ADHD in Women and Girls: The Importance of Early Diagnosis

Women and girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) are not only less frequently diagnosed than their male counterparts. ADD/ADHD girls and women often require gender-specific treatments to help manage symptoms, succeed at school and work, and have successful relationships.

PREV Slide 5 of 6 NEXT




ADHD in Women: Different Gender, Different Treatment

ADD/ADHD not only presents different symptoms in boys and girls, but it often requires a different treatment strategy, says Nadeau. Both genders benefit from stimulant medications, she says, but girls may need treatment for anxiety. They frequently cannot tolerate stimulants without extra pharmaceutical support.

Hinshaw says he’s not convinced that girls need extra meds to tolerate stimulants, compared to boys. He notes that, to the extent that girls are likely to develop depression and anxiety, evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapies may be helpful. Nadeau also recommends group therapy, as a gender-specific strategy, to encourage girls and women to use their verbal skills to give one another support, develop coping strategies, and not feel isolated.

Nadeau and her colleague, pediatrician Patricia Quinn, M.D., have been trying to persuade their peers to adopt a diagnostic tool with symptoms that would help more girls understand that they might have ADD/ADHD. Nadeau says she’s not optimistic that such change will come in time for the next edition of the DSM-V, in 2013.

Hinshaw’s study, as well as other research that follows girls into adulthood, offers hope for more interventions over time, but, for now, parents and teachers have to work to help girls who are struggling with distraction — spotting them at home and in classrooms, and supporting them in getting diagnoses, even if they may not precisely fit the symptom profile.

Women with ADD/ADHD should spread the word. While a little adversity makes you stronger, imagine what women with ADD/ADHD could accomplish if we could turn the energy we use to beat ourselves up to going out and changing the world.

Download your free digital copy of The ADDitude Guide to Alternative ADHD Treatment for a primer on everything from fish oil to neurofeedback. Plus, get more treatment news delivered straight to your inbox.

We never share e-mail addresses.

PREV Slide 5 of 6 NEXT

slide   1   2   3   4   5   6   next »

 

What do you think of this article? Share your comments on www.ADDConnect.com, ADDitude's community site. Check out the new ADHD Medication User Reviews and the ADHD Adults Support Group. Your fellow ADDers want to hear from you!

 
Copyright © 1998 - 2013 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 39 W. 37th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10018