Women & Girls With ADHD
Is Female ADHD Under-Diagnosed?
First of all, ADHD is not gender biased. Symptoms can be seen in girls and boys, where most kids never outgrow it. Many women grow up assuming that ADHD is a diagnosis for hyper little boys or a “male disorder”. In other words, men and women are equally likely to have ADHD symptoms. Girls tend to develop ADHD later than boys and have more emotional turmoil as a result of their symptoms. These are some of the reasons why so many women go undiagnosed (misdiagnosed).
What Is ADHD Like In Girls?
Parents and children often miss the warning signs. The pressure to perform means that many girls internalize their symptoms and then end up with depression, anxiety, perfectionism, or a sleep or eating disorder. They typically have fewer friends, mostly daydream, have trouble following instructions, and make careless mistakes on homework and tests. During puberty some girls may experience an increase in PMS severity, promiscuity, a greater risk of cigarette smoking (as early as age 11), alcohol and/or drug abuse, and unhealthy relationships due to low self-esteem or self-loathing.
What Are The Symptoms That Sabotage Adult Women?
Inattentive (ADD) presentation and disorganization are more common. A person constantly ends up feeling overwhelmed and frantic about coping with day-to-day basic things. Do you impulse buy, wonder what to cook (again), forget the washing in the machine or cookies for school, struggle to prioritize, overcommit, feel embarrassed to invite people over because the house is a mess? Relationship difficulties may include: marital difficulties, sexual issues, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, or parenting issues. Each case needs to be diagnosed individually based on their situation and risk factors.
Examples Of Succesful Women With ADHD
“Of course you don’t have ADHD. You’re smart.” Even if you have a high IQ, work very hard, or have a lot of support, you can keep your symptoms in check for long enough to get to college, or not. Women everywhere are using their ADHD to do amazing things and become successful. They are caring, sensitive, never boring, see things differently, trying out new things, innovative, entrepreneurs, creative artists, athletes, trailblazers, comedians or astronauts. For example: Avril Lavigne, Agatha Christie, Karina Smirnoff, and the list goes on. We have a long way to go in addressing the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds this diagnosis. What is important to remember while we increase awareness, is that you can get support and strategies to move forward in a healthy and positive way.
Myth: Kids grow out of it.
Fact: Although previously considered only a childhood disorder, up to 80% of children with ADHD continue to show symptoms into adolescence. Symptoms may include difficulty following instructions, being easily distracted, having difficulty sustaining attention, difficulty staying on task, losing things or failing to control anger.
Understanding Girls with ADHD, Updated and Revised: How They Feel and Why They Do What They Do (Nadeau, Littman & Quinn, 2015)
The Myths and Facts, Janssen-Ortho Inc. Brochure, 2015. Toronto: Janssen-Ortho
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