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Undiagnosed ADHD Can Put Strain on a Marriage
Aside from the two-for-one parent-child diagnosis, Dr. Tuckman says marriage counseling often leads to an ADHD diagnosis. The non-ADHD spouse usually seeks help because she feels like she’s shouldering the brunt of the responsibility of running the household. Or she might simply be fed up with feeling as if her spouse never listens when she talks and is constantly cutting her off mid-sentence--common ADHD traits.
“So you wind up with an imbalance and the [non-ADHD] partner becomes increasingly frustrated, and probably then increasingly critical,” says Dr. Tuckman. “And a partner with ADHD, especially if it’s undiagnosed and untreated, feels increasingly bad about dropping the ball, but also increasingly angry about always being on the receiving end of this criticism.”
Women react to their ADHD symptoms differently than men, says Dr. Quinn. Men are more likely to lash out and blame outside factors for their failings: “The bus was late,” rather than “I missed the bus.” But women internalize and are more likely to blame themselves, which leads to anxiety and depression.
“I always say that a woman with ADHD is the true ‘Desperate Housewife',” says Dr. Quinn. “They are overwhelmed by day-to-day activities that everybody else seems to be able to do: Getting the laundry done, getting all the kids out in the morning. They have to stay up very late at night to get things done. They may be very messy. They won’t let anyone in their house. And if you don’t invite anyone over, then no one knows the struggle you’re having.”
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