Most people who hear ADHD think of the ‘fidgety guy’ in class who can’t sit still in his chair. Who is loud, disturbs other children and has trouble concentrating. But this picture is more than outdated. The journalist Angelina Boerger only received her own diagnosis at the age of 29: ADHD in adulthood. In the 468th episode of the morning podcast “important today”, she reports on this moment and a feeling of liberation: “I felt like I could make peace with myself. And all those moments when I doubted myself and myself I blamed them, they have a neurological cause.” Because of ADHD, their brain works differently.

The abbreviation ADHD stands for an attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which is often characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity. The expression is individual and can occur not only in boys, but in all genders. Also, contrary to the cliché, ADHD is not a “childhood disease”, but a neurological disorder that can also occur in adulthood and change throughout life. It is estimated that around 2.5 million adults in Germany are affected. Especially in undiagnosed and untreated cases, ADHD can also result in sequelae or side effects, says Angelina Boerger: “For example, depression, anxiety disorders or addictions, which often overlay the undiscovered ADHD disease.”

The journalist found out about ADHD in adulthood by accident. An affected person reported on a television program in which Boerger was in the audience: “Suddenly an image came together for me.”

ADHD falls within the gender health gap. Men are still the norm in medicine. Most of the studies are conducted on men, and most drugs are tested. As a result, diseases or neurological disorders such as ADHD are less likely to be diagnosed in women. Side effects of medication are also noticed later or those affected are taken less seriously by the treating physicians or psychotherapists. Angelina Boerger also criticizes this.

On her Instagram account “Kirmes im Kopf” she explains about ADHD in adulthood and regularly receives messages from female sufferers: “They are told that women cannot get ADHD. Or they are too successful, too popular or attractive and wouldn’t fit into the image of a person with ADHD. Then they have waited months for their appointment and are soon sent home because they are supposed to be too successful.” Females are no less likely to have ADHD than males. But it often takes a different form. Angelina Boerger also addresses this in her book about ADHD, which is also called “fair in the head”. “In girls, as with many things, the symptoms tend to show up inside. Rather dreamy, drifted, slightly confused or chaotic,” she says in the podcast “important today”.

Dealing with this neurological disorder is just as individual as the associated level of suffering or the treatment options. Psychotherapy helps some of those affected, others need medication, occupational therapy or very practical support in everyday life. But it is particularly important to Angelina Boerger that ADHD is freed from its social stigma: “ADHD is not just something bad, it depends on how we assess it as a society. Who actually says what is ‘normal’?” ADHD makes your brain work differently. But that also offers space for other perspectives, a lot of creativity and enthusiasm: “Diversity doesn’t stop with the things that we can see with the naked eye. Brains can also be diverse. That’s an enrichment for the world.”

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