
255 reviews7 followers
June 9, 2018
So eye-opening. Although I don’t identify as a woman, I was raised as one and thus related to a lot of this book. It’s more aimed at women who have a spouse and a family than anyone else, but there was still so much useful info here for a single person like me. I feel much better about getting treatment for my own ADHD in a way that’s healthy and productive for me.

Highly recommended for literally everyone, especially those who see ADHD as a thing that happens to only hyperactive white boys (and, of course, women or AFAB people who think they may have ADHD and are seeking info).
167 reviews6 followers
December 22, 2008
A little wordy, but a must-read for women with ADD. A comprehensive book on the non-attentive type of ADD, it specifically deals with womens issues and experiences and combines real life composite histories and treatment experiences with the latest clinical resarch. Also provides new information on medication, diagnosis, treatment, therapy, counseling, and support groups, work and family relationships.
17 reviews
January 14, 2018
It's like the author is writing about ME. I've never felt so deeply understood as I do reading this book.
Profile Image for Taryn Woods.
12 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2021
I found the beginning quite helpful, as someone recently diagnosed. However, as the book went on, it began to feel a bit outdated in mindset and advice.
Profile Image for Meghan.
279 reviews4 followers
February 7, 2021
At 350 pages it is a lot of information. I think with a good editor it could have been cut in half. Good and encouraging information but for me it wasn’t presented well.
Profile Image for Nicole Roccas.
Author 3 books67 followers
January 3, 2023
ADD tends to be under recognized in women for many reasons, including but not limited to: the tendency for young girls to be socialized towards people pleasing; the varied, often competing social roles women must shift between as adults, which can both mask and intensify the challenges of ADD; gendered assumptions surrounding women's mental and neurolobiological health; and finally the gendered assumptions that surround ADD and its symptoms (namely that it is a condition that primarily affects males). In particular, this book helped me understand how ADD can be a struggle even among women who appear highly successful, driven, and even organized. More attention could have been given to the intersection of ADD and trauma/abuse, and more nuanced language should have been applied to discussions of parenting (not all women have children).
Profile Image for Max.
Author 5 books70 followers
November 2, 2019
the best!! The relationship/family parts don’t really acknowledge that lesbianism is a thing; she says “partner” but only really talks about straight relationships. Understandable since she’s drawing from her own life a lot but don’t be lulled by the p word ;) really helpful though esp if you haven’t read anything in depth about being a woman with add. Rereading it years later it was cool to see how much of the sad emotional stuff DOESN’T apply to me as much now that I have the framework she provided on understanding add
Profile Image for Soquel.
411 reviews9 followers
August 10, 2022
A very helpful guide for women and their families. This updated version offers hope as we can see how far the field has come since the original was written (when people didn't believe ADD was real or that adults could be diagnosed.) There is a lot of good advice but I personally found it discouraging how often the crutch of hiring outside help (or trading with others - because that's not anxiety-inducing) was offered. I get that she says to think of it as a necessity and not a luxury, but I like to eat on a daily basis and couldn't do both until recently.
March 2, 2021
I have been diagnosed with ADHD for 24 years and not until this book was I able to fully understand the full scope of my neurodivergence. I have lived for so long in shame. Not fully understanding ALL the aspects of my life being dominated by my disorder. This book is an absolute TREASURE to all women- diagnosed or questioning diagnosis.
Profile Image for Yuna.
153 reviews3 followers
December 1, 2022
On one hand I feel so understood and not alone anymore, but on the other hand my view on my life is shattered and I'm really confused
Profile Image for Kristina Zonk.
24 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2020
The best book I've read so far on the subject. Comprehensive, validating, challenging in places. May pick up a physical copy to have handy
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