Methylphenidate Moms: The Surprising New Face of ADHD

What Is a Methylphenidate Mom?

We like to use the term "methylphenidate mom" because it rolls nicely off the tongue, but really, we mean women ages 24 to 36 being treated with medication for ADHD, many of whom may not be moms at all. Also, although methylphenidate (found in medications like Ritalin® and Concerta®) is probably the most well-known ADHD medication, a whole host of other medications is also used to treat the condition.
 
Ready for the numbers? One report showed that the use of ADHD medications in women ages 24 to 36 climbed a whopping 84.4 percent between 2008 and 2012, more than any other age range in females or males.
 
So why are more and more women in their 20s and 30s being treated for ADHD? For starters, more women in this age range are being diagnosed with it. But these are not "new" cases of ADHD -- at least not in the sense that these women did not suddenly develop it. Rather, they have had this condition all along, but they simply were never diagnosed.
 

Better Late Than Never

For so long, everyone thought of ADHD as a disease that only affected boys. Combine this with the fact that girls are more likely to have the inattentive type of ADHD, which is less noticeable and disruptive than the hyperactive form, and it's easy to see why we now have hoards of grown-up women just now finding out that they have ADHD. So, the idea that women in their 20s and 30s are the new face of ADHD isn't really so surprising after all.
 
Hopefully, as teachers, doctors, and parents become better able to spot ADHD in girls, fewer women will be blindsided by a midlife diagnosis. While such a diagnosis can be quite a shock, it is often a welcome relief. In our society, women are generally expected to be able to multitask with ease. They are expected to do it all, which can make a woman with ADHD feel like an inadequate failure. Finally having an explanation instead of the same old negative perceptions of yourself can feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
 
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