ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a most common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. Some studies show that ADHD is more prevalent in males than females. But emerging research suggests that it is underdiagnosed in females and that they tend to be diagnosed later in males.
The prevalence of ADHD may be closer to equal between males and females than previously recognized. The increasing awareness about how symptoms of ADHD present differently in girls and women vs. boys and men results in more ADHD diagnoses in girls, although discrepancies still exist.
Keep reading to know more about how ADHD presents in women and girls.
How does ADHD differ in males vs. females?
Women and girls tend to show more inattentive symptoms than impulsivity and hyperactivity. They are also more likely to present with internalizing symptoms than externalizing symptoms. As these symptoms are less disruptive and do not fit the stereotype, they of often missed in girls.
Girls are often able to develop coping strategies that can mask their symptoms of ADHD, mainly when they are younger. When they show noticeable signs, they are often diagnosed with other conditions, including depression and anxiety.
Some research has shown that teachers are less likely to refer to girls for ADHD, resulting in delayed treatment and diagnosis. When assessed, women and girls tend to meet fewer diagnostic criteria.
The delay in treatment and diagnosis often hinders basic skills acquired in elementary school and can improve academics in girls and women.
What are the common symptoms of ADHD in women and girls?
Although ADHD starts in childhood and often continues into adulthood, it can present differently in girls than in women.
Symptoms of ADHD in girls
Although, girls with ADHD tend to present with inattentive type. Symptoms of inattentiveness may include:
- easily distracted
- dislikes tasks that require sustained mental efforts
- not following through on instructions
- appears not to be listening when spoken to
- trouble staying focused
- not paying attention to details.
Girls who have ADHD may show up hyper activeness, especially internal hyperactivity that may include:
- Fear of rejection by friends or peers
- works harder than their peers
- engages in self-harming activities
- makes friends quickly but rouble keeping them
- acts impulsively
- talks excessively and has difficulty playing quietly
Many women and girls with ADHD symptoms try very hard to suppress behaviors that may encounter norms such as fear of judgment, disorganization, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.
ADHD in adult women
For adult women whose symptoms of ADHD were not present in childhood, symptoms of inattention can become more noticeable in structured educational settings. Coping strategies may compensate for symptoms in younger grades be harder to maintain in these environments.
On the other hand, girls with ADHD and women with ADHD tend to show more internalized and inattentive symptoms that may include:
- difficulty regulating emotions
- procrastinating last minute
- trouble making decisions
- trouble making realistic plans
- easily distracted
- frequently misplacing common things
- difficulty in organization
- trouble following instructions
Impulsive and hyperactive symptoms are less common than inattentive ones, both for adults and women in general. These symptoms often become more internal; when they persist. These symptoms may include:
- having trouble waiting for turns
- answering questions before they are finished being asked
- talking excessively
- restlessness or difficulty sitting still for a long time
Some adult females with ADHD symptoms, such as difficulty returning to a task and distractibility, became more pronounced once they became mothers.
How can genders influence ADHD symptoms?
Symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person. Generally based on genders and sex are not always helpful in ensuring each person gets the right cure.
Hormones and ADHD
In both genders, changes in hormone levels can influence symptoms of ADHD. Regardless of their genders assigned at birth, people may experience a shift in signs around puberty when sex hormones affect behavior and physical symptoms.
Changes in hormones can affect symptoms in other ways:
- changes in estrogen levels across your cycle can increase symptoms of ADHD, especially for females with ADHD who may experience more impulsivity.
- A small survey in 2017 found that inattention can increase after the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle.
- Experts in the 2020 survey agreed that the level of hormones in menopause and pregnancy could also increase the symptoms.
Symptoms of ADHD often present differently in women and girls than in boys and men. Girls are more likely to experience symptoms of inattention than hyperactivity. They are also more likely to exhibit internalizing behavior than externalizing.
Women and girls are often diagnosed late or misdiagnosed, resulting in delays in treatment. Treatment of ADHD may include therapies and medications, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
So if you identify as a woman that experiences symptoms of ADHD, consult your medical professional and mental health expert. Getting a diagnosis and starting treatment can significantly improve daily life functioning.
Do people outgrow ADHD?
While symptoms of ADHD were considered a childhood disorder, now it is believed that it continues into adulthood for as many as 75 percent of children with the disorder. Up to this point, some scientists hypnotized that when this was diagnosed in adulthood, it was simply missed in childhood.
Now, however, scientists wonder if there may be an adult-onset form of ADHD, wholly separate from childhood attention deficit.
How many people can have ADHD?
According to a survey by CDC, about 11 percent of children aged 4 to 17 years in the USA were diagnosed with ADHD by 2011. The national study says that about 4 percent of US adults have a diagnosis of ADHD symptoms. It is approximately 14.4 million Americans in total.
Can an individual have ADHD without being hyperactive?
Contrary to popular myth, people can have ADHD and not be hyperactive. This type of ADHD is diagnosed as ADHD, primarily inattentive. Although not always known as ADHD or ADD, this inattentive or hyperactive group of behaviors has been recognized in the medical community since 1902 by such endearing names.
How does a person with ADHD think?
An individual with symptoms of ADHD would experience the world quite differently from others and have different thoughts on many topics. As they know, they are different. They think people around them constantly try to correct and change them. This further increases the stress level caused due to disorder.
To treat ADHD, many different options are available which of them can work best depends on the child and family. To find the best options, parents are advised to work closely with other people.