ADHD Often Misdiagnosed in Girls

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects girls just as much as it affects boys. However, many girls with ADHD do not get the treatment they need as their condition is misdiagnosed. This can lead to long term issues for girls, including problems in school and personal relationships.

Diagnostic Bias

Despite the fact that ADHD is equally present in girls as it is in boys, it is still thought of as a male disorder. Consequently, girls with the condition are less likely than boys to receive appropriate treatment. As a result, ADHD has a disparate impact on women. Women with the condition are frequently misdiagnosed with emotionally based psychiatric issues such as mood disorders and anxiety.

The problem begins in childhood when girls attempt to compensate and hide their ADHD symptoms. Generally, girls are more willing to try harder in school and to ask for help when needed. Girls are also generally more likely to be “people pleasers” and look for ways to behave appropriately and fit in even though inside they feel very different from their peers. Yet many girls with ADHD exhibit the hyperactivity and inattentiveness that are symptomatic of the condition and are still overlooked because ADHD is thought of as a male disorder.

Seeking a Diagnosis

The most common diagnosis women and girls with ADHD receive is depression. ADHD symptoms can make girls more emotionally dysregulated, and this can add to the perception that a girl has a mood disorder. Even when they receive therapy and treatment for a mood disorder, they likely still experience ADHD symptoms. Families can go through months and years of frustration before a proper diagnosis is achieved. This is because many doctors use an outdated method of evaluating ADHD. The criteria fail to take into account the fact that many girls with the disorder fly under the radar and don’t necessarily exhibit the same symptoms as boys. This can lead to increased frustration and a lack of proper treatment. Left untreated ADHD can cause significant issues as girls get older.

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