18.11.07

Girls and Women with ADHD: The Silent and Ignored Disorder in Females

By: Delmarie Alvarez

Traditionally, when we learn or speak of research on ADD ADHD it is mostly focused on males. Males were believed to make up 80% of all individuals with ADD ADHD and according to the DSM IV, the ratio of boys with ADHD to girls was 4:1. Information and understanding of ADD ADHD in girls and women is very recent and as a result, girls and woman with ADHD are often overlooked and do not get diagnosed as readily as males. So why are females overlooked? To begin with, females with ADD ADHD exhibit a variety of issues that are different from those in males with ADD ADHD, and girls deal with very different challenges as well. Boys with ADD ADHD will tend to participate in more disruptive behaviors at school and home.

They are more defiant and aggressive. Girls, though they can be physically hyperactive, will engage in a quieter act of disorganization and inattention and are often timid and compliant. Because of the absence of disruptive behavior, the girl calls little attention to herself or her issues leading to a late, if at all, diagnosis. Research shows girls do not get diagnosed until they are women in their mid 30’s. This is due to the fact that they did not know there was a name to their inattention and often chaotic life until their own children were found to exhibit the same characteristics and were eventually diagnosed.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 966-975, shows girls with ADHD were 16 times more likely to have repeated a grade in school, and almost ten times more likely to have been placed in special education than those in the non-ADHD group. They also found girls were less likely to be diagnosed with a co-morbid disorder, such as conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, than boys.

Other research shows girls and woman with ADHD (more so if undiagnosed) are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and unplanned pregnancies. The above results stress the importance of treating ADD ADHD in females as successfully and comprehensively as it is treated in males.

ADD ADHD in females can manifest as a timid, introverted, withdrawn, daydreamer who was often disorganized, confused and overwhelmed. It can also come across as a hyperactive and overly talkative individual that is overly social, moody and impulsive. Whatever the symptoms, ADD ADHD is affected even greater when mixed with the hormonal rollercoaster of a young woman or adult with premenstrual syndrome. Emotional instability, irritability and mood swings are some of the challenges these girls and women will also have to endure.

The difficult societal issues most females have to deal with on a daily basis also become harder to comprehend and manage. For example, a married woman who is expected to be the caretaker and nurturer of her home may feel inadequate in fulfilling her role. She may not have a support network or someone she could talk to and has continued being the supporter of everyone else. Handling a full time job and the full time responsibilities at home add more pressure and stress to an already overwhelmed individual. The above issues exacerbate the problems ADD ADHD may already bring to their lives, impacting their self esteem and causing depression and anxiety.

The positive news is more attention and research has been given to girls and woman and ADD ADHD. The goal is to promote more awareness and implement effective treatment strategies before the young girl becomes a woman so that she will not have to overcome the hardships and struggles that could have been avoided if diagnosed early.

About The Author:

Delmarie Alvarez is a seasoned evaluator for some of the most respected evaluation centers in the New York area. She is the author of Passage to Freedom: The Key To Unlocking The Gifts Behind ADD/ADHD, and publishes a free bi-weekly eTips newsletter to help individuals with ADD ADHD take the first step toward achieving success in their life or that of a loved one with out the need for mind-altering medications. To subscribe to this free bi-weekly eTips newsletter or find out more about the Passage to Freedom eBook go to http://www.hope-for-adhd.com/

Contributing Author for www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

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