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does my daughter have ADHD

Gender Differences in ADHD: How Women Suffer More

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ADHD Symptoms Present Differently for Women Than Men

Whether it is because of upbringing, socialization, or biological makeup, what’s considered “normal behavior” is different for boys and girls. The varying likelihood of diagnosing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a perfect example of these differences. 

While it is equally as common for ADHD to affect as many girls as it does boys, presentation often differs. This suggests that mental health treatment is required to treat ADHD more precisely, by gender contrast. 

Symptoms of ADHD Can Begin During Childhood

Most often the symptoms of ADHD in children begin to arise early in development or even as young adults. However, the observation of a child with ADHD is often attributed to the age of attendance of day school programs. For a great majority of children, this is the initial introduction to learning, away from the home. 

It is at this point that the symptoms of ADHD of children observed can be categorized into three sub-types. These include impulsive/hyperactive ADHD, inattentive/distractible ADHD, or the most common type of ADHD diagnosis, a combination of both. 

Biological Sex, Gender, and Life Experience Can Influence an ADHD Diagnosis

Although all gender identities can experience ADHD or other mood and personality disorders, studies lack sufficient, conclusive, numeric data. This makes it difficult to quantify the amount of diagnosis and treatment of these communities, whether non-binary, intersex, transgender, etc. 

However, definitive data is available to confirm that females are often underdiagnosed based on presumed ADHD symptoms. Yet even still, the criteria, being based primarily on male diagnosis, continues to be deficient. Often, this leads to this gender suffering from this condition for an extended time.  

The Data on ADHD Implies Inequality of Understanding Women

Psychologists and physicians report a staggering difference between men and women diagnosed properly with ADHD. Reinforcing that life experience most definitely plays a part. Essentially, of the United States population, 13.6 million individuals have been diagnosed and seek treatment for ADHD. Incredibly, 6.1 million of them are children, and back in 2011, that number was even higher.  

Of those Americans, only 6.7% are (or identify as) female between the ages of 6 and 17. Compared to 14.8% of males 6-17 years old, there is a clear discrepancy. In many communities, the ratio is as unsettled as 4:1. 

The most important thing to take into consideration is that the diagnosis of ADHD is one of gender neutrality. Symptoms of ADHD in children, whether males or females, may present differently, but still the diagnosis is the same. This makes it even more important to have different types of treatments based on the person’s needs. Whether holistic treatment will be most valuable should be up to the individual’s requirements, as opposed to their biological sex. 

Significant Ways ADHD Affects Women Differently Than Men

The insufficient information available to help women understand and treat their mental health leaves much lacking proper care. Many wonder whether they are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, but have a little comparison to be sure. Or, when a parent is doing their best to help their children, many wonders; “Does my daughter have ADHD?”

Fortunately, because of the increased need to provide answers to women’s mental health, several behavioral differences have been observed. For those questioning whether their daughter has ADHD, and could benefit from professional care, consider these signs for help identifying. Though symptoms of ADHD in children and adult women can be difficult to identify, these observations can guide the way. 

Hyperactive is Mostly a Symptom of ADHD in Child Boys

Most commonly, it is assumed that symptoms of ADHD in children will be forward and easy to spot. Although psychological illness, personality disorders, and mood disorders are often diagnosed early, there are gender differences to be aware of. 

Symptoms of ADHD in children who are female, might not have anything in common with how boys display symptoms. So while girls may suffer from the same type of ADHD, the outward portrayal is typically vastly different. 

This is because ADHD is commonly associated with males with:

  • Impulsive outbursts
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Overactivity
  • Aggression
  • Failure to remain settled and still

Though it is not definitive, studies show that boys are most often subject to these hyperactive and impulsive tendencies. Therefore, this leaves gaps when categorizing symptoms of ADHD in children of the female gender. When questioning does my daughter have ADHD, be aware that girls behave differently than boys with an attention disorder. 

Most Girls Become Introverted with ADHD

Girls, on the other hand, often appear to have more difficulty paying attention or becoming more easily distracted. Yet, not necessarily physically overactive, at least outwardly. Because of this distractibility, a girl’s symptoms of ADHD in childhood may be confused as disinterest, or mistaken for depression. The visible and observable attributes of a girl’s ADHD often leads to internalizing or withdrawing thoughts inside. 

This withdrawn type of ADHD is often accompanied by displays of:

  • Difficulty remaining focused
  • Thoughtless or forgetfulness
  • Daydreaming or disconnection from their surroundings
  • Disorganization or general scattered messiness
  • Observed as exceedingly silent

Making a diagnosis based on these factors proves to be difficult and misunderstood. Likely chalked up to typical development and curiosity, it takes time before a mental health case is suspected. Still, depression is the most common go-to, when symptoms of ADHD in children are noticed in this fashion. However, there is one specific difference reported that could lead to questioning, does my daughter have ADHD

Anxiety as a Symptom of ADHD in Girls to Consider 

In 2013, girls with symptoms of this ADHD communicated higher occurrences of feeling anxious, alluding to this telltale sign. Often when confusion and misunderstanding are happening within, anxiety is triggered due to uncertainty and frustration. It’s important to consider that symptom of ADHD in children could be very similar to those with an anxiety disorder. Getting a proper diagnosis means getting proper treatment. 

If your daughter displays symptoms of distractibility, appears withdrawn, disinterested, or seems inappropriately nervous, ADHD could be to blame. To best get her, or any child, on the right track to mental health wellness, do not ignore anxiety symptoms. Instead, if you wonder “does your daughter have ADHD?” a professional diagnosis should be a priority. 

Fewer Women Are Properly Screened for an ADHD Diagnosis

The different symptom variations of ADHD in children of different genders can lead to fewer young girl’s being diagnosed. All things considered as a society, what is considered acceptable behavior for little girls, vs boys, is viewed differently. To put it simply, adults treat them differently. This also contributes to girls developing codependency, yet is sometimes viewed as traditional behavior. 

Unfortunately, what is considered diagnosing criteria to categorize the symptoms of each ADHD type, is primarily designed around the male presentation. This leaves a wide and confusing margin as to what is observable when a female seeks a diagnosis. Not only do female biology and hormonal function play a part, but so do the expectations of acceptable conduct. However, the most important factor still hinders the controversy of life experience and tolerance of said conduct. Realistically, a boy and girl could be suspected to have ADHD, and the diagnosis is interpreted based on different symptoms.

Because symptoms of ADHD in children are so hard to identify, girls often suffer for longer periods of their lives. Opposed to boys who are more likely to physically express their symptoms young, girls tend to internalize, confusing. Developmentally, girls are expected to “grow out of it” as they mature. However, because of unfair analysis, the majority of women are left to suffer into adulthood. The average age of diagnosing ADHD in women is reported to be around the ages of 35-37. While boys, between the ages of 5-11 years old. 

ADHD Symptoms Often Confused for Hormonal Changes

At around the age of puberty in women, the hormonal fluctuations, ADHD can lead to higher levels of emotional imbalance. However, along with irritability, variations of both estrogen and progesterone also affect concentration and sleep. While this could contribute to a heightening of symptoms of ADHD in child-bearing aged women, it can also affect diagnosis. 

Being contributed to premenstrual symptoms for girls and women of youthful age, ADHD is more likely to come secondary. Priority is most often placed on the regulation of hormones, instead of the treatment of an underlying mood disorder. 

Once again, if you find yourself wondering, could you, or does your daughter, have ADHD, seek professional evaluation. Mental health specialists are familiar with the heightening of ADHD symptoms during puberty. This can attribute this to proper mental health care, relieving an ongoing burden of untreated ADHD. 

Girls Cope With Stress, ADHD, and Trauma Differently

Girls and boys tend to manage heightened discomfort very differently. In the case of showing symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents, boys are likely more outward behaviorally. Girls are more often subject to holding in their stressors, or even their experiences with trauma. This suggests that when the inability to focus mentally becomes a problem, girls cope internally, or at least, less obviously. 

It may seem more pertinent to address the needs of boys who display irregularities in thoughts and actions. However, because girls turn inward instead of expressing their duress, their ADHD could trigger additional mental illnesses and psychological harm. When more than one mental illness is being suffered by a person at the same time, it is treated as a dual diagnosis. 

Dual Diagnosis and Increased Suffering for Women with ADHD

A dual diagnosis is more probable for young women, when coping with symptoms of ADHD in childhood, goes undetected. Often to cope, while not being able to understand their affliction with ADHD, girls are more likely to suffer from a dual diagnosis of:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • ADHD

Any combination can make it very difficult for a young woman to function properly with good health. It will be important to get professional mental health care and begin the healing process. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often very effective in the treatment of ADHD dual diagnosis. Breaking up old and unsafe thought patterns, and replacing them with effective and healthy ones, is the goal of CBT. Therapy is an important part of achieving health while managing the symptoms of ADHD in children and adult women. 

Women Are More Likely to Feel Overwhelmed With ADHD 

Adult and mature aged women, or even senior women, may feel heightened stress and lower self-esteem with ADHD. It is generally concluded that the roles played by each gender may have a significant effect on this. Not only are women held to a higher level of etiquette and personal management than men, but undiagnosed ADHD also adds to the difficulty. Creating a sense of being out of control, further enforces the need to regain it, and adds to psychological stress. The longer ADHD is allowed to go untreated, the more unlikely women are to get help.

Eating Disorder Dual Diagnosis with ADHD in Women

To establish control over oneself, where ADHD makes this more difficult, many women substitute dangerous habits to cope. Eating disorders are often observed at higher rates in adults with untreated ADHD, than as a symptom of ADHD in children. 

Combined with feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and stress, more women than men will utilize unhealthy eating behaviors. Eating disorders and ADHD often occur for 3 reasons. 

  1. Food is soothing when stress is high.
  2. Having control of undernourishment, over nourishment, calorie intake (or deficiency), or abnormally consumed items, is still “control.”
  3. Binge eating is more likely to occur when less attention is being paid to the action. 

Women who suffer from anorexia, where they deny themselves appropriate nourishment, feel more in control using starvation as a crutch. Or even bulimia is a common occurrence with ADHD in adult women. Bulimia involves the action of binging and purging both eating for comfort or becoming distracted. Then, purging to make up for it.

If you are concerned that your daughter may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to intervene. However,  you may also want to ask yourself, does my daughter have ADHD as well? 

ADHD in Women Makes Socializing More Difficult

Symptoms of ADHD in children left untreated can have a significant social effect as girls grow into women. Often feeling insecure around others or inappropriately stressing about how others perceive them, could lead to isolating tendencies.

Difficulty following along in conversations or overcompensating by being “overly talkative” can have harmful effects on the development of friendships. The inability to properly abide by rules can be an indicator of ADHD, by not comprehending what is being enforced. 

Group therapy is extremely effective in the treatment of those with ADHD having a difficult time navigating healthy socialization. During group therapy, symptoms of ADHD in children and adults can be addressed among peers. By learning how to communicate effectively in a group setting, this alleviates unnecessary pressure and intimidation. All while promoting a confident and healthy sense of self, during treatment. 

Excessive Spending Habits Could Suggest ADHD and 

Another way women may suffer more intensely with ADHD is by mismanaging priorities and overspending. It’s commonly called “retail therapy” for a reason. 

So, “Does my daughter have ADHD because she likes to shop?” Not necessarily. 

However, if it is being used as a crutch to cope, distract, or compensate, then it may be something to consider. 

Unfortunately, because of the age group that has financial freedom, time may have passed before a financial problem arises. So while overcompensation and insecurity may be symptoms of ADHD in children, excessive spending is mostly an adult ADHD indicator. 

Gender Differences in ADHD: How Women Suffer More

However, aside from ADHD, excessive spending could also be an indicator of other mental illnesses. These include Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or even Schizophrenia, which can co-occur.

In any situation where a person’s mental health affects financial and societal hardships, proper treatment should be sought. Including overlooked symptoms of ADHD in childhood, mental health care using inpatient resources can help. 

Inpatient Treatment for Symptoms of ADHD in Children and Adult Women

The most important decision to make for yourself or your loved ones is to get the proper care that you need. When ADHD or mental illness leads to difficulty in daily function, there is a safe place for treatment. This is especially true when more laid back means of treatment lead to increased attention fatigue and hinder effective care. Inpatient treatment can relieve the unnecessary distractions that disrupt mental health proactivity. 

Attention or cognitive fatigue is when there is a sensory overload that can interfere with activities and treatment. As reported by those with symptoms of ADHD in children and adults alike, medications for the management of ADHD don’t always suffice. More often, the best and most effective treatment is a combination of dynamic medications and therapeutic intervention. At an Inpatient treatment center for mental health and wellness, you can harness control and confidence, in a comfortable facility. 

Outpatient Treatment for Adult Mental Wellness for ADHD Suffering Women

Although inpatient care provides around the clock focus on treatment for those with symptoms of ADHD, there are alternatives. Many cannot take time away from obligations, especially when a diagnosis is made later in life. If the circumstances are applicable, outpatient care may benefit many women best. This allows for the same intensive therapeutic reinforcements, without the obligation of remaining on-site. It can assist with the development and practice of time management, as well as allow time for family care. 

Getting Answers, Getting Treatment: Does My Daughter Have ADHD?

Getting an ADHD diagnosis for your child when frustrating signs first appear will make a fundamental difference in their lives. Because women tend to suffer untreated for longer, this illness can be devastating. Until further testing is developed that specifically targets symptoms of ADHD in child girls, get tests, and stay educated. Reach out to a Behavioral Health Facility to set up a one one one evaluation for your little girl. Not only will she thank you one day, but she can also have the power to manage her ADHD effectively. 

Behavioral specialists are available to assist and encourage you to make contact if you observe symptoms of ADHD in children. If you think you have been suffering for too long with undiagnosed ADHD, make your appointment now. It’s never too late to work on the most important aspect of health, mental health.