Why Is ADHD In Girls Hard To See?


As any woman with ADHD can attest to, she may have been overlooked as a child because she wasn’t acting up. She was the shy, quiet type and, although smart, she’d still manage to make unnecessary mistakes. Left undiagnosed, her “careless” mistakes followed her into adulthood and challenged her in very different scenarios.

Typically, a very challenging experience forces the issue to come to a head, she receives her diagnosis and treatment, and she wonders how life could have been different if she had only known.

Clinical psychologist Michelle Frank speaks of a “lost generation of women who for decades have been overlooked in this diagnosis. 

“The diagnosis is a blessing and a curse: it’s a great relief, but they wonder what could have been different if they had only known,” Frank told Quartz in January.

What To Look For

So how do we save today’s girls from suffering the same fate? According to Psych Central, parents and teachers can look out for excessive daydreaming and poor grades when your daughter is capable of more. She may forget or fail to finish assignments, especially those with multiple parts. There’s also the “Chatty Cathy” syndrome, where she may talk too much or be excessively bossy.

In addition, girls with ADHD tend to be loners and may tend to space out. They may have a messy bedroom or have more emotional outbursts than other children their age. They also tend to grapple with anxiety issues.

Resist The Stigma

Finally, it’s important to resist the temptation of thinking because ADHD may be overdiagnosed in children, you should discredit the possibility that your child may have the disorder. Instead, if you think your daughter is exhibiting symptoms, take your daughter to a professional and get a thorough examination – including testing – before throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

“Girls with ADHD are significantly more likely to experience major depression, anxiety, and eating disorders than girls without,” Jenny Anderson writes in the aforementioned Quartz piece.  

Adds clinical psychologist and author Dr. Ellen Littman:

“As a result of their low self-esteem, they often choose unhealthy relationships in which they may accept punitive criticism and or abuse.” 

ADHD is a very real thing for the people who actually have it and can cause them undue strife in school, relationships, career, and health. It’s worth it to give pause if you think your daughter may be a sufferer.

Image: Unsplash/Alexander Shustov


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