A study, reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suggested the major symptoms of ADHD appear similar in both genders, but girls with the disorder are less likely to have accompanying disruptive behaviors. That may be one reason for their lower rate of diagnosis
It’s a common myth that ADHD is mainly a condition that occurs in boys and men. Not true. It’s often more noticed in males because they are more likely to have the hyperactive impulsive version of ADD that’s more easily noticed than the inattentive version of ADD that women usually (though not always) have.
“There are three to five boys picked up with ADHD for every girl,” said Robert Resnick. He is professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., and former president of the American Psychological Association.
“Girls present differently,” he said. “They are less aggressive, more likely to be chatty, more depressed, more internalized than boys who are externalizing, pushing, shoving, running.”Girls with ADHD, he noted, tend to engage in early sexual behavior and face a higher than normal risk of pregnancy.
Donna Palumbo, director of the Strong Neurology ADHD Program says that
“Girls are more cognitive in symptoms. They may never be restless, hyperactive, or impulsive,” she said. “Boys tend to get more diagnosed than girls because they’re disruptive in class, their behaviors get them in trouble, while the girls are quietly zoning out (and) not bothering anyone. They are less diagnosed and at older ages than boys.”
Some studies estimate as many as half to three-fourths of all girls with the disorder go undiagnosed. Other researchers speculate that may be one reason more girls, and women, are diagnosed with depression than are men.
Girls with ADHD also had high rates of other psychiatric disorders, such as behavioral, mood and anxiety problems as well as an increased risk for drug and alcohol abuse. The rates of mood disorders were similar in both genders, but girls had less of a tendency than boys to be affected by disruptive conditions, such as oppositional defiant disorder, the authors reported.
It’s too bad, but it seems that a main determining factor of whether a person gets diagnosed with ADD or not is whether they’re causing problems for others. How much the person is suffering themselves seems secondary. I think women with ADD get shortchanged by this attitude.
I know first hand 20+ women that were treated with therapy for depression for more than 10 years and they even suggested to their therapists that they might have ADHD and those suggestions were quickly dismissed. Turns out they did have ADHD and after getting treated for ADHD, their depression went away. That being said you can have both depression and ADD together, and ADHD is not always the cause for depression.
I wonder how many women out there with depression or anxiety have untreated ADHD?
If you’re a women with ADHD, how did you first discover that you had it?