Women With Adult ADHD: A Long-Overlooked Group
For decades, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD
) was thought of as a problem common mostly to little boys. Slowly, we learned that this condition doesn't always go away in adolescence and adulthood, and quite often children with ADHD grow to be teens with ADHD
, then adults with ADHD.
We also learned more about ADHD in girls and found out that it was more common in girls than originally thought. Combine those two factors, and you've got arguably the most overlooked group of people with ADHD -- adult women.
A Missed Diagnosis Turns Into a Midlife Diagnosis
Girls have a higher tendency to have the predominately inattentive type ADHD, with less of the stereotypical hyperactivity and impulsivity, compared to boys. Combine this with the fact that children with predominately inattentive type ADHD tend to be diagnosed later, along with the traditional perception of ADHD as a boys' condition, and it's easy to see why girls with ADHD are typically diagnosed later compared to their male counterparts. Sometimes, the diagnosis is missed entirely, especially with the girls who do well enough, academically to avoid notice.
Often, it isn't until a woman has children of her own and one of her children is diagnosed with ADHD that it becomes obvious to her or her healthcare provider that she may have the condition too. These mothers recognize their children's symptoms in themselves, especially as they become more educated about ADHD.
Hopefully, as teachers, doctors, and parents become better able to spot ADHD in girls, fewer women will be blindsided by a midlife diagnosis. But for now, midlife ADHD diagnoses are still quite common for women.