A Scots baker whose ADHD was misdiagnosed as depression and anxiety for more than a decade has opened up in a bid to raise awareness.
Sarah Garvin, 28, felt liberated’ when she was finally told she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in May this year after doctors told her she was depressed at 15.
Women’s ADHD is often overlooked for a hormonal problem and often is not diagnosed until later in life.
The condition affects people’s behaviour, leaving some restless, having trouble concentrating and acting on impulse.
Medics believed Sarah’s difficulty with ‘regulating her emotions’ was a hormone issue and prescribed her medication to tackle depression at age 15.
But the business owner, from Hamilton, believes doctors may failed to have diagnose her because she is a woman.
ADHD charity, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) claim the condition ‘is often overlooked’ in girls.
Sarah has decided to share her story in a bid to help other women receive a proper diagnosis.
She told the Daily Record: “Since being diagnosed I felt instant relief and I’m not yet medicated.
“I struggle with decision making and find it really difficult to regulate my emotions which can be misconstrued as being anxious.
“If I’m told something is happening and it doesn’t happen it can feel like the end of the world and I can’t rationalise the scenario in my head.
“This can cause anxiety but it’s the root of the problem, my ADHD, that needs to be treated and identified and not the anxiety itself.
“Women can be brushed off and told we have PMS or hormonal changes that can cover up ADHD or autism.
“I think this is exactly what’s happened to me.
“I don’t think enough women consider ADHD because we are told so often things can be hormonal.
“It feels really good to know the reason behind my feelings and to be able to relate to people online and see them feeling/doing the things I do.
“It’s also been really liberating to be able to explain myself with a valid reason if I’m having a bad day or doing things that don’t make much sense.”
Sarah started to consider she may have ADHD after watching other people share their experiences on social media.
The 28-year-old said her mental health had hit a crisis point and she was searching for answers.
She got in touch with her GP and suggested she may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder before being referred to a psychiatrist.
Sarah then scored high for ADHD and is now on a waiting list for a referral to receive medication to help regulate her condition.
She explained: “I came across ADHD Twitter accounts and Tiktok accounts and I could relate so much to the content.
“It was actually scarily simple how my GP just referred me without question given the fact I’d been in and out of there asking for help for years.
“I then received the relevant paperwork and had to go through my whole life and behaviours as a child and adult with my mum to get a probability score for ADHD.
“Then I had a zoom appointment with a psychiatrist to go over my score which scored highly for ADHD.
“Women present different from men especially in childhood.
“I was disruptive and hyper and chatty but not to the extent teachers would have seen it as a behavioural problem that needed intervention.
“I was always an extrovert and confident so they wouldn’t have questioned it. “
CHADD Charity said: “ADHD in young girls is often overlooked, the reasons for which remain unclear, and many females are not diagnosed until they are adults.
“Frequently, a woman comes to recognise her own ADHD after one of her children has received a diagnosis. As she learns more about ADHD, she begins to see many similar patterns in herself.
“While research of ADHD in women continues to lag behind that in adult males, many clinicians are finding significant concerns and co-existing conditions in women with ADHD.
“Compulsive overeating, alcohol abuse and chronic sleep deprivation may be present in women with ADHD.
“Women with ADHD often experience dysphoria, an unpleasant mood, major depression and anxiety disorders, with rates of depressive and anxiety disorders similar to those in men with ADHD.
“However, women with ADHD appear to experience more psychological distress and have lower self-image than men with ADHD.”
Paula MacLeod, NHS Lanarkshire’s general manager for mental health and learning disability services, said: “We aim to provide the highest standard of care to all our patients and we regret any instance where someone feels we have not met this standard.
“Each patient is assessed by a clinician and treatment options given based on the outcome of that clinical assessment.
“We cannot comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality.
“We have a formal complaints process and we would always encourage anyone to contact us in this way if they wish to raise any concerns to allow them to be fully investigated.”