As a 62-year-old man living with ADHD, I find myself experiencing heightened emotions and reacting quickly, sometimes over seemingly insignificant matters. I’m guilty of immaturity and irresponsibility. Throughout the years, I have carried a sense of embarrassment and shame due to the lack of progress in my career.
It has come to my attention that these characteristics, among others, tend to be more pronounced in many men with ADHD compared to their female and neurotypical counterparts.
While much has been written, and rightly so, about the distinct challenges faced by women with ADHD, there seems to be less focus on how men experience the condition differently. Although its commonly known that hyperactive boys are more frequently diagnosed compared to girls with inattention, it is crucial for those around us to comprehend the unique experiences of men living with ADHD.
Let’s explore some examples of how ADHD manifests differently in men.
ADHD Symptoms Common In Men
- Delayed emotional development: Research has indicated that men exhibit slower emotional maturity compared to females. This trend appears to be particularly prevalent among men with ADHD.
- Quickness to anger: While girls tend to internalize their emotions, boys are more inclined to externalize theirs. It follows, then, that boys with ADHD are more prone to oppositional defiant disorder, displaying argumentative, uncooperative, and sometimes hostile behavior. In adulthood, men with ADHD (more about ADHD test here) often experience emotional outbursts fueled by anger in response to real or perceived offenses.
- Resistance to seeking a diagnosis: Throughout my years of ADHD coaching, I have encountered numerous instances where women struggle with their husband’s or young adult sons’ reluctance to pursue or accept an ADHD diagnosis.
The reluctance is primarily due to the fear of the associated “stigma” and the perception of “weakness” in their male minds. Not surprisingly, most of my female social media followers are the ones who actively seek to understand ADHD on behalf of their husbands, children, and themselves.
- Impeded career advancement: Men face particular challenges in this area, partly due to societal expectations that still demand men to be the primary earners and providers. When a man with ADHD is unable to perform optimally in their job or struggles to retain employment (as was the case for me for many years), the resulting shame and guilt can be overwhelming.
Consider how frequently social interactions begin with inquiries about one’s profession and values. Feelings of shame and embarrassment arise when you are not proud of your occupation or your performance within it.
Managing ADHD Symptoms For Men
Men living with ADHD require a safe space to share their struggles, such as a support group comprising individuals facing similar challenges. Feeling heard and learning new coping mechanisms can be extremely comforting.
Practicing mindfulness and engaging in regular exercises can aid in mood stabilization and help regulate emotions. Additionally, I recommend working with your partner and potentially a therapist to develop effective communication strategies to prevent outbursts before they occur (all about ADHD treatment here).
By understanding the common symptoms of ADHD in men and actively working on managing them, I have personally found increased effectiveness and fulfillment in my life as an adult with ADHD.