ADHD impacts both genders equally, but outdated stereotypes leave too many women undiagnosed and feeling hopelessly ditzy, dumb, or depressed. ADHD often looks different in girls or women. Unfortunately, many clinicians may still not recognize and accurately diagnose their ADHD. This can be a tremendous barrier to effective treatment.
From job opportunities to personal income to marital relationships, there’s hardly an area in which American women haven’t made great strides in recent decades. But when it comes to getting diagnosed with and treated for ADHD, women still have a long way to go.
ADHD in Women
Women are as likely as men to have ADHD, and the latest research suggests that ADHD in women causes even greater emotional turmoil. Despite widespread improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, some professionals still may harbor the belief that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is something that primarily affects boys and men — not girls and women. Consequently, women with ADHD are more likely than men to go undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed), and less likely to receive appropriate treatment.
ADHD in Girls Vs. Boys
The underdiagnosis of ADHD in women has its roots in childhood. Girls with ADHD tend to try harder than their male counterparts to compensate for and cover up symptoms. To keep up their grades, girls are often more willing to put in extra hours of studying and to ask their parents for help.
In addition, girls are more likely to be “people pleasers,” doing all they can to fit in — even when they know they are “different.”
Teachers are often the first to identify the signs of ADHD in children. Yet because some teachers still think of ADHD as a male disorder, they tend to suspect the disorder in boys but not girls. This is true whether girls exhibit the hyperactive (can’t sit still), the inattentive (daydreaming in a corner), or the combined version of the disorder.
Who Should Make an ADHD Diagnosis?
ADHD needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, pediatrician, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse practitioner, neurologist, or social worker. Finding a doctor to make the correct ADHD diagnosis can be tough for women.
Some women come to suspect what’s at the root of their problems after seeing a report of ADHD in the media. Other women begin to suspect they have ADHD after a child of theirs has been diagnosed with the disorder.
A common diagnosis of a woman before she receives her ADHD diagnosis is depression. Many women have been in therapy for years and been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but still have problems.
Many women go undiagnosed because the criteria doctors use to diagnose ADHD are outdated or gender-neutral. For example, the criteria indicate that ADHD is to be considered as a potential diagnosis only if the patient has experienced significant symptoms from an early age. Yet, as doctors are starting to realize, many girls with ADHD “fly under the radar” during their early years with the disorder.
The Future of ADHD and Women
The medical community is waking up to the fact that ADHD is a big problem for girls and that the condition often persists into adulthood, says Nadeau. For now, she says, any woman who suspects she has ADHD should educate herself about the condition — and consult a mental health professional who specializes in the field.
If a woman is feeling depressed, it makes sense for a doctor to diagnose her with depression and treat her for it. But if she has reason to believe that there is more to her problem (or if procrastination, time management problems, and forgetfulness persist, despite treatment for depression), it may also make sense to question the diagnosis — and to persist in questioning until she gets relief for her symptoms.
Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback treatments. Neurofeedback may be helpful for treating ADHD symptoms, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. The easy, noninvasive treatments can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life.
Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth today and find out how we can help you.
Original article posted by ADDitude Mag.