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  • Writer's picturedrhilya

Combating Social Anxiety: Understanding the Intersection with ADHD

Social anxiety affects many of us but can be particularly difficult for women with ADHD. As a neuro-divergent woman, your unique profile and needs are much more likely to have gone undiagnosed until much later in life. If you are at a point where you have some answers and the clarity of a diagnosis, you are likely diving into how your unique brain is impacted by the demands of day to day life. Women with ADHD have unique challenges when it comes to social anxiety.

 

Executive Functioning Challenges

ADHD affects executive functioning skills which include things such as organizing, planning, and time management. Within social situations, this means that it is likely harder for you to initiate or maintain a conversation. Managing multiple social cues at the same time may feel overwhelming. Finally, doing all this while remembers the unwritten rules of social etiquette can be draining.


Impulsivity and Social Consequences

Impulsivity is a common symptom of ADHD and can mean that you act or speak without considering the impact of the words or actions. You may realize a moment too late when something will have a negative social consequence and may be left with feelings of embarrassment or regret. This in turn just increases your social anxiety and attempts at avoiding putting yourself in this type of a situation in the future.

Overstimulation in Women with ADHD and Social Anxiety

Sensory Sensitivities in Social Environments

The sensory sensitivities associated with ADHD mean that situations that are crowded or noisy can be extra hard to manage. There is a lot to attend to and even more things to filter out, all while trying to figure out how best to engage with others.



Hyperfocus: Strengths and Challenges

One hallmark of ADHD which can be a strength when it comes to pursuing passions and interests is Hyperfocus. Individuals with ADHD can get deeply immersed in things of interest to them exhibit great creativity or productivity as a result. However, this can also result in difficulty shifting your attention away from those unwanted anxious thoughts.


Emotional Dysregulation

Difficulty regulating the intensity of your emotions is another common sign of ADHD. This means you are more likely to experience intense feelings of anxiety, frustration, or shame, all of which worsen social anxiety.


ADHD women feeling rejected

Heightened Sensitivity to Rejection and Criticism

Many individuals with ADHD also experience heightened sensitivity to social rejection or perceived criticism. You can learn more about Social Rejection Sensitivity and how it can impact you here!


Struggles with Social Skills and Self-Perception

Individuals with ADHD tend to struggle more with social skills in general. This is because successfully navigating social situations requires consistent attention to nonverbal cues and intended but unspoken messages. If you have not had a great deal of success in managing social situations because of these difficulties, you are also more likely to have a negative self-perception when it comes to your social skills.

 

Self awareness for adhd and social anxiety

If you identify with some of these challenges, you likely want to know if there is hope for reducing your social anxiety. It is important for you to know that starting from this place of self-awareness is a big step in and of itself. Recognize that your neuro-divergence makes these situations just inherently more challenging. Hopefully you will then give yourself some grace when it comes to a social faux pas or a desire to escape when in the midst of a social interaction.


If you're a woman grappling with social anxiety and ADHD, therapy can offer targeted support. Specialized services can equip you with strategies to navigate social challenges and boost confidence. Take the first step toward a more fulfilling social life by seeking tailored therapy today.




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