ADHD in girls: why isn’t it noticed?

There are many myths around attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: the diagnosis is “Western”, not ours, and ADHD is just a cover for the child’s bad manners. There is also a trend to refer to all attacks of disobedience and self-will as symptoms of ADHD, with which it is “useless to fight.” Doctors successfully refute all these opinions. For example, in Russia, ADHD in primary school is diagnosed in almost every third person, although often in an erased form. But it is there, and it can be corrected.

But what even many specialists do not know about: there are much more children with such a diagnosis. This is because girls (and then girls and women) remain unexamined. The reason is that the disorder manifests itself differently in them than in males. We will tell you what is important to pay attention to if your girl is growing up.

Facts About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • ADHD develops during childhood and can affect anyone. But genes play a significant role, the disorder is often observed over several generations in a family.
  • It is believed that one in 10 children worldwide are diagnosed, and about a third of them are girls.
  • Some children outgrow ADHD completely. But in general, from 60 to 75% of adults will have to adapt to the manifestations of the syndrome and live with such features.  

Statistics issues

Boys are diagnosed with ADHD at least twice as often as girls. For some time it was even thought that ADHD was an exclusively “male” diagnosis associated with abnormalities in the Y chromosome. However, later girls with similar deviations began to be identified. And as information about the syndrome spreads, more and more women recognize themselves in the descriptions of its manifestations. And doctors confirm the “children’s” diagnosis in adults.

This indicates that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder does not just develop in both sexes. The statistics of the ratio of boys and girls changes almost daily. The fact is that the symptoms in many girls are different, and they are often more difficult to detect.

It’s the same with ASD, autism spectrum disorder . Until recently, we believed that there are 6 boys for every girl with autism, then there were 4 of them …

Today, experts say the ratio is almost “three to one”, there is one girl for every three boys with ASD. And, most likely, the proportion will change again once new data on how autism manifests itself in women becomes widespread.  

There aren’t many studies of ADHD in women. The disorder was mainly studied in men, boys, and boys. As a result, we know less about how the syndrome affects the female sex in childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age. In the meantime, the issues of combining ADHD and pregnancy or menopause also need to be studied in order to respond in time to a combination of hormonal changes in the body and manifestations of the disorder.

What is the difference between ADHD in girls: features of the disorder and symptoms

Doctors identify several types of ADHD, but there are three main types.

  • ADHD with a predominance of attention deficit – ADHD-PDV. There may even be an extreme variant, ADD without “G”, that is, there is attention deficit, but there is no hyperactivity.
  • ADHD, in which hyperactivity and impulsivity predominate: ADHD-H, ADHD-HI.
  • Mixed type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, manifested in conditionally equal / significant proportions.

And if the second and third types are more often attributed to neurological- behavioral disorders and lead the child to a doctor, then the first type looks to an inexperienced eye as inattention, daydreaming, forgetfulness, unwillingness to concentrate, or even laziness. And it is this type of ADHD that is most common in girls.

How does it manifest itself? The general symptoms are as follows.

  • Lack of concentration, trouble paying attention, child not hearing or not listening.
  • Children are easily distracted, not collected, not organized, often forget and lose something.
  • They are unable to follow to the end, to achieve their goals.
  • They make mistakes that seem careless, random (“Well, I knew, I just messed up”), but at the same time, such errors are persistent and difficult to eradicate.

Girls with ADHD are generally perceived as “dreamers”. Like boys, girls with ADHD often have problems at school, and in some cases with peers. But they are less likely to get into trouble for behaving this way. And the likelihood of attracting the attention of specialists is also low.

Learning problems can be more than just a symptom of ADHD. In case of persistent and long-term difficulties, the child must also be examined to exclude dyslexia, dyscalculia . 

It is also important to remember that ADHD and disorders of reading, writing, and billing processes can often be combined.

Why can’t such ADHD be ignored?

It is clear that a calm and dreamy child causes less anxiety than an active and destructive child. Especially if the “quiet girl” is inclined to fantasies. Even the constant loss of shift and forgotten notebooks rarely make you want to go to the doctor. Well, he studies worse, but he will become a mother, and then “life will force” to be more responsible and focused. This opinion is quite common, but in vain.

The problems aren’t even with grades. Girls with ADHD are more likely than boys with the same disorder to blame themselves when they have problems completing various tasks. Having the disorder can also make it difficult to understand social cues, which can make girls feel insecure, make it difficult for them to make friends, find loved ones, and put them at increased risk of violence.

ADHD in girls is also associated with a tendency to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, with anorexia or bulimia being more common.

For adult women, the syndrome is a hindrance in work and family life, it interferes with coping with stressful situations, managing personal finances, as well as running a house and caring for children.

Diagnosis is the first step towards correct treatment. Medication, and especially behavioral therapy, can help cope with ADHD, at the very least, smooth its manifestations and make life easier for the child.

ADHD in Adulthood: How Do Female Hormones Affect?

The symptoms of the disorder can change over time. Already as a teenager perfected brain structures work enough self-control skills, invented SDVG- life hacking on the organization of time and space. 

But hormones can also cause the disorder to change. And in girls and then women, this influence is more pronounced. Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause affect how well you manage your personality. And if there is medication support, then a change in hormonal levels can affect its effectiveness. This should be monitored and analyzed independently, and consult a specialist.

Having ADHD can be a problem, but it is a disorder that children and adults can learn to cope with. Although we still do not know how to treat ADHD, with early correction, both girls and boys can reach their potential and enjoy a happy, fulfilling life.

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