ADHD Resource Hub

ADHD in Girls & Women

Diagnosis and identification with girls and women

​ ADHD Can Present Very Differently in Girls & Women

ADHD in girls and women is often also misdiagnosed, and emerging evidence supports having another look if you’ve been in treatment for other disorders for many years, but have not been getting better.

Did you know?

Most women with ADHD are diagnosed late, in adulthood, and research has demonstrated its due to a combination of interesting factors.

Why are girls and women overlooked?

Girls are often overlooked as children, internalizing symptoms like hyperactivity, and having more inattentive symptoms. Hormones at puberty might be blamed for more emotional swings than they should be, and girls start to become very adept at masking, which ‘hides’ their symptoms from detection. 

While some adapting to adversity certainly proves beneficial at times, without the underlying insights about why such vigilance to organization (for example) is necessary, adaptations run the risk of becoming maladaptive – like perfectionism. 

Women are also more likely to be misdiagnosed as what the presenting symptoms might suggest – with anxiety or depression, and never actually having a chance to have the most effective treatments for what has led to the anxiety and depression in the first place.  

The downsides are not the same

Brain-driven dopamine seeking behaviours in women manifest in similar ways in men – finding efficient ‘hits’ in food, sex, work, driving interpersonal conflict and a cycle of lower self-esteem, underemployment and not living up to her potential. 

However it’s not a benign situation. In addition to a higher risk of additive co-morbid conditions, like anxiety, depression, substance use or complex PTSD, ADHD also comes with a higher relative mortality rate (due in large part to risky and impulsive decisions, leading to more accidents), and women have double the mortality rate of men with ADHD.

Women with ADHD are 6X more likely than neurotypical mothers to experience postpartum anxiety, and 5X more likely to experience postpartum depression. ​

 

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Parents of a child with ADHD

Interested in assessment and diagnosis for yourself?

ADHD treatment is very effective.  

​In particular, for mothers, research also supports that mothers who are treated, have children who also do better with their ADHD management.

Medications reduce ADHD symptoms in parents.

A recent study demonstrated that parents taking medication experienced less negative talk and commands, and more praise. It also reduced negative and inappropriate behaviours in their children. Studies suggest that treating ADHD adults with medication will also improve some parenting skills. Parenting is a skill that must be learned. Because ADHD interferes with learning, parents with the disorder need time to learn these skills. Medication can eliminate some of the worst behaviours, but ADHD-trained therapists can also provide behavioural or behavioural therapies that can help ADHD parents learn parenting skills and achieve their full potential as parents.