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.

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It's Different for Women William Duke

At the age of 21, I proudly realized my dream of reporting for a big daily newspaper. I was getting lots of front-page stories, until I started making stupid mistakes. Most were minor -- misspelled names and the like -- but then came a doozy: I involuntarily misquoted a prosecutor, making it seem that he’d charged someone with a murder when he hadn’t.

Fearful, with good reason, that I was sabotaging my career, I sought professional help. Given the era -- the early 1980s -- that meant that I lay on a psychiatrist’s couch for several months and complained about my childhood. Meanwhile, I took the more pragmatic step of training myself to read every word I wrote for publication at least three times before I filed it.

One or both of these strategies worked, and my career moved forward, unblemished by blunders. But in 2007, I returned to my old psychiatrist, needing help once again. I’d moved from foreign reporting to raising two kids in the suburbs, writing books and magazine stories in whatever time I had. But I was having far too many arguments with my husband and kids, and I could never find my keys -- or sunglasses, or pens, or lots of other things.

How the world had changed! This time, instead of the couch and the complaints, there was just one appointment. After spending several hours at the doctor’s office, he concluded that there was a good chance I had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). He prescribed a stimulant to treat it.

Looking at my life through my new ADD/ADHD lens cleared up decades of mysteries about my behaviors. At last I knew why my parents used to call me Chatty Kathy, and why I’ve lost so much great jewelry over the years, not to mention other essentials. It also gave me membership into a surprisingly large community of formerly baffled, midlife women who’ve made similar breakthroughs.

Next: ADD/ADHD Diagnosis Rates in Women and Girls
How Undiagnosed ADD/ADHD Puts Girls at Risk
Is ADD/ADHD in Women and Girls Hereditary?
Different Genders, Different Treatments
ADD/ADHD Symptoms Checklist for Girls

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