Underdiagnosis of ADHD in Women

Underdiagnosis of ADHD in Women

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder characterized by hyperactive and implusive behaviors, or so is how it is commonly understood. A lesser known fact is that ADHD presents differently females; it is characterized by inattentiveness and symptoms become evident around puberty, rather than around age 8, like in males. Because inattentiveness can be harder to distinguish as a symptom rather than just a person's personality, it can often go undiagnosed and untreated. In fact, in the 1990s, it was reported that ADHD was nine times more common in boys than females, and with more awareness and research the projection has decreased to 2.5 times more common.

A research study found:

"Girls need to have more severe, and more visible, symptoms than boys before their ADHD will be recognised."
"Parents seemed to play down girls' hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, while playing up those of boys."

Untreated ADHD in women can be incredibly harmful as it significantly increases their risk  of comorbid anxiety and mood disorders and suicidal ideation. Many times, women are treated for these comorbidities rather than the root cause. There is a large gender bias regarding ADHD as Women are severely underrepresented in ADHD research and literature. More research needs to be conducted to better understand how to diagnose and treat them. In addition, this information needs to reach parents and teachers who are often the first ones to notice sympotms of ADHD.

Caralyst is working to create a mindset shift regarding gender biases and disparities; healthcare and medical research is largely modeled on White men, and the field must become more representative of all of its patients.